By Ty Schadt, Sports Editor and Will Menser, Contributing Writer
Asbury’s baseball and softball teams respectively batted productive averages of .279 and .247 last year. However, thanks to the new hitting facility being built, these numbers have a great chance to rise next spring.
Coming in as a part of the Kirkland Complex, the $200,000 facility was made possible due to fundraising efforts and generous donations from friends of the programs. It will be lined with turf and house two batting cages that can be taken down to make room for other activities, such as pitching and fielding ground balls. The facility is 45 feet wide and 100 feet long, and hopes to be completed by November, according to Athletic Director Mark Perdue. Perdue described the hitting facility as “something we needed.”
This statement is quite accurate. Previously, the baseball and softball games had been taking hitting reps in the Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) of the Luce, an area that is bulging at the seams with activity. Cheerleaders, tumblers and even some classes frequently utilize the MPR’s space, forcing teams to compete for practice times.
Baseball coach Manny Cervantes expressed excitement over the change. “It’s not only great for us, it’s great for the Luce,” he said. “It will give this place more breathing room.” Instead of being cramped for space and fighting for time, the softball and baseball teams will now be peacefully out on their own.
Cervantes also believes the resource will be a recruiting tool. “We’re in constant competition regarding facilities with other schools, and this is something that could set us apart.” It will also add more structure to practices. Instead of sending players all the way from the baseball field to the Luce to go through a session in the batting cage, they can simply walk through the outfield gate and be there. In essence, it will improve the quality of practice.
Asbury’s softball team enters this season with a lot of fresh things, one being a new coach. After a 22-year stretch at the University of the Cumberlands, Angie Dean will now don the Eagles’ purple and white. She expressed her anticipation for the upcoming season: “Very excited, very honored to be here. These girls are working hard, they are hungry to win, they’re hungry to be coached, so it has just been a pleasure so far.”
Like Cervantes, Dean is eager for the new facility and the opportunities it will give her team. “We can spread out a little bit more…. You can do some fielding while you’re hitting. If you have turf it’s a lot different than the hard floor,” she said.
With new tools, these teams will finally have a place tailored specially to them so they can
better hone their skills and prepare for the season ahead. Senior softball player Alyssa Gaines is under the same impression: “With this new facility, we are given the opportunity to improve our skills every single day and be able to utilize the abilities God has given us to play the game we love.”
Photo by Jana Wiersema