The Alabama Highschool Athletics Association and the City of Oxford announced that the State Softball Tournament is moving to Choccolocco Park in May.
The tournament is typically held in Montgomery every year, but officials planning the event are working closely with the city’s Parks and Recreation department to make the move.
The city’s Director of the Marketing and Public Relations Department, Emil Loeken, said originally the regional tournament was scheduled to take place at Choccolocco Park.
“The AHSAA, the Alabama High School Athletic Association, they basically asked us if we could switch tournaments. Instead of having the regional tournament, we’re doing the state tournament. The AHSAA, they were proactive in making the move,” Loeken said.
“It’s a tournament we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. So we’re very happy with it.“
The tournament will bring in a total of 56 teams to the area and according to Oxford Highschool Softball Head Coach, Wendy McKibbin, the potential to bring in even more for other tournaments.
“Playing at Choccolocco Park, we are very blessed here at Oxford High School. That’s a phenomenal place, McKibbin said. “We had a big tournament out there last week and we’re getting a lot of pull from Birmingham Schools, and schools two or three hours away because one: it’s a nice park, but now that the state tournament is there I think our tournament will be bigger in the future.”
According to the City of Oxford’s Parks and Recreation Department’s website, Choccolocco Park is a “Nationally ranked, award winning sports complex”, offers multiple sports arenas with massive four and five “pod” fields and a signature softball field with a seating area capable of housing up to 800 spectators.
McKibbin said there was no comparison between Choccolocco Park and the playing field in Montgomery. She said there was much more area between the fields, newer, nicer, and “state of the art.”
“You can watch a ball game and not feel like you’re going to be hit in the top of head with a foul ball coming from another field,” McKibbin said.
McKibbin stated that Oxford Highschool would still have to qualify for their area in the regional tournament in Montgomery if they hope to play in the state tournament. She said this area is really tough but that she thinks “if we play well, we have a really good opportunity.”
McKibbin also said a lot of their team is young and inexperienced at playing varsity level positions this year due to some injuries. There has been a slow start to the season, but for the last few weeks they’ve played really well.
Asked what key players to look out for this year, McKibbin named Ellie Derrick, Tia Titi, and TK Garrett as up and coming players to be excited for.