Midd teams celebrate new diamonds

THE NEW PANTHER baseball diamond. Independent photo/Steve James

MIDDLEBURY —  Middlebury College on Sunday celebrated its newly renovated Baseball and Softball Complex with a ceremony that included donors, parents, both teams and college officials. The event capped a multi-year project to replace the natural fields with synthetic turf, create bigger covered dugouts with better seating for home and visiting teams, and many other improvements.

“This magnificent new facility represents an exceptional partnership between donors and the college,” said College President Laurie Patton. “We are grateful to the alumni and parents who contributed $2.8 million to help create one of the finest facilities in Division III, and to the many who have supported Middlebury baseball and softball over the years. Their dedication has given our student-athletes a facility that matches their tenacity and commitment to their sport.”

The project included adding the following upgraded items at each venue:

• Covered dugouts with seating and storage for home and visiting teams.

• Synthetic turf field surfaces.

• Batting cages and bullpens.

• ADA-compliant pedestrian walkways and grandstands.

• Enclosed press boxes.

• Public address and sound system.

• Stands behind home plates.

• Fencing and netting to protect stands and other amenities.

• Padded outfield fencing and backstops.

Director of Athletics Erin Quinn said the college’s Department of Athletics has worked over the past few years to enhance and upgrade athletics facilities for many teams and the broader Middlebury College community.

The projects would not be possible without the support of generous donors, Quinn added. Athletics opted for turf over more traditional grass and dirt fields to better weather the New England climate, he said.

“These new enhancements have already exemplified their worth, with our teams being able to practice outside as early as February and host early March games,” Quinn said. “We are excited to bring a better experience to our student-athletes, coaches, facilities staff and fans.”

Head softball coach Kelly Bevere said the new turf field has enabled the team to practice much earlier outside and to start practices earlier.

“We were outside practicing on the field on Feb. 8,” she said. “The ability to start practices right after classes and labs are over at 4:30 p.m. instead of waiting until after 6 p.m. to practice inside has given our student-athletes more time for studying and proper nutrition.”

Head baseball coach Mike Leonard said upgrading Forbes Field to turf also has changed the baseball experience for players and coaches. The team had their first practice on the field in mid-February. In previous years, the team was not on the field until early April. 

“The new facility has improved our ability to develop players, prepare our team for competitions, and has allowed us to play more home games,” Leonard said. “It has been nothing short of a game changer for our program.”

 As of early this week the teams were each 5-1 in home games on their new fields heading into games scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Editor’s note: This story was provided by Middlebury College Sports Information.

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