Turf talk in the works

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Martin Schlegel

schlegelma@mnstate.edu

“Oh, how I love Minnesota/ When the snow’s up to your butt/ You take a breath of winter air/ And your nose gets frozen shut.”

This excerpt from a poem on minnesota-visitor.com was especially true this April. As a result of all the snow and absurdly cold temperatures, Minnesotans didn’t get the weather when they wanted it. Spring sports didn’t get what they wanted either.

The brutal month-long stretch of cold handed out postponements and cancellations the way Oprah would.

Track and field, baseball and softball were not immune. The weather threw a wrench in MSUM softball’s schedule. Twelve games were either postponed or canceled.

“It’s been tough,” senior catcher Megan Asham said. “We’ve learned how to go with adversity. The toughest part has probably been the school thing. ‘Hey, I won’t be here.’ Then, ‘Hey, we’ll be there but won’t be there to stay.”

To make up for all the missed conference games, the team is ending with a nine-day stretch in which the team is playing 14 games (seven doubleheaders).

On top of that, the team has played home games on Scheels Field, the home of the Dragons football team. Thursday’s doubleheader marked the only time this season the softball team will play on its grass field.

Earlier home games were moved to the Presentation Dome in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Between the dome, a three-hour drive and the football field, it appeared as if MSUM softball would go without a home game this season.

“We knew going into (the season) we are a softball team in northern Minnesota and the weather is never going to work in our favor,” head coach Kelsey Fehl said. “Just wanting the opportunity to play, whether it’s here, in a dome or on the football field, they just want to compete. We’ll play wherever.”

Asham reiterated that the team got used to the constant schedule changes this season.

“We’ve learned to travel well and play getting off the bus for three hours,” Asham said. “I think it would be nicer to have home games but you can’t control the weather here.”

While the weather is uncontrollable, what can be controlled is the field surface a team plays on. If Scheels Field proved anything this season, it’s that softball could benefit greatly from a turf field instead of grass.

Instead of constantly shipping the team down to Aberdeen multiple times a year or turning Scheels Field into a makeshift softball field, why not give the softball field an upgrade?

Fehl said budget constraints would be the foremost issue in pursuing a turf field for the team.

“We’ve talked about it. It’s kind of a financial situation,” Fehl said. “(Chad) Markuson, one of our athletic directors, has seen a few (turf softball fields), and he really likes them.”

Fehl also hinted that she has asked already for a field upgrade, but with talks being preliminary and the season coming to an end, it may take another year or two for the talks to get more serious.

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