Softball fans driving by Tech Softball Park in the coming weeks will notice some work being done on the playing surface in an effort to keep the facility as one of the finest in the region. The project, slated to begin by the end of July after summer camps are over, is expected to take 4-6 weeks to complete and be done by the time school starts. Here’s a run-down of what’s on tap for the project.
The outfield grass
The Kentucky Bluegrass playing surface in the outfield will be torn up and replaced by a Bermuda grass surface. The current Kentucky Bluegrass turf is susceptible to poa annua weeds, giving it the splotchy look that has plagued the outfield the past couple of years. Additionally, the soccer and football fields at Virginia Tech are Bermuda grass, so the grounds crew will have just one type of surface to work with. With Bermuda going dormant in the winter, the crew plans on overseeding the field to make sure it’s ready to go when the Hokies take the field in Februaries.
The outfield fence will be torn down and replaced with padded fencing, much like at major league ballparks. It will still be 6-feet-high and will have graphics on it. Those graphics will be designed in the coming weeks to give the school a chance to highlight key moments in the program’s history. Additionally, the walls down the foul lines will also be padded and a higher fence will be erected in front of the dugouts to provide better protection to the players on foul balls.
New foul poles
With the new fence comes a need for new foul poles as the current ones have been in place since the field was built in the late 1990s. The new poles will be much taller to give umpires a better view of home runs down the lines and will be all metal, also like major league poles. The exact height is to be determined, but they will be 10-20 feet taller than the current ones.
To correct a drainage issue, both bullpens will be torn up. Crews will then fix the gradient on both the outfield and the bullpens before putting down the new grass in the outfield and an artificial surface in the bullpens.
“Keeping a facility up to date and in great shape is a commitment that I appreciate the administration making,” said head coach Scot Thomas. “The upgrades this summer are going to make a huge difference for players, fans and recruits.”
This is the latest in a long line of projects at TSP. A new video and scoreboard were installed before the 2012 season, the bleachers have been expanded down the lines to make the capacity 1,024 and a new drainage system was put in a few year ago, among others.
Tech will begin preparation for the 2014 season in September when classes begin and will play two fall exhibition tournaments at to be announced dates and locations. The 2014 schedule should be released later this month.
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