New infield grows player’s anticipation

It appears the only thing Falley Field doesn’t do is melt snow.

After a complete offseason renovation of the baseball field, the only thing stopping the Ichabods from trying out the new turf is the snow that covers it.

“It’s nice,” said sophomore pitcher Jake Iverson. “It’s covered in snow, so we can’t use it right now, but it’s going to be really nice.”

On Feb. 22, when Washburn opens the 2008 season with a pair of home games against the University of Nebraska-Kearney, the improved field will do a lot more than just look nice.

“This is the same kind of stuff they used on the football field,” said sophomore second baseman Wes Joy. “The grass is a little longer on the football field, and this is a mixture of sand and rubber. The ball bounces real well on this, though.”

There were several instances last season when the ball didn’t bounce the Bods’ way, figuratively or literally. Getting rid of the outdated infield will at least eliminate the inconsistent bounces that result from natural grass.

“This takes some of the bad hops and breaks out of the game,” said senior Mark Stoltz. “A bad hop every once in a while can cost you a bunch of runs, and that won’t happen this year.”

Although it may take time for Washburn’s infielders to adjust to the new grass, they will eventually adapt and become accustomed to how the ball should be fielded. The same cannot be said for visitors, who will have just three or four games to try and figure out how to play on the unique field.

“We’ll be better defensively as a team because we’ll know how fast or slow the turf is,” said Stoltz.

Baserunning is a second advantage the Bods hope will make a difference throughout the season. With enough practice the team should have the timing of when and where to slide down to a science, leaving the opponents’ fielders a step behind.

“We’ll know once we get outside whether we need to slide earlier or later,” said senior Tyler Blankenship. “It will be kind of tricky at first, but once we figure it out it should be a big advantage.”

The new field may provide just as big an advantage off the field as it does on it. A brand new, lush green field will stand out in the minds of recruits over the brown, dead grass other schools have in their stadiums during the offseason.

“If nothing else we’ll get some good recruits out of it,” said Iverson. “It will work the same way the football field does: You can play on it anytime without having to worry about it getting torn up in the rain.”