MARION, IL (KFVS) - A National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) team is going to call Southern Illinois home for at least one season.
In an announcement at Rent One Park in Marion, Il., the Southern Illinois Miners revealed they will be hosting Softball Canada, a pro softball team, for their 2019 season.
The team from Canada has been named Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois and they will play at least 25 home games at Rent One Park.
The Wild will also play 25 away games.
The game schedule has not been finalized, but the season is expected to begin in late May and last through at least Aug. 10, 2019.
These ladies will not only play here at the ballpark, but also will prepare to go to the Olympics in 2020. The Olympics committee says Softball and Baseball will NOW be able to return to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
One of the players, Victoria Hayward, is excited to make Southern Illinois her home.
“We are so excited to bring the game the NFP to this area and hopefully build a community here,” said Hayward.
Miners Manager Mike Pinto says, "It’s a great opportunity to multi-use our ballpark an opportunity for us to have world class athletes here in our stadium to have former Olympians and future Olympians.”
The team consisting of 25 ladies between the ages of 18-37 will partner with SIUC to utilize their facilities for their living and training space.
The Wild schedule will also overlap with the Miner’s schedule.
Ticket prices have not been finalized, but Miner’s Head Coach Mike Pinto says they will be less than those for the Miner’s.
During the softball games, the fences will be shortened and the pitching mound will be pulled out.
According to Coach Pinto, Softball Canada was looking at three locations to call home for the next year or two in order to train for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan and to play NPF matches.
In Tuesday’s announcement, Softball Canada chose Southern Illinois to call home for one year with an option for one more.
Softball Canada Chief Executive Officer Hugh Mitchener said their organization had been looking for a facility to call home and close to competition in North America.
In September, Softball Canada visited Rent One Park, facilities at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and looked at housing options.
“The ballpark is just outstanding,” said Michener. “We were looking for a great facility to play in and we were blown away."
While the Wild will play in Marion, the team will also train for the 2020 Olympics at facilities on the SIU campus.
Michener says the SIU facilities will be in walking distance of where the team will be living.
Softball Canada is ranked the number three team in the world.