Exeter builds $70K softball field

By Andrea Camarena

When they return to the softball field this spring, the Lady Monarchs will find their home field a little closer to home.

Thanks to a $70,000 grant from the JG Boswell foundation, Exeter broke ground on a state of the art softball field at the south end of the high school last week..

The Monarchs have called Dobson Field their home field for the past 20 years, but when the city decided to turn &#8220field 5”of the softball/baseball complex into a permanent Little League facility, the Monarchs went hunting for an alternative to homelessness.

The Monarchs were able to find a solution in the JG Boswell Foundation through one of its players, Jody Williamson, said Monarch Athletic Director Darin Pace.

Williamson, a returning senior, created the connection through her father, Marty Williamson, a Rancher who works with the foundation through his profession.

Williamson, a shortstop, was one of the Monarchs leading hitters on the 2005 East Sequoia League Championship softball team. The Monarchs went as far as the Division III Valley title game against defending champs, El Diamante.

The Monarchs fell to the miners in a close game and before beginning the softball field project, Exeter administrators returned to El Diamante. On Exeter's last trip into Miner territory, it wasn't to fight for a title; it was to observe El Diamante's softball facilities.

&#8220We toured facilities in the area to find what we wanted,” Pace said.

With $70,000 dollars to burn, Exeter found elements at El Diamante, Tulare's softball complex and Central High School in Fresno.

The combination of those fields will give Exeter a square-netting backstop, masonry dugouts, automatic infield sprinklers and Turface field products.

Exeter's field, which is already under construction, is located at the Southwest corner of the practice football field along Kaweah Road.

&#8220The Boswell family was looking for a fan-friendly atmosphere,” Pace said.

That fan-friendly atmosphere will give Exeter's field a contemporary look, far from the school's former city-owned facility.

Instead of a traditional chainlink backstop, a three-foot mason cinderblock wall will serve as the base for the backstop. Above the wall, a net will replace the protection of the chainlink fence.

&#8220The new netting is easy to see through and safe,” Pace said.

Other upgrades to the field include two pitching machines, two batting cages and a pitching warm-up area on the field. For the fans, the traditional aluminum bleachers will seat up to 300 people.

With the investment put into the field, and the expense of the upkeep and maintenance, the field will be for school use only.

The infield will be made up of Turface products, including a type of clay seen on Major League and college-level fields.

The funding provided by the Boswell grant will not only benefit varsity players. The freshman team will also have a field upgraded on campus as well.

As for Dobson Field, the fence around the former varsity field has already been taken down and rebuilt to suit the size requirements for Little League baseball, according to Linda Wachter at the City of Exeter Parks and Recreation Office.

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