Northwest’s new softball field opened with a tribute to softball alumni and a softball jamboree on Aug. 24.
To kick things off, about 25 Lions from the past took the field for pictures with current team members and to celebrate the new softball facility.
“It’s amazing, the difference from what we had to this,” said P.J. (Black) Klein, remembering the lack of a suitable facility for softball in her high school years. She said the gathering of alumni meant a lot to her because, “I had a great high school softball career in the ’80s,” when the team went to state three out of four years and were state champions in 1986.
Her teammate Kristi Lee, a 1988 graduate, said she was impressed by the new field and she was happy for the school.
“This is a great thing for the community,” Lee said.
Both the baseball field and the softball facilities are complete except for a few minor items and include new fields, fencing, scoreboards, backstops and dugouts. The baseball field area also includes a batting cage, said Geoff Macy, the district’s chief operating officer.
In addition, the softball facility has a newly paved road, handicapped-accessible parking area, restroom and storage facility and a practice field, Macy said.
Northwest R-1 Superintendent Desi Kirchhofer said the students and the community deserved a nice facility.
“There’s a pride factor that comes in,” he said. “These girls are really good competitors. They could play anywhere, but they deserve this.”
He said having nice sports facilities encourages involvement.
“We want to do anything we can do to increase participation because we know that students do better academically in a lot of ways when they are involved in sports or other activities at school,” he said.
Improvements to the softball and baseball facilities are part of the $14.5 million Proposition S bond issue approved by voters in spring 2018. The cost of improvements to both fields was estimated at $1.2 million and has come in at $1,213,200.
Byrne and Jones Construction Co. of Bridgeton was the contractor. Workers added irrigation and fencing, along with building the four masonry dugouts and batting cages.
Brockmiller Construction of Farmington paved the road, added parking and built the restroom and storage building.
Macy said the facility was completed in time for the softball season.
“This is the first event here, and the coaches are super-excited to showcase the facility,” Macy said.
The softball jamboree was a modified game that allowed players from three teams, Northwest, Fox and Webster Groves, to get some practice in against other players. The first official game of the season was Tuesday at Jefferson, after the Leader deadline. The Lions’ first home game is against Pacific today (Thursday) at 4:15 p.m.
Macy said the new facility was an important step in giving softball teams the regulation field they needed.
“This is a great opportunity for them to appreciate their own space. We made everything here geared toward softball,” he said.
In the past, baseball teams and softball teams shared the fields and temporary fences were brought in to adopt the field for softball.
In addition to the opening celebration, the Northwest Boosters served a barbecue lunch.
Macy said there was a good turnout for the game.
“It’s nice to see all the people out here,” he said.
He said the community should be thanked for supporting the project.
Charlie Sisco of Byrnes Mill, whose daughter plays for Northwest, said he was impressed with the facility.
“It’s very nice, all brand-new, top-notch,” he said.