COLUMBIA — Hickman High School softball coach Courtney Haskell said there were few options when it came to choosing a new surface for the school's baseball and softball field.
"It was either turf or don't play here," Haskell said.
After years of playing home games at Antimi Sports Complex in Cosmopolitan Park, the softball team wanted a new place to play. The decision came last year for the softball team to return to Hickman's campus and share the field with the Hickman baseball team, which had already been playing there.
Hickman baseball coach Dan Devine said the only way it would work for both teams to play there was for turf to be installed on the field.
The school went along with the plan and installed the turf last fall. While the turf was not finished in time for softball season, the baseball team played on the new turf last spring. The softball team debuted on its new field Aug. 26.
The Hickman women's softball team used its new turf on Tuesday. The team practiced despite the heat and said the new turf was working out well. (Shelby Kardell/Missourian)
The first game at their new home went well for the Kewpies. Shannon Greene struck out 11 in a complete game shutout, and Morgan Hawkins collected two RBIs in a 6-0 win over Boonville.
The new turf is similar to the turf used on Hickman's football field and other turf football fields across the country. For the baseball/softball field, the turf is brown in the infield and green in the outfield.
"It's not like the '80s AstroTurf everyone thinks of," Haskell said.
One dilemma of playing baseball and softball on the same field is the difference in field dimensions. When the field transitions from one sport to the other, the holes where the bases are placed are filled with a plug.
As far as the pitching mound, Devine said the team replaces the softball rubber during the spring with a permanent baseball mound, which has turf on the sides and dirt where the pitcher normally throws.
Devine said he enjoys not having to maintain the field, especially after it rains. He said the decrease in field maintenance resulted in grief from opposing coaches.
While Hickman is the only team in the area with turf, senior infielder Molly Carter said many of the girls played on turf during indoor softball leagues, as well as occasionally practicing on the school's football field.
Carter likes the turf and, even more, she likes playing at the high school.
"The atmosphere is just better," Carter said. "There are more places to sit. Our friends on the soccer and football team are also able to come before and after practice."
Despite only playing one game on the new turf, Carter said the new playing surface surprised the team's first opponent.
"They had a tough time knowing where to stand," Carter said. "Some of the dirt color is where our grass would usually be. They judged where to stand based on where the dirt ends."
Hickman's next home game is Saturday against Blue Springs High School.
The game will be the next of many for the Kewpies on the turf, which has a 10-year warranty.
"The turf provides so many benefits," Devine said. "The field gets a tremendous amount of use. We get more kids out there playing, which is our goal."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.