News release from the NPF website, posted 4/11/17:
National Pro Fastpitch Announces Addition of Chinese Team Beginning With 2017 Season
NASHVILLE – National Pro Fastpitch announced the addition of a sixth affiliate team that will begin participation when the 2017 regular season launches June 1. The team, Beijing Shougang, is managed by the Chinese Softball Association (CSA) and will be made up of players currently in the national team pool for CSA, along with a select few American team members.
Although the team is managed by CSA, its eventual permanent home location for NPF competition will be located in the United States and announced at a later date. This season, Beijing Shougang will play all “home” games in current home venues of the other five affiliate NPF teams.
This move is an unprecedented and outstanding step forward for Chinese Softball and a ground-breaking experiment for the Chinese softball team.
“We hope that participating in NPF competition will accelerate the skills advancement of our players in the near term,” explained the CEO of Beijing Shougang Sports, Qin Xiaowen. “Looking ahead, the company plans to invest in the future development of professional baseball and softball and promote the development of other related projects in China.”
The 2017 schedule which was announced earlier this year has been adjusted and revised to accommodate even competition between the six teams. That schedule consists of 150 regular season games, 50 for each team, broken down to 25 home and 25 away games.
The roster for Beijing Shougang is expected to be at maximum capacity of 26 players with the majority of those players being Chinese and identified in the CSA pool of athletes training for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where softball will once again be on the slate of medal sports. The team expects to add a handful of American players that will compliment the existing Chinese roster and enhance the team’s competitiveness for NPF competition, specifically in the area of pitching.
“This is a landmark move for the league and one we are extremely proud to announce,” commented NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “It continues to be a priority of the league, to include the world’s best players and to impact the growth, development and popularity of this incredible game on a global scale. This addition, on top of the involvement of Softball Australia, which was announced earlier this year, speaks loudly to our goals and commitment to doing that.”