Not only has it served as the home venue for Crimson Tide standouts such as Kelly Kretchman, Haylie McCleney, Jaclyn Traina, Stephanie VanBrakle and Alexis Osorio for nearly two decades, but it has also hosted numerous NCAA and Southeastern Conference tournament games, and it’s largely considered the top softball facility in the nation by many.
And the famed Tuscaloosa stadium, which seats 3,940 fans, will soon receive even more of a national spotlight.
It was initially announced in February that National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), in agreement with Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports (TTS), will bring the 2016 NPF Championship Series to Rhoads Stadium.
The four-team tournament will begin on Friday, Aug. 19, and the best-of-three title series is set to begin on Sunday, Aug. 21. The series concludes on either Monday, Aug. 22 or Tuesday, Aug. 23, based on the results of the final series.
This will be the first time that the NPF Championships will be played on a college campus, although nearby Hoover Metropolitan Stadium has previously hosted the event.
"The NPF Championship Series is a great opportunity for Tuscaloosa to host athletes and visitors from all over the world," said Jay Kasten, who is the Director of Sports for TTF. "The event will be an exciting time for the city, and it is expected to have a large economic impact on our community. We are proud to support such a great event and look forward to packing out Rhoads Stadium."
The NPF was initially created in 1997 to provide elite female fast pitch softball players an avenue for which to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport. Fans attending the series will be able to watch some of the most celebrated and decorated college softball players in the nation, as well as Olympic gold and silver medalists and top players from Canada and Japan.
Softball fans can expect to see former college standouts Lauren Chamberlain (Oklahoma), Monica Abbott (Tennessee), Andrea Duran (UCLA), Lauren Haeger and Hannah Rogers (Florida), Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma), as well as former Crimson Tide standouts such as All-American and Gold Medalist Kretschman, Traina and Kelley Montalvo.
Kretschman, who also serves as an assistant coach at Texas State, said she is ecstatic to have the opportunity to once again play in the stadium where she became perhaps the Crimson Tide’s most accomplished and prolific player ever.
“I am really excited that the championship series is going to be here this year, and it’s been exciting the last two years having it in (Hoover), but the fact that it’s going to be at my home and where I started my career is amazing to me,” she said. “I am so passionate about the game, and I love playing the game of softball. And now that the championships are coming to Tuscaloosa, I am really, really glad I made that decision not to retire.”