Sunday, February 1, 2015

NPF Charges Into the LoneStar State

It surprised many when the NPF announced an expansion into the state of Texas. A fifth team, the Charge, will enter the league and be based in Dallas.

Despite expansion into the vast & softball-loving Texas market being long on the NPF’s radar, not many expected the announcement. When it was made official and announced for the world to see, a league that some thought was doomed to stay with four teams began to show new life and promise.

With Kevin Shelton of the Texas Glory & NFCA Board of Directors on board as the Charge’s general manager, the Charge already have one of the biggest names in prep softball in the state in their corner. Add to that the marketing expertise of Texas A&M great Jami Lobpries & the team’s head coach, Texas Longhorns assistant Jennifer McFalls and the Charge can count themselves lucky to have three of the state’s biggest names in the sport (at many different levels) on their payroll.

The owner of the team remains elusive. Touted as wanting to “remain in the shadows, for now” and rarely, if ever, referenced in stories about the team, the name of the one who writes the paychecks remains a secret. Contrary to the unfortunately becoming-popular belief, the owner is a single individual who does NOT currently own or operate a team in the league.

Per league commissioner Cheri Kempf, there will be no "expansion draft" to help fill the roster of the Charge. Instead, the newest team will benefit from extra selections throughout the later rounds of the first-year player draft - an extra selection in rounds 3 & 4 and multiple extra picks in round #6.

What do the players have to say about this new team? I received statements from 2014 rookies Anna Miller & Cassie Tysarczyk; Tysarczyk attended Texas A&M University, so this new team is right in her "backyard". Here's what they had to say:

Miller: "I am excited to see change. The greatest opportunity for exposure is to grow the league and someday, I dream we have a team in every state. The NPF is creating buzz around this growth and I hope it continues to unveil new teams each year."

Tysarczyk: "The establishment of an NPF team in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is a huge stride for our league and for our sport. As a Texas native, I see on a daily basis softball's growth at youth and collegiate levels. Texas has proven its strength in participation and talent in softball in the past several years. This opens up many opportunities for both the Texas market and the Dallas Charge to work cohesively in providing young girls with tangible examples of driven and passionate women competing at the highest level. The Dallas Charge can finally provide young Texas athletes with role models whose shoes they can one day fill. On a selfish note, I'm excited for the USSSA Pride to travel to Texas and take on the Dallas Charge. I get to come home to familiar territory and play in front of my family and friends. As athletes, we are always excited about news of league expansion and attention. Looking forward to more exciting this news this offseason!"

- Chicago Bandits traded Megan Wiggins Andi Williamson to the Pennsylvania Rebellion for Tatum Edwards Taylor Edwards.
- Pennsylvania Rebellion traded Megan Wiggins & the #11 pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft to the USSSA Pride for Kristyn Sandberg & the #6 and #14 picks in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.
- Akron Racers announced the resigning of eight players - Jill Barrett; Haley Outon; Alison Owen; Jenny Gilbert; Ashley Thomas; Kelley Montalvo; Jessica Garcia; and Taylor Schlopy.
- Chicago Bandits announce the resigning of two veteran players - Tammy Williams and Amber Patton.
- Pennsylvania Rebellion traded Sarah Pauly to the Akron Racers for the #8 pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft and a third-round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft.
- Dallas Charge announced the first free agent signing in franchise history - Jolene Henderson.
- Pennsylvania Rebellion traded Andi Williamson to the USSSA Pride for Alexa Peterson and the #25 pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

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