One week after the Tennessee Diamonds traded away the league’s franchise player, Blount County has lost the professional fast-pitch softball team all together.
National Pro Fastpitch commissioner Cheri Kempf confirmed by phone late Tuesday the Diamonds are moving to Nashville, effectively immediately, with Tennessee State University rumored to be the club’s new home. The Diamonds lost the league’s marquee name a week ago when pitcher Cat Osterman was dealt to the USSSA Pride in a player-for-player swap for former University of Tennessee Lady Vol Monica Abbott.
Kempf said Tuesday it became evident the Diamonds were having funding difficulties with the season set to begin June 9 at Alcoa High School. The decision to move the Diamonds, the NPF’s defending champion as the Rockford Thunder a year ago, was not an easy one.
“Yes, the team is moving,” Kempf said, “and it is mainly a lack of funding in East Tennessee. This is not a move the NPF wanted to make or desired to make.”
The Osterman/Abbott trade was a move negotiated by the respective clubs with the league playing no part, Kempf said.
“It was a smart decision,” she said. “We’re real lucky it worked out the way it did.”
Blount County minority investor Tab Burkhalter said early Tuesday he’d heard rumors about the potential loss of the club but deferred comment to the league office.
“I have not been informed of the any change or relocation of the franchise from the East Tennessee market," he said. "Any questions about the franchise would have to come from the league office in Nashville."
Later Tuesday, Kempf confirmed the worse.