This spring season, the baseball and softball teams have been playing on a new field. The biggest difference about this new field, according to Athletic Director Torrey Rodkey, is that the field is now made of turf rather than real grass. 

The original field was 15 years old and had some problems with drainage, causing games to be postponed. Moving to a turf field was the best option, based on cost. In addition, many colleges as well as other high schools are turning toward turf over grass, explained Rodkey.

One major benefit of a turf field is a greatly reduced cost of maintenance compared to a grass field. The school no longer has to pay to have the field mowed or maintained. “There's very little maintenance whatsoever, whereas a natural grass dirt field is a ton of maintenance,” said Rodkey. “Economically, it just made sense to go ahead and do it and I'm glad we did it.” 

Additionally, the teams playing on the turf field do not have to worry about how the weather will affect the game schedule, so long as any rain stops before the actual game begins. This is because the turf field does not get muddy and sodden like a grass field. 

The field is used by both the varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball teams, but Rodkey explained that the varsity teams get priority access to the field. “Fortunately, everybody gets to use it,” he said. “But obviously, the first priority is the varsity.” 

No matter who is playing on the field, however, Rodkey said that there had been a noticeable improvement in the performance of the teams. This is due to the fact that the teams no longer have to do maintenance in the field, which would encroach in their practice times. In the past, the players were responsible for raking, picking up rocks and edging, spending an extra hour or two doing work on the field. “It's huge for our players because they can just worry about playing baseball or playing softball,” said Rodkey. 

In addition to creating a better playing environment, the new fields also look very nice. “We've had a ton of positive feedback from our players, tons of positive feedback from their parents and just people that come out and want to see the fields; just a lot of compliments about how nice they look,” said Rodkey. “Also, a lot of compliments from opposing schools. The Whiteland athletic director talked to me after we hosted baseball and softball with them and he said, ‘Hey, because I've heard nothing but great things, I want to see it.’ I think other schools appreciate it. Even though it’s not a new complex, it looks like a brand new complex because of the new turf, the new fencing and the new perimeter concrete. I think turf is the way of the future.”

Story by Lucy Foxworthy