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Morning Sun
  • Softball complex in works behind PHS

  • If there’s one thing a new softball facility at Pittsburg High School would mean, it’s time. Namely, practice time.

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  • If there’s one thing a new softball facility at Pittsburg High School would mean, it’s time. Namely, practice time.
    “Once this is built, at 2:55 p.m., players will be able to go to the locker room, get in their gear and be ready by 3:15 p.m. to practice,” said Doug Hitchcock, Pittsburg High School athletics diretor. “Right now, they’re changing and getting to the equipment building, loading up the trailer, driving to the fields the city owns, unloading the trailer, setting up practice, and best case scenario, they’re starting at 3:45 p.m. Most of the time it’s 4 p.m. The freshmen who don’t or can’t drive have to be back around 5 p.m. for late buses. [The new softball facility] will save 30-45 minutes every day, and be able to give more opportunities to improve their skills in the game they love. That’s huge.”
    The new softball facility is already getting started to the south of Pittsburg High School. Crews from Radell Construction are donating roughly $15,000 in dirt work to get the project started, and a clearing has already been made.
    The project will consist of two major phases. The first will be to turn what was once empty land into a usable practice facility.
    “The field itself will be the first phase. We’ll put in the fence so we can have a practice facility. That’s our first objective,” said USD 250 Pittsburg Superintendent Destry Brown.
    That first phase was approved for the cost of no more than $71,909 by the USD 250 school board on Monday night, as well as various bids for the task. Brown said the goal is to have the facility ready for the start of spring sports practices, which Hitchcock said would begin in late February.
    “That’s our goal. It depends on how much we have to tear up the outfield. We want to do the least amount of excavation in the outfield as possible,” Brown said. “It depends on if we can get the grass to grow. If it’s a mild winter, that’d be great. If not, it may be April before we can get out there. It will definitely be sometime before the end of the spring.”
    The first phase will also include dugouts built under the supervision of the Fort Scott Community College Construction Trades program.
    “Masonry will build the dugouts, block by block. The carpentry program will do the roof structures,” Brown said.
    The second phase of the project would be to turn the practice field into a competition-worthy field. That would include installing lights, a press/announcers/scorekeeper’s box, concessions and restrooms, with the estimated price tag of about $150,000. Most of that (about $100,000) will be for the lighting itself.
    Page 2 of 2 - “That’s a big price. We have some opportunity to apply for money from local places. Hopefully, we’ll put that in next year,” Brown said, also noting the desire to seek further fundraising to help complete the project.
    Hitchcock said the move is significant and would help further establish Purple Dragon athletics.
    “There are still other schools our size using the city facilities,” Hitchcock said. “I’d say the majority of those don’t go to moving their equipment like we do. Most locate their equipment in a storage building on site. Some don’t have as much distance, either.”
    While Brown has one set of artist’s renderings, softball coach Mary Packard has now taken possession of the other set.
    “The coaching staff is very excited,” Hitchcock said. “There’ll be more time for the girls. We’ve had nice facilities, and we are very thankful for the city. They’ve been very cooperative. The new site will be an asset, bringing one more softball field to the city. We’re excited when we think about the softball facility.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.
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