Bowden Field to undergo overhaul in June after donation from head coach

For the first time since 1992, Bowden Field, the home of Augustana softball, will be getting a championship-level upgrade.

A fully turfed field, suites, grandstands with chair back seating and a plaza will be up and ready to go for the start of the 2022 season. Ten days after the NCAA Division II Softball season wraps up, groundbreaking is set for June 10.

“Since I’ve come to Augustana, we’ve been looking at how do we improve the softball field,” President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said. “We upgraded the concessions stand and were looking at the seating — now we are going to be able to do a more comprehensive approach.”

Herseth Sandlin said it makes sense that renovations will begin a  year after the team won the national championships, as the field was originally built a year after the first national championship win.

“This renovation will provide a championship experience for fans and players for many years to come,” Head Softball Coach Gretta Melsted said. “The time, effort and thought behind creating a new space for our program is exciting and appreciated. I can’t wait for the new field to be unveiled to everyone and for everyone to have a chance to come be part of a great experience at Bowden Field.”

Currently ranked No. 1 in the nation and still the defending national champion from 2019, the softball team is sitting at 36-4 heading into the final week of the NSIC regular season.

“My team and I are super grateful that we have people willing to make our dream field become a reality,” sophomore Torri Chute said. “I’m excited for it, and so is everyone else. We all saw the pictures of it and were in awe at how awesome it looks. We definitely needed some renovations!”

The addition of turf to Bowden Field will set up an abundance of opportunities for the team. Practices can then be held outside longer into the fall, as well as earlier in the spring. Augustana will be able to rent out the field to teams around the area to make some extra revenue, and most importantly, the softball team will be able to play home games earlier in the season and through the rain.

“Now we’ll have a facility that’s indicative of the program,” said Athletic Director Josh Morton. “The vision has been there for some time, but I’d say in the last 18 months it really picked up steam. There’s no question the momentum from a national championship and the years leading up to it definitely got people excited and continues to.”

There hasn’t been a specific number put on the renovation, but Morton said it will be funded through a combination of large, medium and small gifts.

When the renovation is complete, Bowden Field will become the fourth outdoor turf facility on the Augustana campus, joining Kirkeby-Over Stadium, Ronken Field at Karras Park and the Larson Track and Field complex.

“The softball field is one of the first things people see when coming up to campus,” Herseth Sandlin said. “This gives us an opportunity to put another nice cornerstone with these improvements.”

Noah Wicks contributed to this report.