Softball slides safely home

After three seasons of traveling hours from campus to play its home
games, the St. John’s softball team finally has a field to call its
own.

The team lost its original field, nicknamed “The Pit,” when ground was
broken for the construction of the residence halls three years ago.
Construction has begun on a new field located behind the residence
halls, which will serve as the home field for the softball team. St.
John?s hopes to complete construction before the end of the season, but
due to the wintry weather that afflicted our area, the deadline has been
pushed back.

“We are moving ahead with the construction of the field, but we have no
completion date set,” said Kathleen Meehan, senior associate athletic
director. “We routinely check in on the progress and we are looking
forward to the completion.”

Currently the softball team is playing home games at Mitchell Field on
Long Island and conducting practice in Alumni Hall. Head Coach Melody
Cope said that her team is at a distinct disadvantage having to travel
for every game it plays.

“The travel begins to take a toll on you,” Cope said. “It has also been
very difficult for us to find space to practice.”

This process has been difficult in particular for the team’s seniors,
who have only had a home field for one season of their entire collegiate
careers. “It has been three years since these girls have been able to
practice on dirt,” Cope said. “It’s been really tough.”

Despite the inconveniences the team has encountered, it does not blame
the university. Cope said she fully understands the complications that
come with construction and is pleased with the location that the
university decided on for the new field.

“When we decided to build the dorms on the site of the old softball
field, we had no set plan on when and where a new stadium would be
built,” Meehan said.

Both the university and the team are hoping that they will have a
useable field by mid-April, with the completed field, along with a press
box, by next season. One area that has taken a major hit because of the
lack of an on campus facility is recruiting. It has been difficult for
Cope to impress prospective athletes without the advantage of a real
home field.

“Right now we can’t compete with the other colleges and universities
that can walk out their back door and be on their field,” Cope said.
“Hopefully, it will be different next season.”