Want to take your family out to the ballgame in Calhoun County? You may be lucky enough to witness a moonshot–or a grand slam–this summer when the women’s professional softball team Smash It Sports Vipers begins their roster of home games at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Alabama–their new “home” for the next five years.
The Smash It Sports Vipers, a team who is in its second year as part of the women’s professional fastpitch organization, will play 18 home games (out of 36 total) at Choccolocco Park beginning June 23, and wrapping up August 7. While many of the team members began spring training Friday, June 2, some of the players are participating in the College World Series, so will join the others here once their team loses out (or emerges victorious). The paid professional team members will live in Calhoun County for the summer and integrate into the community.
As Lorie Denton, the spokeswoman for City of Oxford, explained, “It’s very important to the organization that they focus on relationship building in the community and with other youth organizations of sports, especially women’s softball.”
This has created a buzz of excitement from local businesses that are eager to show support by hosting meet-and-greets for the team, feeding them, sponsoring them, or helping to build their fanbase. The City of Oxford’s various social media pages (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter) have highlights of the Viper’s players and will stay on top of news updates on the team. And Choccolocco Park management recently made significant upgrades to their Signature Softball Stadium to seat approximately 1300 spectators.
The Smash It Sports Vipers are in their second year as one of 4 teams in the women’s pro fastpitch organization. The other three teams are Oklahoma City Spark, Texas Smoke, and USSSA Pride. 10 of the Vipers players are returning members, while 7 are draftees: 2 from University of Alabama, 1from University of Tennessee, 1from University of California, 1from University of Louisiana Lafayette, and 2 from Oklahoma State University.
Ms. Denton shared that the potential Choccolocco Park has in the Southeast was learned last year when they had Team USA come. The park was “packed out,” and fans got the chance to meet players after the games to get autographs. The Vipers will also provide that opportunity after each home game for interaction with fans and autographs. When the USSSA Pride team played at the park last year, they were highly impressed with the amenities at Choccolocco Park, the friendliness of people they interacted with, and more. Through word of mouth, phone calls, site visits, and negotiation, the Vipers found a home that is more than ready to embrace them with open arms.
“We are very excited,” said Ms. Denton. “This is a huge win, not just for the city of Oxford, but for the entire region of East Alabama, because it does bring softball fans in the community, not just in the state of Alabama, but we’ve already heard from people who live in Tennessee, live in Georgia–they’ve made travel plans to come and watch these girls play.”
Tickets are on sale now at ChoccoloccoPark.com with prices for individual home games being $30/person for premium seats, $20 for baseline seats, and $10 for outfield seats. Season ticket prices are $400 premium/$250 baseline/$100 outfield. Spectators can also buy tickets at the gate. All games start at 7pm.
Choccolocco Park is a massive sports complex consisting of its signature baseball and softball fields, 4 soccer fields, 8 convertible fields for baseball or softball, and an all-purpose field used for cross-country and track and field events. All of these have been utilized since the park first opened in 2016 for Oxford City schools (the signature baseball and softball fields are considered their home fields), surrounding public and private schools in Calhoun County, and as a location for regional competitions.
In just May alone, Choccolocco Park has hosted multiple championship events. The first week of May, 8 baseball and 8 softball teams competed in the Gulf South Conference College Baseball Championship (GSC). The following week, the Alabama Community College Conference Baseball Championship (ACCC) hosted 16 competing teams. After that, 8 college softball teams played in the Ohio Valley Conference Softball Championship (OVC). The month concluded with the Alabama High School Athletic Association Softball and Baseball State Championship (AHSAA), followed by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series Women’s Softball tournament. Ms. Denton explained that all of these
tournaments in May alone, “brought 106 teams to the park with an estimated attendance of about 80,000 people through the gates.”
The events have brought large amounts of visitors to Oxford and surrounding areas who either participate in these events or spectate, who bring business to the hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. The City of Oxford, as Ms. Denton put it, is, “currently in the process of doing an Economic Impact Study with assistance from Alabama Power Company to provide a better insight into what those actual tax dollars being generated look like based on the influx of visitors during these tournaments.”
There’s no doubt that the positive impact from Choccolocco Park on Calhoun County and this region of Alabama is enormous, and will only continue to grow. Some upcoming events to mark your calendars for include the USSSA Baseball Tournament which will bring 125 teams to the park the week of June 15th, and another 125 teams the week after that. At the end of July, they’ll host the USA Softball tournament which will bring 35 teams. One more event slated for next week which is by invite-only, is the East Coast Pro Showcase, where colleges have invited the top 150 high school baseball prospects from across the Southeast to showcase their talent.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, or just looking for something fun to do, there’s plenty going on at Choccolocco Park. Above all, be sure to come out and show your support for our new pro team Smash It Sports Vipers by watching them “smash” the competition. We have a feeling they are going to bat a thousand!