ESPN+ is continuing to add to its offerings by reaching an agreement with National Pro Fastpitch to carry regular season games throughout the summer and the league’s Cowles Cup Championship Series.
Details of the Deal:
- The exclusive regular season slate begins Thursday, May 31, and will continue into August, featuring multiple appearances from every team in the league.
- ESPN+’s first season of NPF coverage will culminate with the best-of-five championship series, which gets underway Thursday, Aug. 16.
What They Are Saying:
- Richard Mace, ESPN manager of Programming and Acquisitions: “ESPN+ will now offer the best in professional women’s softball, adding more exclusive live events to its dynamic and growing portfolio. In addition to a robust NPF regular season slate and the league’s championship series, fans will receive a highly personalized experience on the ESPN App and access to a multitude of professional and college games and a full library of on-demand sports content. For softball enthusiasts, ESPN+ offers hundreds of softball games each year from a variety of levels, including Little League Softball in the summer and college action throughout the spring.”
- Cheri Kempf, NPF COmmissioner: “National Pro Fastpitch is thrilled to be included on ESPN+ during the subscription service’s inaugural year. Softball fans have come to rely on ESPN to deliver our fast-paced and entertaining sport, so to include the professional level among coverage options through ESPN+ is a perfect fit. We are looking forward to an exciting season of action, capped off with our Championship Series in August.”
- Cleveland Comets vs. Chicago Bandits (May 31, at 8 p.m. and Aug 3, at 7 p.m.): The first game on the ESPN+ schedule features the four-time Cowles Cup Champions Bandits hosting the Comets (formerly known as the Akron Racers). The Bandits currently hold the most Cowles Cup titles of any team in the league, and were the professional home of softball legend Jennie Finch. Both teams will appear six times on ESPN+ this season.
- USSSA Pride vs. Beijing Eagles (July 3 and July 17 at 7:05 p.m.): The Pride have won three Cowles Cups since joining the league in 2005 and have had nine Olympians on its roster, including current ESPN Sunday Night Baseball and Women’s College World Series analyst Jessica Mendoza. The Eagles were established in May of 2017 with a roster made up primarily of players from the Chinese National Team. The Pride will play six times this season on ESPN+ and the Eagles a total of four times.
- Aussie Spirit’s Inaugural Season (June 5 at 8:05 p.m., June 10 doubleheader at 5 p.m. and June 26 at 8 p.m.): The NPF announced an expansion in December of 2017 with the addition of the Spirit, the team is operated by Softball Australia. The NPF’s newest team will be featured in four games on ESPN+
2018 NPF on ESPN+ Schedule:
|Thu, May 31||8 p.m.||Cleveland vs. Chicago||ESPN+|
|Tue, June 5||11 a.m.||Aussie vs. USSSA||ESPN+|
|Sun, June 10||5 p.m.||Chicago vs. Aussie||ESPN+|
|TBD||Chicago vs. Aussie||ESPN+|
|Tue, June 19||7 p.m.||Cleveland vs. USSSA||ESPN+|
|Tue, June 26||8 p.m.||Cleveland vs. Aussie||ESPN+|
|Tue, July 3||7 p.m.||Beijing vs. USSSA||ESPN+|
|Thu, July 12||6 p.m.||Beijing vs. Chicago||ESPN+|
|TBD||Beijing vs. Chicago||ESPN+|
|Tue, July 17||7 p.m.||USSSA vs. Beijing||ESPN+|
|Tue, July 24||7 p.m.||Cleveland vs. USSSA||ESPN+|
|Fri, Aug 3||7 p.m.||Chicago vs. Cleveland||ESPN+|
|Tue, Aug 7||7 p.m.||USSSA vs. Cleveland||ESPN+|
|Thu, Aug 16||TBD||Cowles Cup Championship Series||ESPN+|
|Fri, Aug 17||TBD||Cowles Cup Championship Series||ESPN+|
|Sat, Aug 18||TBD||Cowles Cup Championship Series||ESPN+|
|Sun, Aug 19||TBD||Cowles Cup Championship Series
|Mon, Aug 20||TBD||Cowles Cup Championship Series
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About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets, and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2018 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.
NPF Commissioner Cheri Kempf has been a softball analyst with ESPN since 2006 and has anchored ESPN’s WCWS studio coverage since 2008.