Perrysburg High School baseball and softball players will no longer travel to the junior high school to practice and play games each spring now that high school has new ball diamonds.
The change takes the baseball team away from a location near I-75 that had caused problems in the past. The baseball field at the junior high school, unlike the softball field, backs right up to I-75. With home plate and the right-field line running parallel with I-75, baseballs easily found their way to the interstate.
"I think it will help a lot mainly because we won't be next to 75," said varsity baseball coach Dave Hall. "The kids will be able to hear instructions better since you don't have trucks, honking and traffic to contend with."
Mr. Hall is happy that traffic will no longer be in the background of his fielders' eyes as they try to find fly balls in the sky. Another big reason for location change, Mr. Hall said, was the fact six to seven foul balls a game would end up on I-75 and the dangers of that. Practices were also held on the same field next to I-75.
"It will save us money too, not losing so many balls," Mr. Hall said.
Practices are scheduled to begin Monday; if weather is foul, practice will be indoors.
With fields now at the at high school, coaches can bring practice inside if it rains. Previously, practice would be canceled if it rained.
Perrysburg Schools Treasurer Matt Feasel estimated the project cost at $922,000, including about $68,000 in architectural fees.
A portion of the total cost was funded by a permanent improvement levy approved by voters in November, 2010.
Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland, a Perrysburg native, donated $100,000 to the project. Another Perrysburg alumnus Burk Badenhop, a Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher. threw in $5,000.
"Leyland is always very nice and was generous with his donation," athletic director Ray Pohlman said. "We are very fortunate to have alumni we have here. It is nice for graduates to stay in touch and it is always nice to give back."
Players and coaches will save on travel time now that the new fields are in place. Previously, Mr. Pohlman said, there was a five-mile drive after school to the junior high school.
"Now they get to practice by going out the back door," Mr. Pohlman said. "We want the players to get maximum hitting time before games. They can also use the locker rooms that we have had for them here."
By 2016, Mr. Pohlman would like to have all of the sports to be at the high school, instead of having to commute players to the junior high school for tennis and football.
Along with new fields came the bells and whistles. There are new dugouts; a drainage system that is supposed to keep puddles off the field, and a new scoreboard along with a netting backstop.
"This has rejuvenated our staff," Mr. Hall said. "It is the first time in my career I will be on a field of this magnitude. The kids are all really excited."
Contact Matt Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-356-8786 or Twitter @Mthompson25.