By Erik Harris
Hoover – For too many years great softball players had no stage to take, no spotlight to own, no crowd to dazzle. At least not after their college careers were over.
But thanks to the NPF (National Pro Fastpitch), those college stars now have an opportunity to take their game to the professional level, and locals will have an opportunity to see them in action this summer.
The National Pro Fastpitch Championship will be held in Hoover Metropolitan Stadium from Friday, Aug. 14 through Tuesday, Aug. 18.
For five days, metro Birmingham will witness the sport at its highest level. According to league commissioner Cheri Kempf, the championship series will feature “the very best [players] in the game.”
“I think it can be educational [for players], because you don’t realize extraordinary until you see it,” said Kempf. “Extraordinary is not something you can imagine. You have to see it, and I think [the tournament] can turn on a light for players that are trying to improve their game and develop their skills.”
The tournament will designate one night – most likely Monday, Aug. 17 – to offer a buy one ticket, get one free deal for high school and middle school athletes of any sport who arrives wearing their uniform.
Kempf hopes to inspire young girls and encourage them to pursue a career as a professional softball player.
“We know that even some of our players looked at this opportunity as a little girl and set their sights on it,” she said. “We also know that little girls now that are exposed to this product will also be inspired to dream of being a professional athlete one day.”
Five teams compete in the league, which started in 2004. All five will take the filed in Hoover later this summer for the league title. To advance in the tournament, teams must win a best two out of three series.
A pair of semifinal games will be played on Friday, Aug. 14 starting with the opener at 6 p.m. The nightcap will follow at 9 p.m. Semifinal action will resume on Saturday at noon, followed by Game 4 at 3 p.m.
The if-necessary games will be played on Sunday, followed by Game 1 of the championship series, which also falls under a best two out of three format. Game 1 is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Teams will take the diamond for the second contest of the championship series on Monday at 8 p.m. The if-necessary rubber match will be played on Tuesday night at 8.
General admission for a single day of games will cost . Fans also have the option to buy package deals, which cost for Friday through Sunday games and for Friday through Monday entry.
Club level, VIP club level and NPF awards banquet tickets are also available. Tickets are currently available for purchase here.