The Butler baseball team is about to open its season and it will be the last go for 10 seniors.
In addition to gearing up for their last collegiate season, they are making sure those after them will have great facilities as they move forward.
“We talk about it all the time,” senior catcher Radley Haddad said. “Each class coming through Butler University is getting the best.”
Haddad said the facilities continue to improve because of the fundraising efforts put forth by the team each year.
These improvements have been happening for the last five years, Haddad said.
“We have one of the better facilities in Indiana at this point now,” Haddad said, “compared to a high school field or worse before I got here.”
Before the 2012 season, the team raised between $100,000 and $120,000, coach Steve Farley said.
That money was used for new dugouts, a new brick wall behind home plate, new backstop netting, a new patio seating area and new walkways, among other things.
“In order to get better as a team, we need better facilities,” senior first baseman Jimmy Risi said.
Risi said the team’s biggest effort comes from letter writing. Each player sends a letter and a flyer to 10 family members or friends asking for donations, and over the past few years that has been working well.
Farley did not have exact numbers for this year’s effort, but the biggest addition will be a new outfield fence and batter’s eye.
A navy blue fence will replace the old royal blue fence. The batter’s eye helps hitters see the ball better and will feature banners and Butler logos, Farley said.
“The old daycare center that’s out there in center field at Butler is kind of distracting,” Farley said. “The roof is kind of light colored, so we will cover it up.”
Farley said it would make the ballpark more attractive.
“I think it will give the ballpark a homier and closed feel,” Farley said.
The team opens its inaugural Atlantic 10 season next weekend with a non-conference series at Georgia State.
“I think we are all really excited for the switch to the Atlantic 10,” Risi said. “Coach Farley says it could be the toughest season we’ve ever had, but we’ve been working a lot harder in the weight room over the offseason than last year.”
The Bulldogs finished 22-34 overall last year and 10-20 in their final season in the Horizon League.
The A-10 is considered to be a step up in the competition, as writers have predicted Butler to finish 14th in the 15-team league.
“The scouting report is, be ready every weekend because everybody can beat you, and you can beat everyone too,” Farley said.
The predicted top four teams are Saint Louis, Rhode Island, VCU and Charlotte.
With the recent renovations, Farley expects Butler’s facilities to be around the middle to upper half of those at A-10 schools.
The Bulldogs play 10 road games before opening a three-game series at home against IPFW on March 8.