NFCA and Stabilizer Solutions Softball Field of the Year Winners

Posted 3 years ago


After so many quality applications popped into our inbox, the wait is finally over…

Stabilizer Solutions, Inc and the National Fastpitch Coaches Association are pleased to announce the 2010 Field of the Year award winners.
Congratulations to these schools for their outstanding fields!

Division I:
University of Alabama, John & Ann Rhoads Softball Complex, Tuscaloosa, AL
Groundskeeper: Chris Hildreth & Crew
Submitted by: Associate Head Softball Coach Alyson Habetz

Hi-tech Southern Hospitality
The Southern US is known for it’s hospitality, but Alabama softball takes it to a new level. Built in 2000, two climate controlled private suites flank the press box, which includes four media rooms. Home plate is mic’d to feed sound back to the rooms in case you’re afraid you’ll miss the ‘crack’ of the bat. Hi-tech features extend below ground with a state of the art drainage system making standing water disappear. Field maintenance director, Chris Hildreth follows a strict yearly schedule of soil testing, fertilizing, topdressing, and weatherizing his field to keep the grass healthy and infield surface smooth and loose for easy fielding and sliding.

For Alabama a season ticket waiting list is proof of the fans’ devotion to the Crimson Tide and record attendance prompted the addition of a new seating section called ‘the brickyard.’ Construction has already begun on an expanded clubhouse boasting a new locker room, training room, player’s lounge, video room, and lobby, all connected to the new indoor practice facility.

Division II:
Columbus State University, Cougar Field, Columbus, GA
Head Coach: Brad Huskisson


A Division II Olympic Destination
Columbus State’s clay infield and meticulously manicured Bermuda grass makes Cougar Field true to the last hop. The warning track is 10’ wide and topped with a crushed stone material. Just beyond the warning track and outfield wall is a pitching, batting, and practice area that seems to have attracted many teams for its functionality. It’s reputation as one of the Southeast’s premier playing surfaces has attracted the USA Olympic Softball team for 15 years running as well as several top Division I teams for practice stops en route to their destination. Sure, Cougar Field has all the features of other top fields, but the lure of this field is its function and playability.

Division III:
Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Groundskeepers: John Ponti & Bobby Allen
Submitted by: Assistant Coach Lacy Gillotti

Sustainability – Softball Style
How many Softball Fields do you know that are nestled next to a natural wetland? Head Groundskeeper John Ponti aligns his practices with Mother Nature focusing on IPM (Integrated Pest Management), sustainability, and plant healthcare. To minimize waste and increase efficiency he tests and analyzes the soil for nutrient deficiencies, delivering organic fertilizers and nutrients through a calibrated sprayer on an as needed basis. Twice yearly core aeration allows more air, water, and sunlight to the plants, promoting deep rooting and good drainage of the soils. The field was constructed with sub-surface drainage and an irrigation system over a 70-20-10 sand base root-zone mix. Beam Clay was installed in the infield over a sand subsurface and the red crushed-stone warning track material is the same stone you’ll see at Fenway park.

All of Ponti’s behind the scenes work brought the field into the literal spotlight when it was chosen as a shooting location for The Women’s Sports Foundation HBO special, “Sounds of the Game.” Wellesley was also chosen as a 2010 NCAA Division III regional tournament site.

Community College:
Bakersfield College, The Dean & Adah Gay Sports Complex, Bakersfield, CA
Groundskeeper: Patrick Cornejo
Submitted by: Head Softball Coach/Associate Athletic Director Sandi Taylor

Renegade Renovation gives Bakersfield a ‘Major League’ feel
The new Renegade Softball facility opened in February of 2010 and is all about presence. The Dean & Adah Gay Sports Complex features both softball and baseball fields, a clubhouse, ticket booths, and a beautiful entrance to each park. The softball field features a hitting tunnel in left center field with additional green space for warm-up and hitting stations. Double bullpens flank the field and construction is underway to add a practice infield just outside of right field. The grass is manicured, the infield is a solid playing surface that maintains a steady play, and it’s beautiful to boot.

High School:
Alexander Central High School, Central Park, Taylorsville, NC
Groundskeeper: Monte Sherrill, Kendal Sipe, Burpee Wike
Submitted by: Head Coach Monte Sherrill

‘Central Park,’ The Gem of North Carolina
What does Alexander Central High School’s ‘Central Park’ have in common with America’s Greenspace in New York City? Revival. After winning the 2002 NFCA Regional Field of the Year the ‘Central Park’ Softball Field fell into a state of disarray, hitting rock bottom in 2007. Just as a group of caring individuals lifted New York’s Central Park out of decay in the late eighties, softball enthusiasts helped North Carolina’s Central Park field steadily climb its way back to the top. Highlights include a new irrigation system, scoreboard, personal lockers for each player, video deck, lush landscaping and new T-10 Bermuda sod for the outfield. All of these upgrades only serve to highlight the finely crushed red infield and warning track mix. High School, Middle School and travel teams enjoy the spirit of this modern revival.

Thank you to all those who submitted applications this year. We invite you to apply again next year and to spread the word. Show us your best, get your field ready for 2011!

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