Athletic Director Hal Shuler shared a PowerPoint presentation with assembled parents, detailing the upgrades that will be made to resolve a Title IX investigation.
The existing softball field has one set of bleachers and no warning track for the girls to recognize how close they are to the fence, as well as no lights. Richmond is the only school in the Southeastern Conference without lights on its softball field.
Plans to revamp the softball facility will address these issues and others.
The existing bleachers sit on the ground, not secured in any way. The new bleachers will consist of five rows of seating, will be 33 feet long, and mounted on a concrete slab for safety.
The backstop section of the fence will be improved to a 40 foot-tall section, featuring a 20-foot wing section with a tapered top designed to keep balls from leaving the facility.
The outfield fences on the field will also be upgraded. The sideline fence will be a six-foot-tall vinyl 9-gauge fence. The outfield fence will built with the same materials.
The dugouts will be upgraded as well. They will have brick walls and be constructed on a concrete slab, with a standing seam metal roof.
Shuler said a timeline has been set forth for all of the upgrades, with the first phase scheduled to begin in February 2011.
In 2011, the construction will consist of the following:
n New sideline fence, backstop, and movable outfield fence;
n Concrete pads for bleachers, with sidewalk;
n Three sets of bleachers;
n Infield reconstruction, outfield warning track;
n New dugouts with metal roof;
n Regrade/seed field;
n Reverse irrigation system;
n Upgrade batting cases.
Phase two of the plan will start in February 2012 and include lights and poles.
Ricky Kirkland, who coaches a Richmond County girls travel softball team and has a daughter in the Richmond Senior softball program, was pleased with the upgrades.
“The timeline looks good that they laid out, and the plans look good for the future,” Kirkland said.
Jerry Snead, a softball parent who filed the complaint that led to the Title IX investigation, likes what he sees so far, with a few caveats. One of his concerns revolves around the plans for the outfield fence.
“I don’t agree with the removable fence,” Snead said. “They don’t take any other fence down at the school. Why take this one down? Over the years removing the fence would make it unstable, and the girls deserve a permanent field just like the boys do.”
Snead added that he was impressed with the response that the school system has given to the problem, and is excited about the upcoming improvements to the field.
As far as the outfield fence, Shuler said, “We have been assured that the movable fence will look permanent and professional. There will be sleeves in the ground for its stability and the look of the fence. The sleeves will then be capped off during the fall seasons.”
Contact sports reporter Travis Anderson at 997-3111 ext. 44 or via e-mail at email@example.com