Sportsplex fields undergo facelift to host baseball tourneys

Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hours before most of Troy awakens out of their slumber, the staff of the Troy Parks and Recreation grounds crew has been hard at work.

The staff, led by Coordinator of Youth Sports David Dickey, is in the middle of one of the busiest sections of the summer tournament season. Just a few days ago, Dickey and his staff played host to a Dixie Softball Sub-District tournament and now have to configure each field at the Troy Sportsplex for baseball.

Over the next few days, the Troy Recreation staff will build pitching mounds, move bases and remove grass from the outfield to meet the specifications of Dixie Baseball officials.

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“The Dixie Boys bases are 80 feet, so we have had to dig new holes and get anchors in place,” Dickey said. “We have also had to cut out about 10 feet of grass of the outfield to give the proper size of the baseball infields. We wanted to maintain the overall look of our park, but we had to make some changes in order to host a tournament of this size.”

The biggest undertaking for Dickey and the staff is to build pitching mounds. The tedious process takes a two-man crew roughly four hours to build and landscape each mound.

“Bart (Pettus, TPRD Adult Activities Coordinator) built a template, and each mound it built off that structure,” Dickey said. “Most of the time consuming work is setting the template right and then hauling the dirt to and from the field. We don’t want to dump the dirt next to the field, so we have to haul it in. Then the dirt is packed down, dressed and soaked. We use mound clay for the areas where the pitcher will be standing, and that is mixed in. After a while, it gets packed and redressed and soaked again. The pitching rubber is put in and set, and the mound gets packed again. Once it is all settled together, we rake it together so that the mound blends with the rest of the field.”

Once the mounds are taken care, the staff has to take down the temporary fences put in place for softball. The softball games are played on fields with fences 200 feet from home, while the baseball games will be played on fields with distances of 285-300 feet.

And after all of staff’s hard work, Dickey said it would be time to start over next week.

“The guys to a lot of work making it look good, but we will have to tear it all up and rebuild it for the AAA State Tournament the week after,” Dickey said. “You build something you are proud of, only to do it all over again 10 days later.”