AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin has a new professional sports team in town: The Texas Smoke, the fourth franchise team in Women’s Professional Fastpitch (WPF) softball.
The team is owned by professional athletes and couple Brandon Phillips and Jade Cargill. Phillips previously played in Major League Baseball and currently plays for the Lexington Legends. Cargill is the current and longest-reigning All Elite Wrestling champion.
“My sister was like the best softball player back in the day. And she didn’t have the resources, or they didn’t have this type of league, that could let her prolong her career,” Phillips said. “I was like, what if I can invest in something that makes these ladies really have a chance to prolong their career?”
The team will be coached by Tori Tyson, who is the current softball head coach at Howard University and previously an assistant coach for the Chicago Bandits, another professional fastpitch softball team.
“I am thrilled to be returning to professional fastpitch softball,” said Tyson in a press release. “Being a small part of these players’ continuing their careers is an honor. I hope to bring the tools that allow these players to grow further and keep their love for the game alive.”
The choice of Austin is all about the city’s growth and culture for Phillips. He feels the team and sport will bring a great and exciting show to the city.
“The game of softball is bigger than what people think, they just don’t get the exposure that they should,” Phillips said. “But I’m here to really change that. The city of Austin, and also when we play the other teams in our division, we want to show them how to do it the right way.”
The Texas Smoke’s roster includes Janae Jefferson, AnaMarie Bruni, Ciara Bryan, Jordan Dail, Marta Gasparotto, Morgan Howe, Alyssa Rivera, Samantha Show and Shelbi Sunseri.
The Texas Smoke will play its first game when the season begins on June 15. For those who haven’t seen fastpitch softball, Phillips promises an exciting show.
“Just come and try. This game is so much faster than it is in baseball. But if you come to a game, you will be entertained, because this is The Texas Smoke, and it’s gonna be a show.”