National Pro Fastpitch announced that the 2016 Championship Series will be held at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa Alabama and will take place August 19-23. Rhoads is the home field of the National Champion University of Alabama softball team and holds the prestigious honor of leading the nation in NCAA regular season attendance for the past 9 consecutive years.
The previous award of the Championship Series was for a three-year stint, 2014-2016, and placed the league’s hallmark event at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. However, due to scheduling conflicts in the multi-purpose venue that required lead-time for converting the playing surface to a football field, the facility became unavailable for the desired dates of the 2016 NPF Championship.
“We were fortunate in 2015 to experience a record attendance for our Championship Series in only our second year in Alabama,” commented NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “Re-locating the venue just a short distance away in Tuscaloosa will allow us to capitalize on regional consistency with the Series. It also can not be understated, the beautiful facility that is Rhoads Stadium and the overwhelming support of local and regional fans for the sport of fastpitch softball.”
“The NPF Championship Series is a great opportunity for Tuscaloosa to host athletes and visitors from all over the world,” commented Jay Kasten, Director of Sports for Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports. “The event will be an exciting time for the City and is expected to have a large economic impact on our community. We are proud to support such a great event and look forward to packing Rhoads Stadium.”
The NPF Championship has been held in four different locations since the league taking over complete operations of the Series in 2010. The 2010 and 2011 Series’ were held in Sulphur, LA; 2012 and 2013 Series’ in Rosemont, IL; and the most recent 2014 and 2015 Series’ were held in Hoover, AL. The 2015 Hoover Series saw both single day attendance and overall attendance records broken.
“It is a consistent focus of the league to continue to build our Championship Series as an event, both in-venue and on television. Much of that challenge lies in finding great hosts for the event and venues that will build on, and compliment the extraordinary play you will see take place on the field. Tuscaloosa has exhibited a clear willingness to meet that challenge head on,” said Kempf. “College softball venues are on the fast track and the University of Alabama leads the way in all categories. I anticipate a special year for our Championship in 2016.”
Of the field of six affiliate NPF teams, only four qualify for the Championship Series. The top four finishers in regular season competition standings will make their way to Tuscaloosa in August. Last year’s champion, Chicago Bandits, captured the title for the third time in their twelve year history.
Former Alabama softball stars, Kelly Kretschman and Kelley Montalvo are currently under contract for the USSSA Pride and Akron Racers respectively, and both have participated in every Championship Series since beginning their NPF careers. Kretschman, the league’s oldest player at 35 years old, took home the league’s coveted Mizuno Player of the Year Award in 2015.
Ancillary events and a complete and detailed Championship Series Week schedule will be finalized and announced in January. Tickets will go on sale following the schedule being finalized.
The league is currently holding their annual Winter Meetings, through Friday, in Atlanta, Georgia, in conjunction with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Convention.
About National Pro Fastpitch:National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.