After two years in operation, the American Softball Association (ASBA) has announced the suspension of league operations in February 2020.
“Acting in the best interest of our players and the entire sport of softball has always been our top priority,” the ASBA said in a statement. “The ASBA was created as a model designed to prove concept, generate revenue, and demonstrate that a self-reliant financial ecosystem is possible for a women’s sports organization. We remain fully committed to our belief that this is possible; however, the company has been unable to attract sufficient investment capital to move forward.”
Headquartered in the Mobile, Alabama area, the ASBA sought to present themselves as a professional alternative for players from all collegiate levels. Key differences from other professional offerings included a first-year player draft that took place after the end of the collegiate season, with only players who had registered for the draft eligible to be selected.
During the league’s two years of on-field existence, a number of National Pro Fastpitch alumni participated in the league. That group included former Chicago Bandit RT Cantillo; Dallas Charge alum Emily Vincent; and ex-Akron Racers/Cleveland Comets Maddy Grimm and Devin Brown.
League games took place in Satsuma, Alabama, a suburb of Mobile. The ASBA started an online streaming network for the summer league’s games, and engaged both up-and-coming coaches and established, lower-level collegiate coaches to guide league teams. The league’s business model included players being part of a scaled profit-sharing enterprise, though the league’s inability to gain immediate traction resulted in low player salaries.
The ASBA statement also noted that the league “will continue to assess our progress toward return-to-service milestones and make determinations about resuming the league accordingly,” noting that a “quality product” being delivered was key to any potential revival.