Sydney McKinney

AU Pro Softball to Bring AUX Softball to Kansas

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Athletes Unlimited
Nov 17, 2023
  • Wichita State University to Host AU Pro Softball’s AUX Competition in Multi-Year Deal
  • Former Wichita State Star Sydney McKinney Among World’s Top Pro Softball Players Set to Compete

Wichita, Kan. & New York, N.Y. – Athletes Unlimited Pro Softball today announced a multi-year agreement with Wichita State University to bring professional women’s sports to the state of Kansas, becoming the first pro women’s sports league ever to play a full season in Wichita. Beginning next summer, Wilkins Stadium, home of Wichita State Softball, will play host to AU Pro Softball’s AUX competition.

AU Pro Softball AUX (pronounced A-U-X), is an intense competition featuring 18 games across two weeks with the world’s best athletes competing in an innovative format to crown an individual champion. It is followed later in the summer by the AU Pro Softball Championship season in Rosemont, Ill. The 2024 event in Wichita will take place June 10-24, with season ticket deposits now being taken. 

AU Pro Softball is part of Athletes Unlimited, which was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2023 and features an Advisory Board comprised of an illustrious group of high-profile contributors from the worlds of sports, business and entertainment including softball icons Jessica Mendoza and Cat Osterman, basketball legend Sheryl Swoopes, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team superstar Abby Wambach; and two-time NBA champion and entrepreneur Kevin Durant, among many others. 

Former Wichita State star and three-time All-American Sydney McKinney, who was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2023 AU Pro Softball College Draft, has already signed on to compete in the 2024 competition alongside Olympians and other world-class athletes. Pitcher Rachel Garcia (who won a silver medal for Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics) was crowned the 2023 AUX Softball champion, while pitcher Danielle O’Toole won the inaugural competition in 2022. The full roster, game schedule and broadcast details will be announced at a later date. 

Wichita State University and Shocker Athletics are set to embark on a $19.85 million renovation project at Wilkins Stadium. A lead gift of $1.5 million was recently announced for Phase 1 of a 4-phase master plan, which will begin development in the spring of 2024. Over the last two years, Wichita State has collectively invested over $2 million in Wilkins Stadium upgrades to include new lights, batting cages, third base dugout and an artificial playing surface. Under head coach Kristi Bredbenner, Wichita State has risen to national success, including three straight NCAA Regional appearances and five of the last seven NCAA Tournaments. Fresh off its second American Athletic Conference championship in three years, Wichita State has won 67 percent of its games (239-119) over the last six full seasons, most recently a 44-12 campaign in 2023. The 44 wins were the second-most in school history. 

“Wilkins Stadium is a world-class softball venue, and everyone at Wichita State and Visit Wichita have been so eager and enthusiastic about bringing AU Pro Softball to their community. We are thrilled to make this commitment and call Wichita home for AUX Softball,” said Athletes Unlimited Senior Vice President and Director of Sport for Softball Cheri Kempf. “We look forward to bringing Sydney McKinney back home as a professional athlete to compete in front of the incredible Wichita fans, along with dozens more of the world’s top pros.” 

“Wichita State and Wilkins Stadium are connected to some of my best memories as a softball player, and I’m so excited to be able to come back home as a professional with AU Pro Softball alongside the world’s top players,” said Sydney McKinney. “The Athletes Unlimited format is truly unique, and I can’t wait to see Wichita fans fill the stadium next summer to enjoy it.” 

“We are thrilled to host Athletes Unlimited over the next two summers at Wichita State University and Wilkins Stadium. This is a testament to what head coach Kristi Bredbenner and her student-athletes have built over the last decade,” said Wichita State University Director of Athletics Kevin Saal. “Thank you to Senior Associate AD of Facilities and Operations Brad Pittman and Athletes Unlimited for making this possible. This is another opportunity for our fans to showcase their support on a national stage, not only for Sydney, but for the sport of softball within the community of Wichita.”

“Bringing the premier women’s professional softball league to Wichita is an exciting win,” said Josh Howell, vice president of sports development at Visit Wichita. “We are very proud that Athletes Unlimited has selected our city as host to this prestigious event.”

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