Softball Pitcher Monica Abbott Signs $1 Million Deal

BEIJING - AUGUST 20: Monica Abbott #14 of the United States throws a pitch against Japan in the women's semifinals softball event at the Fengtai Softball Field during Day 12 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 20, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Softball pitcher Monica Abbott just signed a $1 million contract that stands as the highest total amount in American women’s team sports.

“I see opportunities for other athletes, for the college girls coming in, for the college freshmen, for the 12-year-olds,” the fastpitch softball player told ESPNw. “I see opportunities for them to only be a professional softball player. To not have to have another career, another job. Hopefully it just raises the bar of our sport.”

Houston’s Scrap Yard Dogs, an expansion team in National Pro Fastpitch, offered the six-year deal to Abbott. She went 13-1 last season en route to a title with the Chicago Bandits. She boasted a stingy .31 ERA and 149 strikeouts in just 90 1/3 innings. She undoubtedly takes the field as the best player in the game. But in a league in which players generally earn $20,000 or so per season the notion of paying one player ten times that amount every year, even if much of the money comes from incentives, may bring ruin should fans look away.

Founded in 1997 and folding in 2001 before a reboot three years later, National Pro Fastpitch features teams in Akron, Ohio, Kissimmee, Florida, Washington, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Illinois, and Woodlands and Dallas, Texas. A majority of the teams competing in the league have gone defunct within a few seasons. The league starts its 13th season since the relaunch at the end of this month.

“I think it’s a proud moment for National Pro Fastpitch,” commissioner Cheri Kempf holds. “But I think it goes further than that. I think it’s a proud moment for women in professional sports in this country.”