The women’s professional softball league, previously known as the national pro fastpitch, is the only professional softball league held in the United States. The League was founded in 1997, and it closed in 2001. However, the national pro fastpitch revived the women’s softball league and started organizing it in 2004.
It features a total of six teams, namely Washington Glory, Philadelphia Force, Chicago Bandits, Akron Racers, Rockford thunder, and the New England Riptide, with the possible appearance of Michigan Ice in 2008.
History of the Women’s professional softball league or the National Pro Fastpitch:
The national pro fastpitch league tracks down its beginning as the first pro softball league for women. Former LPGA tour members Joan Joyce, Janie Blaylock, Jim Jorgensen, Billie Jean King, and Dennis Murphy initiated the women’s professional softball league and its association in 1976. The then League featured ten women’s teams from the city: Meriden, Connecticut, Illinois, Prescott, Chicago, Arizona, California, and San Jose.
In the first season of the professional softball league for women, every team played a one hundred and twenty game schedule with sixty doubleheaders. The association for women’s softball league lasted for four long years until it faced serious fund crashes, inadequate facilities for the players, and higher traveling expenditures for the teams. These were the primary reasons for the downfall of the then-established women’s professional softball league.
Teams that featured in the traditional women’s professional softball league:
There were a total of fourteen teams featured in the League over four years. The names of the teams are listed below:
- Phoenix Bird or Arizona in 1976.
- Buffalo Breskins from 1976 to 1979.
- Chicago Ravens in 1976.
- Michigan Travellers in 1976.
- Connecticut falcons from 1976 to 1979.
- Pennsylvania Liberties in 1976.
- Santa Anna Lionettes from 1976 to 1977.
- San Diego Sandpipers in 1976.
- San Jose sunbirds from 1976 to 1978 changed to Rainbows in 1979.
- Bakersfield Aggies in 1977.
- Southern California Gems in 1976.
- Saint Louis Hummers from 1977 to 1979.
- New York Adventurers in 1979.
- Edmonton Snowbirds in 1979.
This is the list of the women’s professional softball league teams that played the softball games in the initial stages of the association’s establishment.
Championships of the national pro fastpitch
Here is a list of the champions and runners-up of the League from 1976 to 1979.
- 1976- Champions were Connecticut Falcons with San Jose Sunbirds as the runners-up.
- 1976- Champions were Connecticut Falcons with Santa Anna Lionettes as the runners-up.
- 1976- Champions were Connecticut Falcons with Saint Louis Hummers as the runners-up.
- 1976- Champions were Connecticut Falcons with Saint Louis Hummers as the runners-up.
In 1982, the Association for National Collegiate Athletics started organizing the women’s professional softball league, which gave more exposure to the softball game and increased women’s participation in the League.
Internationally, the women’s national team of the United States of America won two gold medals at the ISF World Championship in 1986 and the Pan American Games in 1987, respectively. The college softball games also benefitted from the change of rules in 1987. It also improved the offensive output of the game, thereby increasing the popularity of the women’s professional softball league.
Formation of the Women’s Professional Softball League.
The former player from the Utah State University named Jane Cowles, and his coach John Horan developed a plan for introducing the women’s professional League for fastpitch softball. In February 1989, Jame Cowles made a blueprint for the League and showed it to his parents, John Cowles and Sage. They were the actual owners of the Cowles media company who assured of providing financial backup for the plan.
After research and planning for eight long years, with the support of the Cowles media corporation, the women’s pro fastpitch (WPF) came into the act. Market studies and field research continued till 1993. In January 1994, the barnstorming tour was announced. After a long wait of eighteen months, two teams, including the former all-stars of the college, played exhibition games throughout the Midwest cities.
After completing two league seasons of the women’s pro fastpitch league, the officials changed its name to the women’s professional softball league in 1998. n’s League began with six teams- Tampa Bay Firestix, Orlando Wahoos, Georgia Pride, Durham Dragons, Carolina Diamonds, and Virginia Roadsters. After condo, Wahoos, renamed the Racers, is the only team that survives in this women’s softball league.
