Charles Barkley puts his softball skills to the test

Charles Barkley and Michele Smith have known each other since they both competed in the 1996 Olympics. With Barkley in OKC for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and Smith here as an ESPN analyst for the Women's College World Series, they decided to get together for a little showdown.

by Jenni Carlson Published: June 6, 2012

Charles Barkley strode into Edmond Memorial High's indoor batting cages and out of the morning rain.

He eyed longtime friend and former world-class softball pitcher Michele Smith.

"You prayed for rain, didn't you?" he said.

Barely inside the door, the TNT analyst was already talking trash.

Smith laughed.

It was the first of many chuckles for the pair Wednesday morning. They have known each other since both competed in the 1996 Olympics, and since Barkley is in town for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and Smith is here as an ESPN analyst for the Women's College World Series, they decided to get together for a little showdown.

Smith would pitch, and Barkley would hit.

Presumably.

Smith is retired from softball, and before Wednesday, she had only thrown a couple times this year. Her athletic endeavors now involve triathlons, not strikeouts.

As for Barkley, he'd never faced any pitcher who throws as hard or with as much movement as Smith.

That didn't stop him from plenty of hyperbole.

When he met Smith's catcher, Karen Johns, he said, "You can take the day off. Won't be much getting by."

And to the ESPN and TNT cameramen standing around, he issued a warning.

"Lemme tell you all something -- you better be careful," he said. "It's going to be rocketing off of here."

Barkley stood near the plate and took a look at a few pitches, then he stepped up to the plate.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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