JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley baseball and softball have gone artificial — with very real results.
The Raider baseball and softball teams are playing on home diamonds this spring that are 100 percent FieldTurf.
Seneca Valley’s soccer/lacrosse field was also redone with FieldTurf as part of a $2.5 million project approved by the Seneca Valley School Board last fall.
“These facilities offer a wonderful opportunity for our athletes,” Seneca Valley athletic director Heather Lewis said. “Not only will these fields be excellent to play on, they will satisfy demand as well.”
Lewis said that 400 kids — between middle school and high school — are involved in the track and field program, which uses NexTier Stadium. The Raiders’ girls lacrosse team used to practice and play home games there after track practice.
“Now all of our teams can practice at reasonable times and we don’t have to usher all of those track kids out of the stadium by 5 o’clock,” Lewis said.
“The lacrosse team has its own field now. This benefits everybody.”
Seneca Valley has already received numerous requests from various teams and leagues to use its new baseball and softball fields during the summer.
“There’s plenty of interest. I’m sure we’ll be renting them out,” Lewis said.
In the meantime, SV’s ballplayers are enjoying an early spring outside.
“Last year, we were outside for one day before we played our first game,” softball coach George Trew said. “We got outside on this field six days last week alone.
“Holding tryouts out on the field, kids have a much fairer opportunity to show what they can do.”
Baseball coach Eric Semega said it’s been eight years since his team had held tryouts outside.
“You can just get so much more done on the field than you can inside of a gym,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve missed on a kid during tryouts in the past, but now we can get a much more accurate feel for how a kid can play and what his strengths are.”
While a recent run of good weather enabled a lot of high school teams to get outside, Semega believes the consistent practice time outdoors will ultimately help his team.
“It rained (recently), but we’ll be out there after school practicing,” the coach said. “That would never have happened in the past.
“I talked to the company (Vasco Sports Contractors out of Massillon, Ohio) that put these fields in. They tell me they can handle up to two inches of rain an hour.
“I asked, ‘What if it starts raining at midnight and rains steadily until 3 p.m. the next day?’ Their reply was, ‘15 minutes and you can play,’” Semega added.
Since all three fields are completely turf, no pre-game preparations are required.
“That will save so much time,” Semega enthused. “We can report to practice, get right out there and do what he have to do.”
The consistent preseason practice time may give SV’s team an edge over the competition as well.
“I sure hope so. That’s the idea,” Trew said. “We’re already way ahead of where we’ve been at this time in past years.”
Lewis said NexTier Stadium’s artificial turf may be redone this summer for football as well.