Flowers blossoming, birds chirping and warming of the weather always come around springtime, also known for being season for America’s pastime.
Baseball and softball fields across the country are manicured and groomed. Those at Butler are no exception. However, Butler’s fields are not primarily cared for by the grounds crew. Instead, they are cared for by the teams that play on them.
“It is tradition that coaches and teams do the dirty work, baseball coach Steve Farley said. “We take pride in it, and it comes with the territory.”
The softball team has no problem rolling up its sleeves to keep its field in top shape.
“We have to work harder on our field than any other Division I softball team,” senior Callie Dennison said. “Before I got to Butler, the field was in rough shape. Now that we got a new field, we take a lot of pride in it and we, the coaches and the players, do a lot of extra work to keep it in good condition.”
There are many day-to-day activities that contribute to the long-term maintenance of the fields.
The baseball team breaks down the care of its field into smaller jobs for handfuls of players to take care of on a regular basis. The total manicure of the field is dependent on the individual jobs of teammates.
“It is extremely important that each member of the team takes care of his field duty,” senior pitcher Will Schierholz said. “We are the ones who take care of the field each day and if we do not do our jobs, the field could be unplayable. We take pride in our field work, as we want to have the best playing surface possible.”
Each member of the softball team has important jobs to do following each use of the field.
“After every practice and game we sweep out the dugouts, rake and drag the field and rake the warning track,” Dennison said. “Most Division I softball teams have a separate staff that does their field maintenance. Fully funded schools that we have played at, such as Kentucky and Arkansas, both have amazing fields. But they also get a lot of help on their fields every day.”
There is one man who helps with the maintenance of the field who does not have a uniform.
James Conner, a Butler employee, mows the fields’ grass. Farley also get some maintenance tips from professional ground keepers.
“We have a good relationship with the grounds keeper at Victory Field downtown and one of my former players is a grounds keeper in Philly, so we are always looking for tips to help make the field nicer,” Farley said.
Despite the harsh winter, Farley said the weather has not made that much of a difference on the field due to the team’s schedule and the field’s good condition.
Both teams also play many games in the South early in the season because the weather is warmer, Farley said.
In fact, it is the hard weather that has had more of an effect on the team’s rhythm than the condition of their field.
“It has really been hard for baseball and softball to get going, because games get delayed or canceled due to bad weather,” Farley said.