After spending over a decade playing across the street at Lakebottom, CHS Softball is finally coming home. The school has gone under several renovations in the past year, including the makeover of Randy Jordan Field, home of Blue Devils Baseball. These renovations to the field included a brand new concession stand and locker room, an updated locker for the varsity baseball team, and a brand new turf surface that allows the field to be used for both baseball and softball.
The softball team will not play with the same dimensions as the baseball team, so there will be no softball players having to crush a ball over the towering left field wall to hit a home run. Instead, there is a portable fence that is located about 200 feet from home plate. Along with the closer fence, the length of the base paths have been reduced.
The change in the playing surface is among the more unique and exciting changes to the facility. Randy Jordan Field is one of the first schools in the region to adopt an artificial playing surface. This gives the softball team home field advantage against their opponents. When asked about how the change in playing surface affects the team’s success, Coach Wilson replied, “No other team in our region has a turf field, so we are hoping that they struggle, and we use their struggle to our advantage,”.
The new playing surface also brings with it some changes to the game itself. A major change has been the way the ball moves on the ground. The turf surface causes the ball to bounce much higher than it would on a natural surface. As Coach Wilson puts it, “You get a true hop when the ball is on the ground which is great but we are having an issue with the ball bouncing over the fence, which makes it a ground rule double”. The true hops serve as an advantage to the team, as it allows them to more easily field ground balls on defense. With this bouncier surface, though, the team has also seen an increase in ground rule doubles, which hurts their offense.
As far as accessories and equipment, the turf field does not require much change. The softball team began wearing turf shoes on this new field in order to preserve the surface, however, opposing teams can still wear their cleats when they visit Randy Jordan Field.
The softball team will be sharing the facility with the school’s baseball team, using the same field, dugouts, locker rooms, and batting cages. Coach Wilson isn't worried though.
“There should not be any conflict with the two teams. Coach Mathis and I work close together to make sure both teams have what they need to be successful”.
This new field is the start of a bright future for Columbus High Softball. Finally getting a place to play on the school’s campus should be a huge confidence boost for the team. Coach Wilson summarizes it perfectly, “ We feel like we are home for the first time ever,”.
The team’s next home game will be played on September 10, when the Lady Blue Devils host the Shaw Raiders.