Softball players will have their turn on the new synthetic turf this weekend.
The three-days of play open Thursday evening with the Sitka Lady Wolves taking on Kodiak at 5 PM. There will be a JV game after at 6:45 PM.
Play resumes Friday morning at 10:45 AM, when the same two teams meet again. There will be softball throughout the day today, until Sitka takes on Homer at 7:30 PM. Saturday morning, play will begin at 8:30 AM when Sitka’s JV team meets Thunder Mountain’s JV. Again, play will continue throughout the day until the varsity girls from those schools play under the lights at 8:15 PM.
The softball action this weekend on Sitka’s new $2.6-million dollar facility came after a long winter of some at-times acrimonious wrangling over how team practice times would be allocated at Moller Park.
The dispute pushed the school board into holding a hearing on the matter, where gender equality and other Title IX issues were at the forefront.
A recurring question during those discussions was whether the field could be easily reconfigured from baseball to softball.
Sitkans got their answer Wednesday afternoon, as municipal grounds crew, supported by two van loads of trooper cadets, removed the baseball pitcher’s mound.
Sitka High Activities director Mike Vieira helped organize the undertaking.
“It’s a three-piece mound, and the middle section is 18 feet long. It’s constructed of fiberglass and wood, and fairly flexible. And across 18 feet, that’s really flexible. I think in total, with all the fill and sand that goes in the turf, it weighs between 2,500 and 3,500 pounds with all three pieces combined.”
Sitka is not the only place that reconfigures a field for softball and baseball. Vieira contacted the manufacturer, who advertises the moveable mound, and got the name of the field manager at the University of Creighton (cray-ton), in Nebraska.
“He basically uses 20 Division I baseball players, and they pull it apart and pick it up and carry it off the field.”
The University of Creighton performs this maneuver twice a day, to allow the baseball field to be shared by intramural sports.
Sitka doesn’t have 20 Division I baseball players handy — that’s where the Public Safety Academy cadets rode in to the rescue.