Softball brings the professional Spark to campus

Photo credit: OKC Spark Softball

Oklahoma’s new professional softball team, Spark, played for a sold-out crowd June 15 at the University of Central Oklahoma. Spark consists of former college softball players from all over the country, and some big names like Jocelyn Alo and Keilani Ricketts, two University of Oklahoma alums, are representing the state at the pro level. 

The first six games were held at Gerry Pinkston Stadium. Dr. Gerry Pinkston threw the first pitch. Opening day and the second game are both sold out, with bleachers added in the outfield to accommodate more fans.

Spark played the Vipers and were up 4-1 before having to postpone the opening game due to weather.

Softball is growing quickly in national popularity, but especially in Oklahoma. OU’s softball team just won its third consecutive national championship at The Women’s College World Series at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. UCO’s softball team made it to the Division II WCWS this year but fell short of the championship game. 

Photo credit: OKC Spark Softball

This professional team is already growing celebrity status, and UCO, as host, is benefiting from its popularity. 

People of all ages came out to see this team get their start. Little girls brought their gloves hoping for a foul or home-run ball to have signed after. Older folks had their baseball caps on and ready to help the umpire make the calls from behind the home plate. 

Brooke Niver, a catcher, outfielder and utility player for UCO, went to the game and discussed the impact the Spark is bringing to UCO and the state.

“It’s like worlds are combining for me,” said Niver.

Niver discussed watching Ricketts play for OU when she was 10 years old and wanting to play softball for UCO. Getting to see her role model play on her own field was a surreal experience for Niver, who said that, now that Oklahoma has a professional team, it tells young ones it is possible. 

The team looked pretty powerful with a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first with back-to-back home runs. Making for a promising season for this brand-new team.

“Oklahoma is a softball state,” Niver said. “This team is literally going to spark something in the Oklahoma atmosphere about professional softball.”

The Spark are playing three-night stands in Viera, Florida and Oxford, Alabama before returning to Oklahoma City on July 1. 

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