Jason Yantzer has seen a lot of changes to the baseball field at the Hotchkiss K-8 school in the last 12 years. About eight years ago a backstop and dugouts were added and play area was expanded.
In 2011, the K-8 school installed a new sign that says "HOTCHKISS PRIDE - HOTCHKISS BULLDOGS" in large red letters across the concrete backstop.
"The field has changed drastically," said Yantzer, head baseball coach for the Bulldogs.
Over fall break more improvements were made. Grass was added to the infield and a sprinkler system was installed.
"It makes it look like a baseball field," said Yantzer. "The game should be played on grass, I think."
Planning for the project took about three years. "Then it all happened really fast," said Yantzer. It was a true community effort.
Work began before fall break and was completed Oct. 20. Bulldogs Russ Evans, Jake Hubbell, Tanner Bizer, Blake Waddington, Logan Hill, Jacobe Galley, Trenton Tamayo and Tye Bayles, along with coach and teacher Curtis Hintz, spent fall break working on the project.
Tribble & Sons Excavation and former Bulldog Jake Tribble did the excavation work, which included digging the infield down several inches so that a layer of compost and topsoil could be laid down before installing the grass. A temporary fence was installed around the infield to keep people off the grass until it has established roots.
Evans, a senior, is already counting down to the first practice next February. He was at the field the final day of work, and explained the benefits. For one, the sprinkler system can be turned on between games to keep the dust down along the base line. In addition to slowing infield balls down, the grass will prevent pebbles from popping up and hitting players in the face.
"Safety was the No. 1 concern," said Yantzer. "Those ground balls are coming in really fast."
The improvements will also help the Bulldogs get through playoff games, which are played on grass. For teams used to playing on dirt, the grass surface can change the tempo of the game, and players need time to adjust, said Yantzer. That is a disadvantage for the team.
And the field just looks nice.
The Bulldog Booster Club and HHS principal Mike Beard raised the money for the installation of grass. Dan and Jane Sullivan provided funding for the irrigation system and Todd Queen and Bolinger & Queen laid out the sprinkler system and provided irrigation pipe. Dan Cholas did the field layout. Rick Zimmerman provided the tractor and Rototiller. Sharon Crespin and Butch Widner, Superior Sod and Hotchkiss Rentals also contributed to the project.
Yantzer gave special thanks to the Delta County J50 school administration, including Caryn Gibson, Kurt Clay and Todd Markley for their support, and to John McHugh, head of maintenance.
That players invested time and effort into the project is important, said Yantzer. "It gives them pride in their field."blog comments powered by Disqus