Congratulations to this year’s NFCA and Stabilizer Solutions Field of the Year Award winners. The competition was fierce as the number of entries this year, was at an all time high. To learn more about the winning fields, please read more below.
Sherri Parker Lee Stadium
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Submitted by: Director of Operations, Stephanie Sayne
Ground’s Crew: Darryl Denny
The Combo is Key
With a 1622 fan capacity and boasting a state of the art press box, digital scoreboard with video playback, and incredible player’s amenities under the stadium complex, the Lady Vol’s no doubt play in one of the most advanced facilities in the nation. Field namesake Sherri Lee said, “I enjoy athletics a great deal, and feel that it is very important for women to have the best available opportunities and facilities in order to compete at the highest-level in athletics.” So what does one of the best teams in the country play on? A combination of products. Starting with a gravel leech bed for drainage, the infield mix is 40% clay, 49% sand, and 11% silt mix from a local Knoxville company. The field crew adds several amendments to the infield to keep it in shape year round, including Pro’s Choice Infield Conditioner as a topdressing and Stabilizer Infield Amendment on the infield’s high-wear areas for extra firmness and to prevent a quick dry-out. Artificial turf was installed in a horseshoe shape from dugout to dugout where the grass becomes very worn. The outfield consists of a well-draining sand base and is seeded twice a year with a Bermuda and a custom grass species. The warning track is a special blend of fine to course gravel colored to please the eye of this field’s many admirers.
Texas Women’s University, Denton, TX
Lone Star Conference
Submitted by: Supervisor of Landscape Services, Robert Trevino
Ground’s Crew: Ben Reeves, Marty Looper, Becky Chisenhall
Not their First Rodeo
Although Pioneer Field has only been around since 1996 when the University officially recognized Softball as a school sport, this field of the year honor is not its first. In 2002, it was recognized as the Softball Field of the Year for College / University by the Sports Turf Managers Association and it is easy to see why. Nestled in Texas’ rolling hills between the school’s golf course and soccer field, Landscape Services keeps this hidden gem sparkling. Always ready for the National stage, TWU’s Facilities Management & Construction Landscape Services work hard to ready the field for the Lady Pioneers, the NCAA Regional and National tournaments, and High School play-offs. Fully electric, the field is equipped with a press box, a 27-foot electric scoreboard, and lights for night play. In 2002, Pioneer Field received safety upgrades and a modernization of the outfield fence, back-stop, and press boxes. Concurrently, a new Crimson Infield Conditioner was applied to the infield surface and the same type of turf used at Ranger’s Ballpark in Arlington was installed for those galloping outfielders.
Blue and Grey Field
Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA
Submitted by: Head Coach, John Byrne
Ground’s Crew: Randy Haffling
Keep On Movin’, Don’t Stop
From Sandlot to practice football field, Moravian College’s Softball Field made a long journey to become The Blue and Grey Field. Now, it’s being recognized for the hard work and patience responsible for its 15-year transformation. The field really began to take shape in 2005 when the focus shifted from making sure the Turfgrass survived from Football through Softball season to adding all of the basic field elements every softball field deserves. Fencing, dugouts, a new backstop, bullpens, batting cages, bleachers and a new scoreboard bearing the field’s name all set the stage. In 2010, the grounds crew remedied many field maintenance issues switching to a new seed mixture and fungicide program for the turf. The following year the infield surface was overhauled, replacing the existing material with Hilltopper Infield Mix and Conditioner installed in time for the area’s wettest year on record. Looking ahead, a full surface renovation of the warning track surface and bullpens will be the Blue and Grey’s crowning moment.
Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, AL
Bobby McCracken Stadium
Submitted by: Head Softball Coach, Jayne Clem
Ground’s Crew: Jayne Clem, Jordan Carter, Pete Harris
In the Mouth of a Lion
With a unique field design and the South’s rich red clay, Bobby McCracken Stadium is well anchored in the spirit and tradition of its place. The red clay sits as a base layer for the infield fines. Stabilizer Infield Amendment was added to ensure its performance is as good as its looks helping with drainage and moisture control. Although the field is regulation, the red infield mix is contained within the abstract shape of a lion’s head, a nod to the school’s mascot. Program pride and tireless work is what has led the Lady Lions to the 2008 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Championship as well as multiple Division Championships since the program began in 1997. With so many honors this program lives up to the regal nature of its mascot.
Howell High School, Howell MI
Submitted by: Head Coach, Paul Bushong
Ground’s Crew: Paul Bushong
From Slag to Fab – Pool your resources
We all know how difficult it is to round up volunteers for field maintenance and improvement, but Head Coach and Groundskeeper Paul Bushong managed to orchestrate a 3-year field renovation based upon the kindness of others. Paul and crew remade an old slag, multi-use, limestone field into something the players and parents are proud. Along with volunteer labor, the monies for the renovation came from fundraising while the majority of the materials and equipment were donated. A local company gifted a storage building and the field sign was designed and created by a player and her Dad. Also a 40’ X 70’ all dirt hitting and bullpen area was constructed from excess material from another district field. For the infield, the top ½” of the existing red mix was scraped off the field and stored for reuse. It later became the base material for the new infield surface. The outfield sod was cleared away and the limestone turned concrete base was removed. New topsoil was brought in for the donated sod and that old ‘slag’ got a second chance as the new warning track mix.