The Ohio Pride, Akron Racers, Florida Wahoos, and Tampa Bay Firestix participated in the regular seasons of the women’s professional softball league. The professional company had four teams from the Eastern United States in 2000. The most talented fastpitch players from the world, including collegiate All-Americans, all-conference selections, and famous Olympians, selected the fifteen-player squad for these four teams.
The tournament of 2001 displayed the expansion of the softball league, and it traveled to 11 cities across the country, which attracted more candidates. The competition also featured games between the All starts team and the WPSL Gold team in Canada, along with a local All-Stars match. The most considerable boost came when nine of these league games were telecasted on ESPN. However, numerous cities are also being developed for being the owner of women’s softball teams.
As a part of long-term developments, the national pro fastpitch displayed an All-Stars Tour in 2003. The tour provided every team owner to pave the groundwork for the official launch of the league play in 2004.
Teams of 2008 and their home grounds.
We will see every team’s home stadium and home city in the 2008 women’s professional softball league.
The Akron Racers team is based in Akron, Ohio, and its home stadium is the Firestone stadium.
The Chicago Bandits team is based in Elgin, Illinois ( Chicago region ). Its home stadium is the Judson University stadium.
New England Riptide.
The New England Riptide team is based in Lowell, Massachusetts, and its home stadium is the Martin Softball Field stadium.
The Philadelphia Force team is based in Allentown, Pennsylvania ( Philadelphia Area ). Its home stadium is the ECTB stadium at the Bicentennial Park.
The Rockford Thunder team is based in Rockford, Illinois, and its home stadium is the Sportscore One stadium.
The Washington Glory team is based in Chantilly, Virginia ( Washington Region ). Its home stadium is the Westfield Sports Complex stadium.
In some years, the Michigan Ice women’s team can be a future contender for the women’s professional softball league.
The present situation of the League.
In 2004, all the working and planning worked for the coaches, fans, league officials, and athletes with the relaunch of the tournament in the markets of Tucson- Arizona, Stockton- California, Akron- Ohio, Montclair- New Jersey, and Lowell- Massachusetts. The 2004 softball women league season featured one hundred and seventy-eight league-wide games, with ninety-six best female players in the softball game.
In December 2004, the owners of the National Pro Fastpitch declared a plan to take the media rights from the Cowles family to a functional group that would also include the team owners. The efforts of forming a new broadcasters group were to solidify the telecasting locally and nationally. The broadcasting group continues to hire new candidates to strengthen team ownership in every market.
The 2005 women’s professional softball league season included 144 games with 23 opponents. It involved the significant teams of women’s ASA, the six national pro fastpitch teams, and international teams like Venezuela, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Australia, and China. The season lasted till the last week of August when Akron Racers defeated Chicago Bandits with a scoreline of 5-4 in the extra innings and won the National pro Fastpitch title.
In today’s world, the women’s professional softball league is viewed in more than a million homes in the Long Island region. The juggernaut joined forces with Telecare to telecast six games in 2005. Apart from the Juggernauts, ESPN and Comcast SportsNet also broadcasted some matches of the League.
In 2006, two more teams were introduced to the League: the Connecticut Brakettes and the Philadelphia Force. New England Riptide won the 2006 season of the women’s softball tournament.
During the 2007 season of the women’s professional softball league, The Texas thunder moved to Rockford and was renamed Rockford Thunder. However, during this season, the Connecticut Brakettes left the League to regain their amateur status. But, it paved the way for introducing a new team named Washington Glory. Each of the six teams played forty-four games during the 2007 season.
This was all about the women’s professional softball league and its history. It includes a long history and is a commonly played league in the United States. With broadcasting rights coming into play in the early 2000s, the tourney was more influenced and gained immense popularity in parts of the United States. Nowadays, the women’s tournament of the softball game is played every year.