LONDON, 15 MAY – The Great Britain Senior Women's National Fastpitch Team and the Oklahoma City Spark professional softball team have today announced a two-game exhibition series for 6-7 July 2023. The series, to be called the Royal Spark Challenge, will take place at the National Baseball & Softball Complex at Farnham Park in Buckinghamshire and will mark the first time a professional softball team has played in Great Britain.
The Oklahoma City Spark are part of Women's Professional Fastpitch (WPF) in the United States and will be competing in their inaugural season in 2023. The team’s roster features some of the best players in fastpitch softball, including USA Softball’s Jocelyn Alo, Keilani Ricketts, and Michelle Moultrie. The traveling roster for the Spark will be announced closer to the series.
The exhibition series will be a part of preparations by the Great Britain Women’s Team for Group A in the WBSC Softball World Cup, which will be played this summer in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, Ireland, from 11-16 July. Groups B and C will be played later in July in Spain and Italy as 18 of the top softball countries in the world compete for eight places in next year’s WBSC Women’s World Cup Final.
The full Great Britain roster will be announced in June following trials, and further details about their training camp and preparations for Ireland will be announced shortly.
Both games against the Oklahoma City Spark will be free and open to the public, and the Home Plate Bar + Kitchen at Farnham Park will be open for refreshments during and after the games. Each game will take place in the evening, with the first pitch at 6:30 PM.
Commenting on the Series, GB Women’s Team Head Coach Tara Henry said, “To beat the best, you have to prepare against the best. The Royal Spark Challenge gives us that opportunity and is just the beginning of a long-term partnership between Great Britain Softball and Oklahoma City Spark. In preparation for the 2023 Softball World Cup, we could not think of a better training partner to prepare our squad to compete against some of the best teams in the world. We can’t thank the OKC Spark enough for making the journey over to Great Britain to further grow and develop the sport of softball, not only in the United Kingdom but in Europe and across the rest of the world. “
Tina Floyd, owner and General Manager of the Spark, said, “To get the opportunity to play Team Great Britain is so exciting for the Spark and our entire organisation. We feel confident that we will bring great competition with us when we head overseas. We are thrilled to get to showcase the talent of our team on an international platform.
“Building a relationship with our partners in Great Britain is critical for growing this sport,” Floyd added. “On behalf of our players, coaches and management, we are so grateful for this opportunity, and we are looking forward to this series. LET'S GO OKC! LET’S GO SPARK!”
In addition to the exhibition games, the Spark and Great Britain players will run a free fastpitch softball clinic at Farnham Park. The clinic will give British fastpitch players a unique opportunity to learn from both professional and national team players. Further information about the series and clinic will be announced closer to the games.
World Cup tickets
Tickets for the Softball World Cup Group A Qualifier are now on sale through the Irish Softball Federation and can be purchased here. Great Britain will open the Softball World Cup on 11 July at 11.00 am BST against Australia.
Follow the Great Britain Women’s Team on social media @GBWomenSoftball on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, at facebook.com/GBWomenSoftball, and on the British Softball Federation website, britishsoftball.org.