RALEIGH, N.C. – French/West/Vaughan (FWV), one of the nation’s leading independently held public relations, advertising and digital marketing agencies, has been selected as PR, marketing and sponsorship development agency of record for National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), the premier women’s professional softball league that is gaining fans on TV and in team markets across the country.
The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball. Some of the current stars of the NPF, many of whom are former U.S. Olympians, include:
- Lauren Chamberlain (Oklahoma) – No. 1 pick of the 2015 NPF College Draft, 2013 NCAA Champion and NCAA career home run leader
- Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma) – 2012 and 2013 National Collegiate Player of the Year, 2013 Women’s College World Series (WCWS) Champion and MVP
- Lacey Waldrop (Florida State) – 2014 National Collegiate Player of the Year
- Lauren Haeger (Florida) – 2015 National Collegiate Player of the Year, 2014 and 2015 WCWS Champion and 2015 WCWS MVP
- Hannah Rogers (Florida) – 2014 WCWS Champion and MVP
- Dallas Escobedo (Arizona State) – 2011 WCWS Champion and MVP
- Monica Abbott (Tennessee) – Regarded as the best fastpitch softball pitcher in the world, a 3-time NPF Cowles Cup Champion and 3-time NPF Championship Series MVP
In 2015, the NPF – an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball – produced games in 17 separate sports venues across eight different states. National TV coverage has grown from two live games on ESPN2 during the 2011-’12 season to 22 live broadcasts, 35 rebroadcasts and two specials on the CBS Sports Network in 2015. The 2016 slate calls for approximately 35 live games and two specials.
Demand for women’s softball on TV is surging. In June, ESPN reported record viewership for the 2015 Women’s College World Series and the most comprehensive regular season coverage ever across the ESPN platform. With the addition of the SEC Network and ESPN3 online coverage, ESPN covered more than 400 college softball games in 2015. In the WCWS Finals, Game 3 between Michigan and Florida drew an audience of 2,273,000 and total viewership for the series was up more than 200 percent over the previous year, a trend confirming that women’s softball is a viable and attractive broadcast commodity.
“With the proven appeal of elite women’s softball, the NPF is extremely well positioned to grow its market share both on television and in stadium venues around the country,” said FWV Chairman and CEO Rick French. “The sport is exciting, fast-paced and driven as much by the star quality of these world-class athletes as it is by the action and intensity on the diamond.”
Based in Nashville, the NPF will become the newest client in FWV’s rapidly expanding Sports & Entertainment practice. The agency currently represents numerous individual NFL and NBA athletes, as well as sporting event partners, sports agents and national brand sponsors. For the NPF, FWV will provide strategic event positioning, sponsorship support and media relations services, working closely with league commissioner, Cheri Kempf.
Kempf was a standout pitcher on the 1992 USA National Team that earned a gold medal in the World Cup in Beijing, and is a two-time Women’s Majors National Champion. For more than a decade she has served as a network analyst for college and professional softball, working with ESPN, Fox Sports, MLB Network, Cox Sports, YES Network and Comcast. Kempf is also the founder of Club K, which at its height was the world’s largest training facility for girls fastpitch softball players.
“FWV has an impressive range of expertise on both sides of the table that will be extremely beneficial to our league as well as to our franchises,” said Kempf. “The NPF is poised for an exciting period of expansion as we grow awareness and sponsor engagement in the months and years ahead.”
— Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch