Jan. 25—OXFORD — The Smash It Sports professional fastpitch softball team will now make Choccolocco Park its new home base.
The official announcement making a professional sports team part of the Oxford landscape came Wednesday after the Oxford City Council unanimously approved the contract between the city and Smash It Sports during its Tuesday night meeting.
Smash It Sports President and SIS Vipers owner Rick Schiffhauer, based in Rochester, N.Y., had previously made a presentation to the council in December concerning the idea.
As a member of the Women's Professional Fastpitch League, Smash It Sports has been looking for a permanent home since the WPF Exhibition Season in 2022. During that time, they were temporarily housed in Viera, Fla., at the USSSA Space Coast Complex, home of the USSSA Pride Professional Softball Team.
The Pride is another member of the WPF and played at Choccolocco Park last summer during international exhibition games which served as a precursor to The World Games in Birmingham.
"A major factor in choosing Choccolocco Park was the complex itself," Schiffhauer said. "The eight on-site softball fields provide opportunities for our professional athletes to impact youth players on a larger scale. Our goal is to host tournaments and clinics where our professional players are working closely with the next generation."
In addition to the Choccolocco complex, Schiffhauer said that the positive interactions and progressive environment the representatives at Oxford have built also played a part in the decision-making process.
WPF Commissioner Lauren Chamberlain called the strategic relocation and home field acquisition for the Vipers "a huge step forward for our league in solidifying ourselves."
"We're here to stay and moves like this prove it," Chamberlain said.
The league has doubled this year from last, bringing in two new teams based out of Texas and Oklahoma City.
"We are very 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 has not only been my goal, but the goal of the players and coaches as well. There is nothing better than playing in front of, and having the support and following of, a home crowd."
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 passionately supports its teams."
"We can't wait to provide this opportunity for the community to watch the greatest softball players in the world competing at the highest level of our sport," Glasco said.
Signature Softball Stadium is currently undergoing various changes for the 2023 season as it updates and expands its locker rooms, seating, and field amenities making it well prepared to host a professional team.
"This takes everything we have been doing at Choccolocco Park and elevates it to an entirely new level," said Mayor Alton Craft. "We have now brought in our first professional sports franchise to Oxford and there is an abundance of opportunities this partnership brings."
Additional information about Oxford's new team is available on the Vipers website at sisviper.com.
Staff Writer Brian Graves: 256-236-1551.