At the November 25th meeting of the Longmeadow School Committee, Dr. Kevin Shea, School Committee Member and Longmeadow Softball Association (LSA) President, spoke about proposed renovations to the softball field on Russell Field. The Committee approved a motion unanimously to “improve the varsity softball field including a new backstop and dugout installation.”
Problems with the current softball field abound according to Dr. Shea. There are no covered dugouts, the bleachers are old, and there is a gap between the bench fencing and the backstop allows balls to roll out of the field which interrupts play. Dr. Shea noted that, “We got money from the Community Preservation Commission last year to improve Turner.” Turner Park, which was recently renovated and serves as the playing field for Longmeadow JV softball, has covered dugouts and home run fencing, which were paid for by both the Longmeadow Softball Association and the Park and Rec Department. The proposed improvements to Russell Field will not have a home run fence, so as to not interfere with other sports that use the field such as lacrosse and soccer.
The expected cost of these renovations is around $50,000, with the majority coming from the LSA’s application for $40,000 from the Community Preservation Commission. The remaining $10,000 will come from the School Department.
The Longmeadow Softball Association currently has approximately 110 players from first through eighth grade, and about 40 players who participate in high school softball. Many of those involved in the softball program are cognizant of the potential these improvements can have in generating greater support for the program.
Athletic Director Michael Capotosto noted that the program’s numbers “have been okay, but we’re hoping to increase that, especially at the youth level.” He hopes that, “this will build on the buzz they’ve already generated” with the renovations at Turner Park. Grace Kimball, a junior who will get a chance to play on the field for her final year with the team, said that, “With these new backstops and dugouts, hopefully it will draw more attention to the Longmeadow Softball team and show that this town has varied interests and is willing to support all of its teams.”
Softball Coach Steve Marcil echoed these sentiments. He noted that, “This is going to be year 10 for me coaching at Longmeadow High School, and we’ve been asking for a long time for softball improvements, and Mr. Capotosto and our athletic department have really come through for us this past couple of years.” He continued, “I’m hoping the renovations will give us a kickstart with kids being more excited to play softball.”
Dr. Shea hopes that the new softball backstop will rival the condition of the baseball field. He said, “If you look at the baseball diamond on Russell, it certainly is a big disparity between what the baseball field looks like in terms of its dugouts and backstop versus what we have for softball. I think it’s important that the town demonstrates that we’re supporting both girls’ and boys’ sports… I’m hoping that we’ll show it through the infrastructure of the field.” While the true impact of the renovations on the softball program in Longmeadow is yet to be seen, Dr. Shea believes that the renovations, “will just make girls more excited and recognize that the town has put its resources into the sport.”