In early November, the Augustana Mirror reported the upgrades to Ronken Field at Karras Park. The improvements are now finished and being tested out in the first couple of weeks of the spring baseball season.
Not only has Augustana played games at the newly-renovated complex, schools have traveled over 500 miles to play on the field.
The reason: turf. The turfed infield has made the field playable when others have not been. Being able to play on the field not only interested schools around the area, it also gave Augustana the ability to practice outside.
“The turf has been awesome and given us a chance to get outside and play games much earlier than we would have,” head baseball coach Tim Huber said.
As this week’s weather has proven, this spring has not been the most conducive for outdoor activities. Every extra opportunity to be outside has been valuable.
Augustana has been able to play nine games at Ronken Field, including seven victories.
“We have been about the only team in our conference to be outside regularly and get games in early in the season at home,” Huber said. “My phone has been ringing off the hook with people looking to use our field.”
Home-field advantage has indeed been an advantage for the Vikings as well, as Augustana is 4-11 at opponents’ fields.
Not only has the field been appreciated by the coaches and players, the fans have taken notice to the improvements.
“It’s a great venue to watch a baseball game,” freshman Cole Snyder said. “The grandstand makes it very nice. You can see everything very well.”
Snyder has watched several Augie wins at the new complex, as well as freshman Taylor Reinke.
“It looked nice,” Reinke said. “It looks better than high school fields.”
The field has been a hot commodity for schools left without a playable field.
“We have had several teams rent the field for their games,” Huber said. “Just conference teams alone: Southwest Minnesota State, Winona State, Minot State, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Northern State, University of Minnesota-Crookston, Bemidji State and Concordia-St. Paul have all used our field already.”
Due to the winter storm this week, Augustana’s doubleheader against Bemidji State scheduled for April 10 was canceled.
Augustana will host Upper Iowa next at Ronken Field on April 17 in a conference doubleheader.