For the 2021 spring season, the Springfield softball team will be playing their home games on artificial turf rather than traditional dirt and grass. Artificial turf installation has been a trend throughout collegiate athletics, especially in the northeast.
“When we practice now, when we start (in the fall), we can be on our field,” said Springfield softball head coach Kate Bowen. “Before, we were on the soccer field, and you look over at baseball being on their field, and we’re like, ‘it’s just such a great advantage.’”
Anyone who has been involved with baseball or softball in the northeast knows the headache that comes with playing in March and April. It is not only the miserable weather, but also the difficult management of the field, as they dry very slowly during these months. With artificial turf being installed at Potter Field, the Springfield softball team will not have to worry about that any longer.
“Let’s say it was raining a little bit in the morning, and we were going to play at Emerson, I knew we were getting the games in,” said Coach Bowen. “Whereas, sometimes the night before the game, I’m like, ‘it says it’s going to start raining at 9, it’s going to be heavy rain, maybe thunderstorms.’” Then, she explained the players’ role in maintaining the field. “We would have to think, ‘are we putting the tarp on at 6 AM? How many girls can we get at 6 AM, or maybe 7?’ So, a lot goes into those decisions, whereas now, we never have to think about tarping the field.”
It should be a relief for the players that they will not have to also be a member of the grounds crew anymore.
Being on the field early will not only be beneficial for convenience, but also an advantage over the competition.
“We should know everything about our field, how it hops, the fencing, passed balls, how a ball can ricochet,” explained Coach Bowen. “So I think it’s really just going to give us this great advantage being on the field so early.”
Getting on the field in February can also translate to success in March for Springfield. Now, they will be able to start their regular season quicker, and likely on their home field, which Coach Bowen plans to take full advantage of.
“I’m hoping, just like baseball, we can play games before leaving for Florida,” said Bowen. “I know we’re in this interesting era, but our first game scheduled is March 6th, I believe. And we’ve never played, really, before leaving for Florida. So I’m trying to make that kind of follow what baseball has done, and play earlier so our first games aren’t actually in Florida; they’re on our field.”
The turf will not only change when the Pride play, but also possibly how they will play. The installation of the turf will bring a more rapid style of play for Springfield and their opponents.
“I definitely think one of the biggest changes will be that it’s faster,” Coach Bowen said. “So I think that is going to be an adjustment, but I think that is really only going to take a couple weeks for us to make that adjustment.”
It is a historic mark in the softball program’s history. The installation of artificial turf at Potter Field will give them, perhaps, an extra month of preparation on their field every year. It also removes the hassle of tarping a field, postponing games due to snow, or rain that didn’t happen that day. It is safe to say that the excitement within the Springfield softball community is not just limited to Coach Bowen.
Photo: Danielle Schmeling/The Student