The National Pro Fastpitch league has cancelled its 2021 summer season, according to a press release on Thursday morning.
“Confronted with multiple COVID-related problems, the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) has decided to suspend games for the 2021 season,” the statement read. This is the second consecutive league to be cancelled in similar fashion.
Reasons given for the early cancellation included the unavailability of home venues for the league’s member teams, as well as continued COVID-19 protocols and quarantine requirements imposed on international teams who also field teams in the league.
Over the last few years of the league’s existence, it has become a so-called training ground for international teams, as Australia, Canada, Mexico, and China have all fronted league teams. Australia, Canada, and Mexico were expected to again participate in the ultimately-cancelled 2020 season, and were listed in the press release on Thursday as each being directly affected by certain restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Planning for a 2022 season will commence once the issues of safety for fans, players, and staff have been resolved,” the league statement concluded.
Although the NPF did not play a summer season in 2020, pieces of the league’s infrastructure were in use during the inaugural Athletes Unlimited season. The home stadium of the Chicago Bandits served as the home park for the full Athletes Unlimited season, while NPF commissioner Cheri Kempf took on an advisory board role, and later additional duties, with the new venture. Athletes Unlimited has already announced plans to play their 2nd softball season in 2021.