Anyone who has been around high school and youth sports for a long time knows that events during the spring frequently are called off due to the weather.
It’s the season of thunderstorms, hail and sometimes worse weather. It takes only one well-placed cloudburst to sometimes render a field unplayable.
In this regard, some facilities have an advantage over others.
What is this advantage?
If you were thinking turf, that’s not the exact answer I’m looking for.
The answer is drainage.
A field set up to drain properly will be playable quicker. Sure, soil conditioning goes a long way as well as does available labor. Turf fields obviously are set up to drain quicker and require less of that labor.
It doesn’t matter if you laser-level all of the fields. If the drainage system is inadequate, you’re not going to be able to play.
Almost any field can be made playable though. Good drainage as well as available labor will keep the games going. That’s not the case for all fields though.
Drainage might be a big reason the East Central College softball Falcons took an unintentional 16-day vacation from playing games. The East Central fields are notorious for holding water. While the baseball field was still being used for baseball (it since has been converted into a soccer practice field), a heavy dew seemed to make it unplayable. That was one of the big reasons Union High School pursued building Wildcat Ballpark. Ironically, that is in a bowl which was a water retention area for the school complex at one time. While the turf infield is a big help, the key reason games have been playing there is that outstanding drainage was set up when it was built.
Another field built in a bowl which seems to be able to host games is Borgia’s baseball/softball complex.
That’s another field in a bowl. There’s no problem with the infield, other than the fact mud sometimes flowed onto the field from the hill on the third base side before another retaining wall was put up. The normal reason games are postponed there is because water has been slow to drain from the outfield. It’s rare that happens despite the field being in a bowl.
Still, Borgia has played 14 games as of Tuesday morning, double that of their Monday opponent Pacific.
Turf has been a tonic for many of the rainouts. Borgia and Union played baseball games when other schools were practicing in their gyms and batting cages.
At other places, it’s been a matter of how much water needs to be moved and how much labor has to be done.
Nearly all area teams play girls soccer on turf and run track at all-weather facilities. The weather has been little more than a nuisance for those teams.
Only Pacific and Crosspoint play on grass fields. Crosspoint plays most of its home games at Washington’s Lakeview Park as a client of the city.
That brings us to Rotary Recreational Complex - Ronsick Field. During the summer, there has to be a thunderstorm parked over the field or a lengthy period of rain to render it unplayable. But, during the spring, it’s frequent for games to be rained out.
Why is that the case?
During the summer, Washington Post 218 volunteers do a splendid job of making sure the games can be played, from pre-rain conditioning of the turf to being able to employ pumps and blowers for most spots and rakes and buckets on the dirt areas. That same level of labor is not available during the spring and that’s one of the reasons Borgia decided to upgrade it’s on-campus facility to host all of its games.
A lack of prep work led to the departure of one client and I know people within the Washington High School family would love to have their own on-campus turf complex. That would lead to the departure of another major client from city facilities.
I’ve seen a proposal to upgrade Ronsick Field. It would include putting down turf. That would solve a lot of problems, if it can be worked out financially between groups.
A turf field, with the proper drainage, would drastically cut down the amount of labor needed to prepare the fields. There wouldn’t need to be as much line put down, there would be less irrigation and care of grass areas (it would be assumed the outfield would be retained as-is). The dirt areas wouldn’t need to be dragged as the dirt would be brown turf.
Hopefully at the same time, the dimensions could be adjusted with deeper, taller outfield fences (moved back to the old Circle Drive or maybe the plate moved closer to the backstop).
The upgraded Ronsick Field would bring in more money because more games could be played there. It could give the city an edge in bringing in more events. If more games are played here, that’s going to mean a increase in revenue for local merchants and restaurants as well. That would mean a win-win for Washington. Hopefully, a way can be figured out to make it happen.