National Pro Fastpitch will work with Softball Canada and Softball Australia to integrate umpires into 2019 regular season action, the league announced last week.
The integration will see officials from both countries call live action during the 2019 season.
“Working with these international umpires will provide a valuable experience for everyone involved, including our regular roster of umpires as well as our players,” commented NPF Supervisor of Officials, Mike Raynor. “We intend to incorporate ancillary training with the live action umpiring that will take place during league play. We are really looking forward to this integration.”
The 2019 season is the 16th for the premier women’s fastpitch softball league that is the most ethnically diverse, complete team sports league, in the world. Australia enters its second full season in the league and will be operating as the Aussie Peppers based in North Mankato, MN. Canada will make its debut as a complete team in 2019 playing as the Canadian Wild, and will be based out of Marion, IL.
“The initiative to integrate our Umpires into the NPF season is going to prove invaluable to Softball Australia’s continued work in this area,” said Chet Gray, Chief Operating Officer at Softball Australia. “The lessons we’ll learn from umpiring at this elite level will be greatly received by not only our Australian representative in the NPF, but also to everyone back in Australia once they return and pass on the knowledge gained.”
“Softball Canada appreciates NPF’s cooperation in providing our Canadian umpires with the opportunity to work NPF games this year,” stated Hugh Mitchener, CEO of Softball Canada. “We are certain that it will be a great experience for our umpires and a terrific chance to work collaboratively with the regular NPF crews.”
NPF has long been known as the most competitive space in the sport of fastpitch softball and thus, a professional challenge and accomplishment for top umpires. The league touts former Olympians from multiple countries, the highest decorated players from NCAA ranks including former National Champions, Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Players and All Tournament Team members, NCAA/USA Softball Players of the Year, Honda Award winners, and more. The densely talented rosters yield the fastest paced day in and day out competition in the world.
“We know the league provides a consistent challenge to umpires in terms of matching the talent and level of play with the talent and level of officiating,” continued Raynor. “No other place in the world can allow umpires to perform at such a high level on a daily basis as the NPF, and we are proud to be able to broaden our roster of umpires with some of the best umpires from outside the United States.”
The league opened last week with Opening Day action taking place between the host, Beijing Shougang Eagles and Canadian Wild from Jackie Robinson Park in Daytona Beach, FL. Each team will play a 46 game regular season schedule.
Regular season league action will include 138 total games, and a best of five Championship Series. The regular season started May 28th and concludes August 11th. The NPF Championship Series will be held August 15-19 at the Ballpark at Rosemont in Rosemont, IL.
Every game will be live streamed on various platforms throughout the season, including FloSoftball domestically and NPFTV, CBC Sports (Canada) and the Olympic Channel.