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CCHS, SC and NH reworking athletic fields

CCHS, SC and NH reworking athletic fields
CCHS, SC and NH reworking athletic fields
North Harrison's outfield fence has a bit of character with a 45-foot difference in distance just 30 feet out from the foul pole. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

Three of the four high schools in Harrison County hope to have most of their new athletic facilities completed by the time students return to classrooms this fall.
At North Harrison, an impressive state-of-the-art baseball field and press box was constructed just northeast of the girls softball diamond. In addition, the football field was completely redone and a new press box is being built to replace the rickety structure that’s been there for almost three decades.
At Corydon Central, the girls softball field and former football practice field is being graded for construction of a new softball field, a press box and a new baseball diamond. The old baseball field will become the football practice field.
And south of Corydon, at South Central, an auxiliary gymnasium is going up with expanded locker room space, classrooms and storage.
So why all the sudden interest in the improvement of athletic facilities? Superintendents for both schools cite safety and necessity as the key elements.
“With the metal bats in baseball and these kids getting so much bigger, our ball park was becoming obsolete in terms of size, and that made it very dangerous for anyone on the track when the baseball team was taking batting practice,” said North Harrison Supt. Monty Schneider. “It was bombs away, and you really had to watch what was going on or you could get hit.
“The press box we had to make bigger and more user friendly, but it was also pretty unstable when you got up top to film games or band contests. We were worried someone might end up falling off. So I guess in both cases it was a matter of safety first and then we wanted an improvement in size.”
South Harrison Supt. Neyland Clark said he wanted to eliminate much of the student pedestrian traffic across Country Club Road.
“We know there’s no realistic way to eliminate all of it, but the change in venues will help. And, basically, we are trying to consolidate areas related to each sport,” said Dr. Clark. “Now football is in one place and baseball and softball is in one place.
“Over the past several years we have had to rent port-a-cans over at the softball and baseball fields, and now we’re trying to build a complex that can serve both. We want to try to get better usage of the facilities and maximize the space that we have. In talking with all of the coaches and the athletic director, they were in agreement and felt it was a good plan,” Clark said.
In Ramsey, the football field has been completely re-sod with resilient Bermuda grass. An irrigation system — which the field did not have — was installed under the surface. Dirt was brought in to fill the sidelines so they’re level with the track surface. New goal posts have been put into place (the old ones will be moved to the practice field). Some of the crown was removed and the drop-off from the track to the grass in the turns of the track was filled in as well.
Grass was planted on the football field in mid-June and is coming in nicely, thanks to the hot and humid weather, which Bermuda thrives on. Because North Harrison plays its first two games on the road, that’s almost two full months for the grass to come in. The only events scheduled before then are a band contest and a JV football game. The annual scrimmage versus Corydon Central will likely be moved to the Panthers’ facility to give the grass an extra week to grow.
It’s the first remodeling of the football field since it was constructed over 30 years ago.
A spacious press box is also being constructed that will rival Corydon Central’s masterpiece. It will feature climate controls, large pane glass windows, plenty of room for media and workers, and will give the school added storage space underneath for track and football equipment.
“One really good thing about the work that’s gone on up there is that we’ve contracted all of the work out locally. Don Hanen has been spearheading everything, and it looks like we’ll be able to get it all done without increasing taxes,” Schneider said.
Also in Cougar Country, one of the finest baseball parks in Southern Indiana is coming into its own.
The new field has seating for a couple hundred (handicapped accessible seating is now available as well), spacious dugouts, a grand nine-inning scoreboard, and a massive press box with enclosed restrooms, concession stand and water fountains.
The outfield fence is 320 feet down the lines, juts out to 365 about 30 feet towards center and is 380 straightaway.
The heavy spring rain caused some drainage and grass-growing problems at the field, but with over nine months until the first pitch of baseball season, everything should be ready for play.
“The contractors really didn’t make a whole lot of progress there for a while, but I think we’ve caught up a little bit,” Schneider said. “Jeffersonville is putting in a new ball park and they ran into the same problems we did. The fields are pretty similar.”
There’s been some talk from the locals about the possibility of lights going in and landing a sectional. Schneider says that’s putting the horse in front of the buggy.
“If we do end up putting lights in, we’d have to do it at the same time as the girls softball field to keep things equal, and we couldn’t swing that without upping taxes, which we certainly don’t want to do. The days of building an athletic facility just to host a sectional are long gone, too,” Schneider explained.
“Even if you do get a sectional, you might only host it a year or two and it rotates. We’d love to host one, but that’s certainly not the driving force in the improvements.”
Once everything settles into place on the baseball field, the girls softball team will likely take over the old baseball diamond, which already has an irrigation system and fencing in place.
Corydon Central hopes to have its work ready in time for the spring season, but it’ll be close. Construction began just a couple of weeks ago on the two diamonds that will be located behind the high school. Right now, there’s just dirt. When completed, there will be a press box, concessions and restrooms located between the parks.
“The home plates are going to be offset so that you can look out of one side of the box for the baseball games and the other side for the softball game,” Clark said. “We tried to position the fields to keep the batter at the plate from having the sun in their eyes.
“We’re a little concerned about the grass coming in. Hopefully, we’ll have a conducive fall to help things out a little bit.”
Grass isn’t the only concern at the new site. A large sinkhole was discovered recently and has been capped by engineers.
“If you’d asked me two weeks ago about the sinkhole, I’d have been extremely worried about it,” Clark said. “The engineers did a really wonderful job though. They filled it with shock rock (large boulders) and capped it.
“They’ve done many others, including one when the school building was constructed, and they’ve not had any problems. Barks and Ferree (the local contractors) have capped many before and none have opened up. We’re hoping that we don’t experience any more problems. You can really tell they take pride in their work because that hole was probably 40 feet deep, and they really took care of it.”
At some point, Clark said, fencing will be put up so that there’s an entry way to the complex. Also, at some point he wants to put lights up on both fields.
“South Central has lights for evening play on both of their diamonds, and we’d like to do the same at the Corydon campus,” Clark said.
At South Central, one gym was being used for 6th through 12th grade boys and girls basketball players, making the logistics of practice times a nightmare.
The construction of the auxiliary gymnasium is expected to take care of that, Clark said.
“It’s tough when you’ve got kids coming in at 6 a.m. and practicing until 10 p.m.”
The gymnasium will be used for practices only and will not have spectator seating.
Clark couldn’t give a definitive date for completion because more class rooms, an upgrade in the auditorium and cafeteria and other projects are going on at South at the same time.
“That’s a major project down there,” Clark said. “It should all be done by December of 2003. The gym won’t be ready this fall for sure.”