Turf fields have become increasingly invaluable resources for high school athletic programs, and the Olentangy Orange High School softball program will soon be able to enjoy those perks. During Thursday’s meeting of the Olentangy Schools Board of Education, Orange softball coach Mason Robinson detailed the program’s plans to upgrade its softball field with the addition of a turf surface.
“Turf would really allow us to connect with our youth,” Robinson told the board. “Right now, we have one softball field at our high school, so we use our high school and middle school field. Being able to use turf and really getting our youth into the program and bought in (would be a benefit).”
Robinson added that having a turf field would help the Orange program in hosting tournaments, which would create more opportunities to promote Orange softball.
By eliminating the dirt aspect of the field, which can often lead to games being rained out during wet springs, Robinson said there will be increased opportunities for games and practices as well. For away games that would otherwise be rained out, Orange could turn those games into home games by being able to offer a turf surface that would still be playable despite the weather.
“This past spring, we actually had 10 rainouts,” Robinson told the board. “If we would have had turf, we would have had one (rainout). It really allows us in that short season to be able to play on our field.”
Robinson highlighted the fundraising revenue the program receives that will allow them to support the installation of a turf surface. The softball program has also partnered with Orange Baseball Club, a local youth travel baseball organization, to help with the financing.
The remaining financing will come from a loan of $105,000 for which the program has been approved by Bridge Credit Union, according to Robinson. The loan is for a period of five years and comes with a 5% interest rate.
Levan’s Excavating, which has previously installed turf on Orange’s baseball field and is currently preparing to install turf on the Olentangy Liberty softball field this fall, has been selected to install the turf. Once the Liberty field is completed, Levan’s Excavating will pivot immediately to the Orange softball field.
Board President Kevin O’Brien said of the project, “This basically follows the model between the football fields (and) the baseball diamonds. It’s kind of the template from which we have established a very strong track record of being able to raise the monies, satisfy the debt, and put the fields in place. It’s been a very successful model, and I think this is a very worthwhile project.”