The grand reopening of the new softball field is pushed back to the end of June. Bowden Field has been under construction since earlier last year for renovations and was projected to be completed in time for this season.
President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said the field’s opening was delayed because the specific poles needed for the training and safety netting were out of stock.
“The softball team, because they’re having such a strong season, they will go into post-play, which we’re anticipating, and will be able to practice even though they haven’t been able to compete there,” Herseth Sandlin said.
She predicted that the field will be open and ready to go by early June of this year for the team’s extended season.
In the meantime, the vikings practice and play games at Sherman Park. It is a few blocks northwest of campus, and athletes have to drive there for practices. However, some players are grateful for how close it is compared to alternative locations in the city.
Bowden Field has not been removed since 1992. A large donation given by softball coach Gretta Melsted prompted the overdue attention to the facilities. Other donors contributed to the project as well.
“The time, effort and thought behind creating a new space for our program is exciting and appreciated,” Melsted said. “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.”
Junior Torri Chute said the new field will facilitate more efficiency within the dugouts and stadium itself.
“I’m most excited for the new atmosphere,” Chute said. “I think people will enjoy our games more because of the new setup. Also, it has a more professional feel to it.”
However, she will miss some of the memories that accompanied the old field.
“Before games, we would water the field, and after we would do field care like raking and adding dirt to the pitching mound,” Chute said. “I think it was a good little way to bond with each other. Now, obviously, with the field being turf we don’t have these responsibilities anymore.”
With the new turf installed, the softball team will have the opportunity to up their game and practice time. Senior Amanda Dickmeyer said almost every part of the renovation will help the team succeed.
“The field itself has a brand-new playing surface that is not only easier to manage, but also will help our fielders out in terms of consistent hops,” Dickmeyer said. “The entire new stadium truly makes you feel like a little kid in a candy store, and that excitement and joy will boost everyone’s game day experience.”
Dickmeyer said the new field will hopefully increase their fanbase for game day and create a stronger atmosphere for her team. She said the team has been consistently successful and the new renovations will give them a boost.
But as a senior, Dickmeyer is also a little nostalgic when she reflects on the older field.
“I think a part of me will always be connected to the old Bowden just because it is where my career began,” Dickmeyer said. “So the biggest thing I miss is just the memories I have and the relationships I built on that field. That field helped build me athletically, and I’m grateful for it even if I did get hit on bad hops more than I’d like to admit.”
If the Vikings make it to postseason play, Herseth Sandlin said the team will likely be able to practice on the field by this summer.