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Softball star Jocelyn Alo makes her pro, WPF debut in Shawnee to much fanfare

9-year-old Journi Hill went to Recreation 1 of the Girls’s Faculty World Collection to see her favourite participant, Oklahoma softball celebrity Jocelyn Alo, lead the Sooners to a nationwide championship.

9 days later, for her first professional softball sport ever, Journi and her dad Chris drove two-and-a-half hours to look at Alo’s debut within the Girls’s Skilled FastPitch league on the Shawnee Mission Softball Advanced.

Alo’s journey from her remaining faculty sport to her first professional softball sport was somewhat extra rocky. The Hauula, Hawaii product caught a “dangerous case” of COVID after celebrating her NCAA title.

“My life simply sort of hit a 180,” Alo stated. “It’s been sort of onerous to regulate, however I’m taking it day-to-day.”

However she was in a position to get again onto the sphere in time for the final of three video games performed by the WPF in Shawnee to kick off the league’s summer season schedule.

On the Shawnee Mission Softball Advanced, time appeared to face nonetheless at any time when Alo went as much as bat on Friday. The packed crowd pulled their telephones out to report and appeared to carry their breath as they waited for the all-time NCAA home-run report holder to flash her energy.

“(Softball) has at all times been my outlet,” Alo stated. “So simply to be again out on the sphere, I really feel like I simply forgot about the whole lot I’ve to fret about exterior of this.”

In her first at-bat, Alo dribbled a weak grounder and reached base on an error by the opposing third baseman.

“I used to be very nervous,” Alo stated. “I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s simply one other sport, however I obtained somewhat antsy up there.’ However at the least I didn’t strike out.”

Alo didn’t even report an out: reaching base on all 4 of her at-bats together with two screaming liners for a double and a single.

The gang groaned on her fourth at-bat as an opposing pitcher pitched round Alo on a four-pitch stroll.

It wasn’t Alo that went deep first on Friday, nonetheless. Within the first inning, former Texas Longhorns rival and now teammate Mary Iakopo smashed a three-run residence run that simply glanced off the glove of an opposing left fielder attempting to make a seize over the fence.

The lengthy bomb gave the Smash It Vipers a lead they’d by no means relinquish, successful 11-4.

“(Alo) is one in every of my greatest buddies off the sphere,” Iakopo stated, “so it’s good to lastly see her and no longer ever must pitch to her once more. I’m glad she’s on our group, and we get to attain runs for a similar group.”

Alo joined the Vipers and the newly established WPF to a lot fanfare on Monday. Whereas she wasn’t on the league’s inaugural opening day on Tuesday on account of COVID, a contingent of devoted Sooner followers had been nonetheless in attendance to assist her, in addition to one other former Oklahoma softball star: Lauren Chamberlain.

The WPF commissioner, Chamberlain ranks second all-time within the NCAA in residence runs behind Alo. Her work behind the scenes for the WPF satisfied a number of gamers and coaches to return play within the league, together with former UCLA star and Olympian Delaney Spaulding.

“When Lauren was explaining to me what she needs the WPF to be, I used to be purchased in,” Spaulding stated. “Good after that dialog, I used to be like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”

Alo, the primary choose by the Vipers, had her alternative between WPF and Athletes Limitless, one other softball league now coming into its third season. So did Iakopo.

The 2 each cited the WPF’s dedication to selling gamers and placing gamers first of their option to play for the newly-formed softball league.

“The commissioner and the individuals behind the scenes are at all times going to be sure that they’ve our greatest pursuits at hand as an individual earlier than as a participant,” Alo stated. “That’s what finally bought me to the WPF.”

A lot of the gang on Friday included youth softball league members who had performed earlier within the day on the Shawnee Mission Softball Advanced. The WPF is enjoying a condensed, exhibition summer season schedule that follows softball tournaments throughout the nation.

It’s a part of Chamberlain’s mission to “shield the dream” of enjoying skilled softball and develop the game past its faculty fame.

Mississippi State softball assistant coach John Johnson stated he thought the “barnstorming, grassroots” type video games being performed is bringing necessary publicity to the league.

“I hear recruits speaking about it. I hear dad and mom speaking about it,”Johnson stated. “There’s a variety of curiosity right here, and there’s a big fan base — we noticed that with the (Girls’s Faculty) World Collection. There’s a fan base. We simply must faucet into it.”

On Friday, many of the curiosity was geared towards Alo.

Name it the “Jocelyn impact,” as Chris termed it. He and his daughter Journi weren’t the one ones to make the journey to Oklahoma Metropolis for the Girls’s Faculty World Collection after which to Shawnee for Alo’s professional softball debut.

Madison Perez, sporting an Oklahoma shirt with Alo’s No. 78 on the again that had been signed by the previous Sooners star, has performed softball and been a fan since she was 5 years outdated. Watching Alo hit two residence runs in Recreation 1 of the WCWS was her favourite softball second ever.

On the alternative discipline of the advanced Friday, there was one other softball legend drawing consideration from the gang: Monica Abbott, probably the greatest pitchers in softball historical past who spent a lot of her skilled years enjoying abroad within the Japan Softball League.

“I noticed some actually fascinating expressions from my ladies watching her,” youth softball coach Taylor Bartlett stated. “I used to be like, ‘Wow, they’re actually starstruck.’”

Alo is drawing the identical response as she begins her professional profession at 23. However Vipers head coach Gerry Glasco is hopeful that by the WPF, her followers will have the ability to watch her profession right here in the US.

“For me, it was enjoyable to see how a lot she means to the little ladies up there,” Glasco stated. “That’s their hero. So to have the ability to maintain watching their hero on the sphere and watch her as she grows older is basically particular.”

However Alo isn’t setting any objectives or expectations for her professional profession.

“I simply wish to sort of soak all of it up,” Alo stated. “I really feel like somewhat child once more, like a freshman out on the sphere once more. I simply wish to get pleasure from it.”

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