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What’s happening up at the new softball field?

Now that spring at last has sprung – or is it summer already? – the Marcellus Central School District buildings and grounds crew has been hard at work aerating, seeding and fertilizing the new softball field behind Marcellus High School.

Photo of building and grounds worker grooming softball field infield.Scheduled to open in time for the 2016 spring season, the field was built last summer atop a grassroots foundation of community support and cooperation. It lay dormant throughout the winter, as planned, after the application of hydro seed late last summer. This spring, as soon as last year’s seeds began to germinate and poke through the soil, the buildings and grounds team spun into action.

“We’ve been watering daily, as well as grooming the infield to discourage weed growth,” Keith Watkins, building and grounds supervisor, said. “The application of seed to soil requires at least three growing seasons to ensure that the root structure will hold firm. This spring was a critical period for us, and we’ve taken advantage of the time we’ve had since the snow melted. Our grounds staff has worked diligently on the softball field while fulfilling the district's overall grounds-keeping requirements and maintaining our other athletic facilities.”

Workers began by tentatively walking the field, to make sure the soil was firm enough for them to begin working on it. Next, they aerated, over-seeded, fertilized and top-dressed it, according to Mr. Watkins.

Next, the B&G staff will spread topsoil on the back side of the sod and seeding to eliminate the lip and, while the grass is filling in, they’ll install the pitching mound clay and home plate clay bricks. After that, it’ll be time for the “Hollywood-style” bases and outfield fence top rail wrap.

“We’ll also cap the batting cage floor with recycled turf, making it maintenance-friendly,” Mr. Watkins said. “And edging is still needed near the dugouts to eliminate infield mix washout. We also will add stone dust or pavers between the fence and dugouts, to create a clean and safe walkway for athletes.”

Construction on the field got under way after the district put out the call last year for monetary and in-kind donations to help build it – and the Marcellus community responded in force. Local residents and businesses, including contractors and engineers, rolled up their sleeves. High school sophomore and Boy Scout Kevin Brown volunteered to build the field’s dugouts as his Eagle Scout service project. Community volunteers have been working nights and weekends to put the finishing touches on the dugouts, including roofing, fascia and trim work.

“As tempting as it is for us to use the field now, we’ve learned that it’s best to hold off until the field has matured and is truly ready for play,” Mr. Watkins said. “It’s going to be a hall-of-fame field, set in an absolutely gorgeous environment.”

Top, right:
 Marcellus buildings and grounds employee John Parent grooms the infield on the district's new softball field. This is done to even fill in low areas, making it safer to play on, and to prevent the germination of grass or weeds. Above left: Large lawn sprinklers called "water cannons" are used to water the field's new grass.


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