By Rick Palsgrove
The backstops and dugouts are in place, but the new softball fields at Groveport Madison High School are unfinished and have been a sea of mud without turf and therefore not ready for play.
“The weather has been the primary factor,” Groveport Madison Deputy Superintendent Jamie Grube said. “We have had more than 41 days of weather delays with rain and snow, which has made efforts to do site prep work difficult.”
Grube said crews have been making ongoing efforts to dry out the fields.
“The site work contractor scraped additional soil to build a larger stone base to install drainage and the foundation for the field,” said Grube. “Unfortunately, the precipitation makes a muddy slurry which is impractical for site prep work.”
When asked when the two new softball fields at the high school would be ready for use, Grube said, “That seems to be the big question. Our original goal was the end of February to early March. At this point, our best chance for the turf completion is an April 5 completion for the varsity field and a May 3 completion for the junior varsity field. The outfields are also weather dependent for site work on the field and the ability to harvest and install sod.”
Grube said artificial turf will be installed on the infields on both the varsity and junior varsity fields.
“The outfields are either going to be sod or seeded depending on timing,” said Grube. “The goal for sod would allow us to play some varsity games on the new field this year. If that becomes unlikely, we will revert to seed. We continue to monitor the sod and seed options weekly.”
Grube said that, according to the contractor from the Motz Group, it is the norm at high schools and most colleges to have artificial turf in the infield and a natural grass outfield.
“The infield sees the most intense use and corresponding wear and tear,” said Grube. “There is also the cost factor involved in these decisions. For example, a full baseball field is larger (and more expensive) than a football or soccer field. A typical softball field is slightly smaller than a football field.”
The new varsity field is closest to the school. The new junior varsity field is the one where the outfield fence is closest to State Route 317 (Hamilton Road).
Grube said there is a proposed plan to add netting to the outfield fence on the junior varsity field to prevent balls from reaching State Route 317 because of the field’s proximity to the highway.
“It is currently being reviewed by AEP for clearance and easement requirements,” said Grube.
Until the new softball fields are ready for use, the Cruiser varsity and junior varsity softball teams will play on the fields at Groveport Elementary. This is the same location the teams have played at for the past two years and where the varsity has won two straight Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division championships.