Eastern’s Softball Field Points to Larger Issues: Considering what the lack of a softball field meant for the larger community

      If you have spent any time on campus this year, it would be impossible for you not to notice the large mounds of dirt and construction equipment where our softball field used to live. Due to heavy flooding that affected much of the infrastructure of campus early last fall, the softball field had to be completely rebuilt. The entire top layer of soil was stripped and the sand was all but gone. This semester, construction has been hard at work repairing, and in many cases, improving the facilities. The case of the softball field reveals some blind spots in our University’s modes of operation, and should give cause for more proactive approaches in the future.

      While this has remained an eyesore for most of us, it has had a serious impact on our softball team and its players. Leslie Lutin, a sophomore who plays for the team, shed some light on her experience

      “So we have been rotating between gym practices as well as turf practices. For hitting only practices, we use the batting cage in the fitness center. I know for some of us, not having a field definitely makes it harder on us both as a team and as students. We are constantly changing the surface that we see the ball coming from so it’s not always easy to read how the ball bounces. Also, because we don’t have a field, our schedule is always changing, at least it did the first 2 months of the season.” Lutin said. The constant changes have a noticeable effect on a an athlete’s training. Anyone who has ever trained for anything knows that inconsistency and unpredictability are not a recipe for success. Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there.

      “Some of us are finding it harder to do certain things to keep our academics on top. For example, one of my teammates needs to attend office hours, but her only hours are during our practices. It’s just hard not always knowing where our next practice is going to be, where it will be happening or even if we will have practice because of poor scheduling and weather,” Lutin said. Student athletes, while sometimes carrying the stereotype of not caring about their academics as much as non-athletes, actually manage a lot more than we give them credit for. Between team study sessions and stricter attendance policies, a lot rests on their shoulders. Not having a field to practice on makes striking that balance all the more difficult.

      Now though, it looks like the repairs have made major progress. In addition to repairing the field, the new home plate is closer to the lower McInnis parking lot, and the fencing behind it will be a substantial upgrade over the previous one. Hopefully, the new orientation of the field will protect it from any future flooding. As I stated previously, this case should motivate better planning for future infrastructure. The terrain the campus sits on is not ideal, being mostly wetlands, but oversights akin to Eagle’s sinking problem or the location of our sports facilities relative to a floodplain, should be better thought out ahead of time. Let’s hope we’re not constantly rebuilding important parts of campus in the years to come.

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