George Guido: Burrell softball field undergoing facelift

Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | 6:32 PM

Usually, 30 isn’t the age for a facelift, but Burrell’s softball field at Bon Air Elementary School is getting one.

The facility — one of the finest in the Alle-Kiski Valley — is having work done this summer. W.G. Land, Inc. of Champion was awarded a $276,500 contract by the school district for a variety of work that is underway.

Renovation items include replacing the outfield and baseline fences with another 4-foot high structure and an updated drainage system with the underground pipes covered with 3 inches of gravel.

But the most significant work is filling in a nearly 4-foot drop in right field, school district facilities director Dave Ploskunak said.

Once that is taken care of, a new coating of topsoil will be followed by planting grass. The field should be ready to go by mid-August.

“It will really look great when it’s done,” Ploskunak said.

As for now, the adjacent playground will be closed to the kids of the surrounding neighborhood until the project is finished.

The field was built with nearly all volunteer labor and donated materials in late summer 1989.

State Little League softball officials were so impressed with the work that the 1990 state finals in the Majors Division (ages 11-12) were held there.

Little League returned in 1994 with the senior (ages 13-15) championship tourney in ‘94, and the field was converted to baseball in ‘98 for the eight-team state Major Division finals, won by Latrobe.

Also, the field has been used for several WPIAL playoffs games when the late Bill McGuire was Burrell athletic director and a WPIAL board member.

New Louisiana law protects refs

The trend of harassing high school referees and officials has become all too prevalent nationwide.

Now, according to USA Today, Louisiana is doing something about it. House Bill 184 there will make it a crime.

The bill passed in the Bayou State specifically protects all officials working games at the high school level or community recreation level from verbal and physical abuse during and after the game. It even covers confrontations at an official’s car after the game.

The new law states: “Those charged can be fined as much as $500 and sentenced to up to 90 days in jail. They must perform 40 hours of community service and attend a court-approved anger management program. An individual who is ejected and ordered to leave the facility but does not can be fined up to $500 and sentenced to as much as six months in jail.”

It is unclear what “community service” entails, but let’s hope those 40 hours aren’t spent around young athletes or children overall.

One of the clear goals of the new law is to overcome what Pennsylvania and many other states face: identifying and retaining new game officials.

Our state has had a law on the books since 1990 pertaining to assaults on sports officials.

According to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, a person who “attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury” is guilty of simple assault. Assault of a sports official includes that offense.

Assault on a sports official is a first-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Louisiana will be the 24th state to enact such a law.

Now, let’s hope prosecutors and judges have strong enough spines to enforce these laws, lest they become meaningless.

PIAA transfer rule tweaked

At last week’s PIAA Board of Directors meeting, passed on a second reading basis, a measure to adjust the competition formula to reduce the number of transfers required to trigger an increase in classification from five in football and two in basketball, to three in football and one in basketball for the two-year cycle of the competition formula.

The PIAA also has started providing a guide to athletic directors and principals to detail transfer rule changes.

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