By JACQUI L. HERSHBERGER
A dream of almost 10 years is weeks away from being realized for Dalton High School — a new softball field.
“It has been the desire of the school district to provide our high school softball program with their own field. For a long time, the teams have been using the village’s field. When the new Elementary and Middle School was built in 2012 and Dalton Elementary and Intermediate schools were raised, the plan was to eventually build a high school softball field on that property in downtown Dalton. Therefore, the property was prepped to one day become a softball field,” said Brian Misanko, Dalton’s athletic director and assistant principal.
“It’s supposed to be done in April so we can start playing on it,” said first year JV Coach Travis Van Pelt. “It’s very dependent on the weather. So, we’d like to get up there this year, we hope to, because the season is so short.
“We hope to at least get this class of seniors to get on the field before their senior game,” Van Pelt continued. “That would be really great for them to kind of break the field in and it’s exciting for the girls to get something new.”
The new softball field, behind Dalton Presbyterian Church and across the street from the Dalton library has a dirt infield of crushed red clay, with a sod outfield, and a warning track around the field.
“Right before you get to the fence, there’s five or six feet of pebbles. If you feel that, you know you’re getting close to the fence,” Van Pelt explained.
The field in use now is right beside the gas stations and U.S. 30.
“Currently there is netting on the baseball field turned softball field for the season,” Van Pelt said. “If a foul ball goes up and it hits the net, the play is dead. It stops. Without that, the catcher has a chance to make a play for an out.”
The new field will have dugouts with a storage closet to hold tools and equipment. There will also be an electronic scoreboard out in right center field. Looking to the future, they hope to build restrooms.
“We do not have an exact date as we are still waiting for some drainage issues to be taken care of, as well as the installation of the backstop fence. Our goal will be to open the field sometime this season. The spring weather has really delayed us,” Misanko said.
The softball season goes from the last weekend in March to the second week in May.
“Without the support of our community members and their financial support this softball field would not be here today,” Misanko said. “We are thankful to the Howard Wenger family and Wenger Companies who was the driving force behind launching this project. Also thanks to Doug and Deb Wenger, Jason Geiser and Deco-Crete, Tim Steiner and Steiner Masonry, The Class of 1971, the family of Janine C. Ramer.”
Skylar McConnell, a junior at Dalton, is in her 10th year playing softball.
“I’m very very grateful, and we appreciate everyone who’s put the money to make this field, because it’s a very nice field, and a very great upgrade,” she said.