Valley baseball field gets ‘complete overhaul’ during pandemic canceled season
Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 5:10 PM
The coronavirus pandemic might have stopped the Valley baseball team from playing last season, but head coach Jim Basilone and assistant coach Brad Wood took advantage of the downtime in a big way and gave the Vikings’ home field a makeover.
Over the course of the past year and a half, Basilone and Wood built new home and away dugouts, added a new batting cage, replaced dirt throughout the infield, installed a new drainage system around the infield and added a few other things that have made it a perfect place to play.
“We got some money from the school, but we also fundraised and got some donations,” Basilone said. “We put all the money into it and all the time, Brad and I were down here 16 hours a day and when we had the layoff it was very beneficial because we got a ton done.”
Wood said: “When we weren’t playing or practicing and the team was off during the summer and fall, we were down here: weekends, weeknights, daylight to dawn.”
Seeing it come together might’ve been one of the more satisfying things about the project for Wood.
“It was a great experience to see how everything developed and how everyone appreciates it now,” Wood said. “It’s a big difference and everything has been completely overhauled.”
Before the pandemic, the Vikings would play their games without dugouts and would sit on benches that were just outside the fence. They didn’t have any shade during games, but that’s not the case anymore.
The new dugouts are painted black with a seating section on one side and a turf area on the other so players can spread out throughout the game. There’s also a newly built bat and helmet holder for players to place their equipment during games.
The home dugout also has a new PA and sound system.
Basilone and Wood placed tarp on the fence around the backstop and will be hanging up tarp around the outfield fence as well, but that’s a project for another day, Basilone said.
“We’re still not completely finished, but it’s going to take a good two years and we’ve worked on it for a year and a half,” Basilone said.
One of the biggest improvements was the quality of the infield. Basilone said the drainage system they installed, which runs down each baseline and around the circle of the infield, will help on rainy days to keep the field in decent playing condition. The Vikings have yet to be rained out this year.
With new dirt and a smooth surface, players pick up clean hops on ground balls consistently, which makes it enjoyable to play on.
“They feel like they are in Caesars Palace now,” Wood said. “We realize what we have at our home field, and they appreciate it. They really like it, and they are really enjoying it.”
The Vikings (5-2) have hosted four this season and have won all of them.
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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