Jan. 25 – OXFORD – The Smash It Sports fastpitch professional softball team will now make Choccolocco Park their new home base.
The official announcement of making a professional sports team part of the Oxford landscape came on Wednesday after Oxford City Council unanimously approved the deal between the city and Smash It Sports during its Tuesday night session.
Rick Schiffhauer, president of Smash It Sports and owner of SIS Vipers, based in Rochester, NY, previously gave a presentation to the council about the idea in December.
As a member of the Women’s Professional Fastpitch League, Smash It Sports has been looking for a permanent home since the 2022 WPF Exhibition Season. During this time they were temporarily housed in Viera, Fla. at the USSSA Space Coast Complex for the USSSA Pride Professional Softball Team.
Another member of the WPF, The Pride played at Choccolocco Park last summer during international exhibition games that served as a precursor to the World Games in Birmingham.
“An important factor in choosing Choccolocco Park was the complex itself,” said Schiffhauer. “Having eight on-site softball fields gives our pro athletes the opportunity to impact youth players on a larger scale. Our goal is to host tournaments and clinics where our pro players work closely with the next generation.”
In addition to the Choccolocco complex, Schiffhauer said, the positive interactions and progressive environment the Oxford representatives have built also played a role in the decision-making process.
WPF Commissioner Lauren Chamberlain called the strategic move and acquisition of the home turf for the Vipers “a huge step forward for our league to solidify ourselves.”
“We’re here to stay and actions like this prove it,” Chamberlain said.
The league has doubled in size this year from last year, adding two new teams from Texas and Oklahoma City.
“We are extremely excited to bring a women’s professional fastpitch franchise to Oxford,” said Don DeDonatis, general manager of the Smash It Sports Vipers. “Having a permanent home to grow our fan base was not only my goal, it was also the goal of the players and coaches. There is nothing better than playing in front of a home crowd and having the support and following. “
Vipers head coach Gerry Glasco said the team is “thrilled to be welcomed to their new home in the hotbed of softball. Alabama loves this sport and is passionate about supporting its teams.”
“We can’t wait to offer the community this opportunity to watch the greatest softball players in the world compete at the highest level of our sport,” said Glasco.
Signature Softball Stadium is currently undergoing various changes for the 2023 season as it updates and expands its locker rooms, seating and field facilities, making it well prepared to host a professional team.
“This takes everything we did at Choccolocco Park and takes it to a whole new level,” said Mayor Alton Craft. “We have now brought our first professional sports franchise to Oxford and there is a wealth of opportunity with this partnership.”
For more information about the new Oxford team, visit the Vipers website at sisviper.com.
Associate writer Brian Graves: 256-236-1551.