St. C. set to open softball field

The drainage has been improved, the dugouts refurbished and several other improvements have been completed at the St. Clairsville Junior Sports Softball Field.

Now, there’s basically nothing left to do except step back and enjoy some diamond action for the remainder of the spring and summer.

Well, there’s one more piece of business.

On Saturday at approximately 11:30 a.m., the newly renovated field, which is located on North Market Street, will be formally re-opened as Junior Sports officials as well as dignitaries representing the Pittsburgh Pirates Charities, which provided a matching grant for the project. After the ceremony, the Lady Red Devils are slated to take on the Cambridge Lady Bobcats in doubleheader, which is scheduled to begin at noon.

Pirates’ Chairman Robert Nutting, former player Kent Tekulve and the Pirate Parrot will be on hand for the event, which according to Tom Morrison, who submitted the grant request to the Pirates, may go on rain or shine because of the schedule demands for the aforementioned Pirates’ dignitaries.

“We’re definitely hoping the weather cooperates because we really don’t have a back-up plan,” Morrison said. “We’re thrilled to have Mr. Nutting and Mr. Tekulve coming down because without the Pirates’ matching grant, we wouldn’t have been able to do this project.”

Morrison and the rest of the St. C. Junior Sports were informed in the middle part of July that they’d been approved for the matching grant request and work began immediately to improve drainage on the field, increase the size of the dugouts by adding a layer of block and putting new turface and sand on the infield.

“Everything went pretty much as planned, but we did run into some weather issues,” Morrison said. “But whenever the weather broke a little bit, we got right back on it and I’d say we’re almost 100 percent finished with it now other than a few more things we’d like to do down the road.”

Morrison was quick to point out the work and dedication of both Jerry Sowers and Bob Figura during the bulk of the project.

“Those guys were pretty much in charge,” Morrison said. “They’re really dedicated to this and it wouldn’t have gotten done without them. We’re fortunate to have guys like Jerry and Bob in this community. The overall support we received has been tremendous.”

All told, the project actually went over the budgeted amount, according to Morrison. The drainage installation was the biggest cost.

“We put drainage all the way around the field and put a catch basin in to collect water coming off the hillside, which used to make a river near third base,” Morrison said.

While the total cost of the entire project was more than $10K, Morrison indicated it would have been much more had it not been for the donation of time and labor from several individuals throughout the community.

“The community really pitched in and helped us out,” Morrison said. “If we had to pay retail for all of this we probably would have had more than $15 thousand invested.”

The field’s new drainage system has responded well, according to Morrison.

“We’ve had a quick recovery time on the field,” Morrison said. “After a good rain, we’ve been able to get back on it in a couple days, where it used to be just under a week or so before.”

While the Lady Red Devils don’t formally play their first official game on the field until Saturday, Coach Rachel Duncan’s squad did host three scrimmages prior to regular season beginning.

St. C. will play its entire home schedule on the newly completed field. The Division III sectional tournament will still be played on the mustang field just down the road at the St. C. Junior Sports Complex.

Saturday’s ceremony will include brief remarks from Morrison and Duncan. The workers and businesses who helped made the entire project possible will be recognized.

Nutting will also speak and Tekulve will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on the field.

“I threw out several dates to the Pirates, inviting them to come for this, but I didn’t hear anything back for a long time,” Morrison said. “One day, I got a call from Mr. Nutting, who was down at spring training, asking about April 2 and expressed that he’d like to come out for the celebration. I was just thrilled. It’s just pretty awesome to have those gentlemen coming.”

St. Clairsville High School Principal Jim Rocchi will be on hand to present a plaque to both the Pirates’ brass and the St. C. Junior Sports.

Staskey can be reached at