Last summer, at the Babe Ruth World series in Jensen Beach, Florida, a 14U softball team from southern Oklahoma was named World Series champions in their division. The USA Glory from Broken Bow, Oklahoma, made their town and softball league proud with an outstanding season. Along with the coaches, team and town, this victory was especially rewarding to Oklahoma’s Babe Ruth softball commissioner, Joe Shields, given that eight short years ago, Babe Ruth softball in Oklahoma was practically non-existent.
Shields has been a part of Babe Ruth softball since he joined as an umpire in 1999 in LaGrange, Texas. After he umpired in the 2003 Babe Ruth World Series, in Louisville, Kentucky, he then knew he would be working with Babe Ruth for a long time. Years later, after an unexpected move to Oklahoma with his family, Joe took on the role of Babe Ruth Softball commissioner in 2009. “When [Sonny Grooms] first appointed me as a commissioner for Oklahoma, there was not a Babe Ruth softball program for leagues to join,” Shields said. “In fact, one of the first teams to join our program, The Heat from Little Kansas, Oklahoma, had been traveling to Arkansas to play under the Arkansas Babe Ruth softball program.”
Oklahoma had seen a steady growth in Babe Ruth softball in the first few years of establishment. Which lead to a dual state Championship with Arkansas in 2013 (given the lack of Oklahoma teams at the time). Since then, Oklahoma has held a state championship every year in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Broken Bow softball and baseball joined the Babe Ruth league in 2014, and has continuously shown their talent year, after year. “I started having tournaments in Broken Bow because of their enthusiasm for softball,” Shields said. “Given their hard work and dedication to the program, it was hard not to recognize their overwhelming support.” It was then that USA Glory first made their impression on Babe Ruth Softball.
After their renowned victory at the World Series last year, the USA Glory team is back and ready for another great season. Shields has high hopes to take more teams to Jensen Beach to compete in the 2017 World Series; seeing as, because of last year’s triumph, the softball program for the state has grown immensely. In the past year alone, two leagues have joined Oklahoma Babe Ruth softball. “Aside from promoting Babe Ruth, last year’s success has caused a buzz in the state about Oklahoma softball,” Shields said. “Being that Broken Bow is such a small town, USA Glory’s win has shown other small town leagues that if they work hard, they can go far.” Needless to say, even though softball season has just begun, Oklahoma is already looking forward to a successful season, and a bright future for all of their teams.