Durham College’s new $2.2 million softball field is ready for the school’s women’s team to ‘play ball’ – there’s only one catch.
COVID-19 is preventing the team from getting on the field, pending approvals from public health officials.
The facility is 100 per cent artificial turf – no dirt, no grass and it’s virtually maintenance-free, said Ken Babcock, the school’s athletic director.
“It will be more than just a softball facility for our institutions,” added Babcock. “We can easily play Ultimate Frisbee on this facility.”
The new diamond is equipped with concussion padding, LED lighting, sheltered dugouts. A double bullpen for the home team and single for the visitors.
Two batting practice stalls for warming up, and a portable pitcher’s mound that can be brought out for younger teams.
There’s even a brand-new scoreboard out in left field.
Babcock said construction to finish the exterior of the facility – seating for 400 people, including 100 VIPs behind home plate, a press box and camera equipment -will begin next spring.
“There will be coaching video capabilities on the roof for practices and game film, as well as broadcast capabilities for all the home games,” he said, adding he’s hoping people will tune in just like they do for basketball, volleyball and soccer games on campus.
Babcock said the $2.2 million cost of the project is “on budget.”
“We’re hoping that it’s looked upon in the community as a starting point for some other facilities to be added,” said Babcock. “We’re excited about it; we think it’s going to be a drawing card. We think once you see it, a student-athlete, it’s going to confirm your decision to come here.”
Rosemary Theriault, assistant women’s softball coach for 18 years, said she’s “going to be very, very proud to walk on that field and say, hey, this is Durham College, and this is our home.”
Theriault, along with head coach Jim Nemish, oversees a powerhouse program, which has won four Ontario championships in the past five years and six in the past decade.
Theriault said she hopes Durham will be able to eventually invite former players back to see the new field.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the girls that left a lot of themselves on that old field. They’re able to come back and see what their legacy has brought forward,” she said.