After months of construction, Bowden Field is open for the 2023 season.
Construction for this project began in June 2021, with an intended completion date prior to the 2022 season; however, opening day was delayed due to supply chain issues.
The Augustana softball team started practicing on the field in May, but the field officially opened on Sept. 22, 2022, with an open house including speeches, first pitches, and a ribbon cutting.
The new field includes improvements such as larger, heated dugouts, on-site bathrooms and a turf field. The turf will allow the team to practice earlier in the season as it is more weather resistant than grass and dirt.
“To me, it’s a field that has been built with a lot of love for our student-athletes,” head coach Gretta Melsted said. “We have taken a lot of time to really think through what would provide a good experience for both fans and players. It is really rewarding to see it come to fruition. To see the ideas actually happen and to see what we were able to accomplish and what we have done. It’s an immense sense of pride for me, that field.”
Construction of the field was made possible by many generous donors, specifically the Bowdens. Herb and Esther Bowden helped to support the original field, and now, Herb’s son and daughter-in-law, Alan and Terri Bowden, are supporting support the new field.
Alan Bowden had a particular vision for the field.
“We wanted this to be something so that when [visiting players] come and talk to other people around the leagues and around the country, they’re gonna be saying, ‘You know what? You gotta play Augustana. You gotta get there. It’s just wonderful.’ And they certainly have done that with this field,” Bowden said.
While Melsted said the new field is impressive, she believes it will not improve the drive the team already has.
“Our motivation is driven through teamwork as a whole,” Melsted said. “They love and appreciate being able to play on a field that is indicative of the success that they have had, but their goals are to make a national tournament and try to win a national championship, whatever field they are on.”
The players believe the same.
“I don’t think the competitiveness or our thoughts about playing are any different between the fields,” senior Gracey Brink said. “It’s just super awesome that we get to play on this field now.”
While the 2023 schedule is not yet available, the softball team released a fall schedule with scrimmages against Dakota Wesleyan, South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota all to be played at Bowden Field.
The final scrimmage will be played this Saturday, Oct. 8, at noon.
“It’s so beautiful,” senior Delaney Young said. “We’re so grateful to have it, and I feel like we’ve always thought of it, always knew we were gonna have it, and finally it’s here. So we’re just so grateful.”