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MAHS softball field to get $300,000 upgrade; new seating areas and sound system will be added

By David Barr davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 7/5/17

The Middletown Area High School softball field will receive nearly $300,000 worth of improvements this summer.

About $290,000 from the capital reserve fund will be used to finance the project …

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MAHS softball field to get $300,000 upgrade; new seating areas and sound system will be added

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The Middletown Area High School softball field will receive nearly $300,000 worth of improvements this summer.

About $290,000 from the capital reserve fund will be used to finance the project for the field, which is located behind Middletown Area Middle School. Capital reserve funds are intended to be used for capital improvements and maintenance in the district, according to David Franklin, the district’s chief financial officer.

“I can’t wait until next year,” head softball coach Mike Thomas said in an email. “New field, new uniforms. Our players will be very excited to play for Middletown.”

The Middletown Area School District School Board approved the work at its June 19 meeting. The project will be completed by WG Land Co. LLC of Fayette County.

Improvements include a new elevated fan seating area behind the backstop, a warning track around the outfield fence, bullpen and batting cages, backstop netting, a sound system, provisions for a concession stand, and a flagpole.

“We are excited for the much needed changes,” Thomas said. “Much needed is an understatement. I usually have to apologize to coaches when they come to play at our field. The playing field is actually in great shape but it’s everything else I apologize for. Our new field guy, Kurt Klinger, has done an excellent job with the field.”

The infield will be moved closer to the outfield fence, which improves the line of sight for spectators. Thomas said that the process of moving the field involves cutting out more dirt in the outfield and planting grass in areas closer to the dugouts.

Franklin went into further detail, explaining that the outfield sod will “be methodically and precisely harvested and reused after an extension to the infield is created. The entire infield need not be reconstructed as a result. This saves both time and money in the renovation of the field.”

The project will begin July 5 upon final approval from the Dauphin County Conservation District. The expected end date is Sept. 8, with any remaining work expected to be completed by Nov. 8.

To accommodate the new backstop netting, the current chain-link fence behind home plate will be moved and two poles with a pulley system that will raise and lower the netting will be installed. This device will be about 25 feet behind home plate and will extend to both dugouts.

“This will offer enhanced visibility to the spectators located behind the netting,” Franklin said in an email.

The softball field was built in 2007 as part of the middle school design project and was intended to be used as a practice field. It became the primary facility about six years ago as it was a better facility than the field at the high school.

When the new high school was being planned, there was an alternate bid for a new softball field, meaning the district asked for bids from the contractors to consider adding work on the softball field into their plans. The alternate bid was not accepted.

According to Franklin, while the high school was being designed, concerns were raised about the dugout locations and the location of the batter’s box; the existence of a hole under the left/left center field fence; the lack of a seating area for the visiting team; insufficient bullpen space; the conditions of the infield, pitcher’s mound, second base, and home plate; and a lack of fence covering.

After the alternate bid was rejected, the board approved minor improvements, including fixing the hole under the left/left center field fence; improving the conditions of the infield, pitcher’s mound, second base and home plate; and the lack of fence covering.

The entire playing surface was seeded and a scoreboard was added, according to Franklin. That work cost $15,600.

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