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WPF Smoke Alert: Texas Announces Name, Head Coach

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The fourth franchise in Women’s Professional Fastpitch officially has a name and a head coach.

The Texas Smoke, which is owned by former Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and pro wrestler Jade Cargill, will play in Austin, Texas and be coached by Howard University head coach Tori Tyson.

The Smoke join the Oklahoma City Spark, USSSA Pride and SIS Vipers in the WPF, which begins its inaugural season on June 15th. The Smoke is still finalizing the contract for where they will be playing home games.

“I am thrilled to join the world of women’s professional fastpitch softball,” said Phillips, a four-time Gold Glove winner, in a press release Wednesday. “These players are amazing athletes and we will bring them a new level of support to help them hone their craft.”

Tyson will be the first head coach of a professional fastpitch team to come from a Historically Black College and University. Tyson previously served as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bandits in National Pro Fastpitch. The former Nebraska team captain is in her fifth season leading Howard and guided the Bison to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship in 2022.

“I am thrilled to be returning to professional fastpitch softball,” Tyson said. “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 roster for the Smoke includes former University of Texas All-American Janae Jefferson, former Oklahoma State pitcher/utility and Texas native Samantha Show, former LSU pitcher and Texas native Shelbi Sunseri and Arizona State RBI leader Morgan Howe.

The Community Factory, an Austin-based agency, has been brought on to serve as creators of a tailored monetary strategy for each player on the Smoke while also overseeing the team’s brand partnerships. Veteran sports agent and marketing executive Eric Mays will be the general manager, and former professional baseball outfielder Courtney Hawkins and former Texas A&M-Corpus Christi/NPF pitcher Sarah Pauly will be the assistant GMs.

Physical therapist and athletic trainer Cullen Nigrini is the Smoke’s Chief Medical Officer and Dr. Jess Garza will be the team’s mental performance consultant.


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