NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 18, 2019) National Pro Fastpitch concluded the league’s annual Winter Meetings Thursday afternoon in Nashville. The two day meeting is a once a year gathering to discuss league business and plan for the upcoming season.
The event convened key individuals from each of the six affiliate teams for the NPF along with league office officials, to address league related issues, policies and procedures, rule changes and adjustments, and the season schedule.
“The meetings were very productive in tweaking policies, scheduling, further planning, and especially, a general gathering of team owners and administrators,” commented league Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “It was a pleasure and privilege to share the room with such a positive group of people that are committed to making a difference in the game of softball from the professional level to its youngest participants.”
Notable policy adjustments include language making it easier for teams to maintain National Team players on their rosters while those players compete for Team USA and other international team programs. In addition to that, the group voted to increase the number of rooms provided by the visiting team.
In the area of game rules, the only addition/change that will be new to the league in 2019 is the implementation of a Run Ahead Rule, that rule being 8 runs after 5 innings. In game day operations, the league will experiment for the first time in 2019 with an in-venue public address capability for the home plate umpire.
Other topics that were discussed in the meetings were the new initiatives of the Developmental Partnership Program (DPP) and On-Player Ad Location (OPAL) program that were announced in late fall of 2018. Focus on additional and expanded activations for the league’s loyal sponsor/partner group of suppliers and supporters was featured on the agenda, as well as cooperation with, and assembling teaching and training programs for, the league’s new relationship with Diamond Umpire Academy.
The 2019 schedule totals 138 regular season games, 46 for each affiliate team. May 28 will be Opening Day of the NPF and will feature a Beijing Shougang Eagles vs Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois matchup, a home series for Beijing. On June 6, the 2018 regular season and Championship Series Champions, USSSA Pride, will open at Rent One Park in Marion, IL against the Canadian Wild. Also on June 6, the Chicago Bandits will open against the Cleveland Comets in a Cleveland home series match up. The Aussie Peppers will make their 2019 debut when they open against the Beijing Shougang Eagles at their home venue of Caswell Park in North Mankato, MN on June 9. The regular season will conclude on August 11 in Chicago with a classic matchup of USSSA Pride and Chicago Bandits.
Specific locations, venues and dates are expected to be announced by the league soon, for the 2019 College Draft and Championship Series.