Woodward, Okla. —
One of the most asked sports-related questions in these parts: How’s that new baseball stadium?
Answer, very nice, thank you!
While not downtown like the ones in Enid and Bartlesville, the new Fuller Park is one of the anchors at Crystal Beach Park and is just across the street from the Aquatics Center and the Crystal Beach Stadium, which hosts rodeos and other events. It helps make the entire park a centerpiece for activity in the community and the entire area.
Yes, it is coming on line later than planned and expected and yes, you can always find a few things to nit-pick of complain about, but this baseball park is outstanding and will benefit the community for decades to come.
The new Fuller Park gives Woodward one of the top youth baseball facilities in Oklahoma. Combined with the 5-plex just across the way, the total complex offers opportunities for competition and tournaments at all age levels.
As promised softball and soccer complexes are added over the next year or two, Woodward’s youth sports facilities will match or exceed those of any similar-sized and even many larger communities in the state.
The multi-million dollar baseball complex also puts Woodward back in the conversation when organizations begin looking for tournament sites.
Does that mean a state high school tournament is heading this way? Not likely since those are decided more on central location than anything else - though it’s not unheard of. Rader Park in Weatherford was home to the Class B state tournament for a number of years in the 1990s.
It does, however, give Woodward High School perhaps a better opportunity to host a high school regional, or certainly an in-season invitational tournament or major festival in the spring.
The new park also allows for the occasional college game, and Northwestern and Panhandle are expected to play each other at Fuller Park next spring.
Even one owner-manager of an independent league pro team planning to join the Continental Baseball League has inquired about playing some games at the new Fuller Park. Now, independent teams tend to come and go, but the league itself is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and has been around since 2005 and currently has 4 teams with ideas on adding a couple more. Each league team plays around 60 games.
Through the summer, the Woodward Travelers will remain the major tenant.
This year, for instance, the Traveler Majors are scheduled to play 20 dates at Fuller Park for a total of 43 games, plus a season-ending tournament.
The Traveler Minors have 13 dates with 26 games plus a Fourth of July Tournament - a first for the area in at least 30 years.
Those home schedules could easily grow in future years as word spreads about the new park.
Certainly more games can be played there during the year. Enid’s David Allen Memorial Park has something going on almost every night from May through August, as well as in the early spring and early fall.
Now, with the new facilities, there isn’t any reason the same thing can’t happen here.
Want to see the new Fuller Park up close and personal? Mark down June 1.
That’s opening night for the Woodward Travelers and several things are scheduled.
An open house starts at 4 p.m.
At 5 p.m. ceremonies to open the park are scheduled. Plans include inviting as many former Traveler players and coaches as possible. In addition, there will be celebrities to throw out first pitches and more.
Then, at 6 p.m. it is game time with the Traveler Majors hosting the Oklahoma Baseball Academy, operated by Damon Minor, a former Traveler player, OU player and a Major Leaguer with the San Francisco Giants.
Admission is free for opening night.
Two Arnett players have been selected to the Small West All-State team by the Oklahoma Coaches Association.
Pitcher Brycen Shoaf and outfielder Marc White will be eligible to play in the OCA All-State game on July 26 at Oral Roberts University.
Watonga had one selection, infielder Corbin Nelson.
The Large West includes two players from Weatherford, pitcher Dillon Overton and infielder Jake Barrios. Barrios, by the way, will be playing for the Woodward Travelers this summer.
Woodward will have 2 coaches leading teams in All-State games this year. Tyler Knoblock is coaching the West team in the soccer games and Corey Miller is one of the coaches for the Large West team in the All-State basketball games. One of the Small West coaches, by the way, is Greg Higgins of Texhoma.
Johnny McMahan is managing editor of the Woodward News.