William Chrisman’s baseball and softball teams won’t have to trek far for practices this season, once a new field behind the high school is completed.
Activities director Shawn Terry said the diamond is slated to be practice-ready in a few days, though in all likelihood there won’t be softball games there this fall, as the bleachers have not yet been installed.
"We should get on the field next week," Terry said. "They’re finishing up the last stages of the batting cages and putting up the fencing.
"My previous school (Leavenworth, Kansas) had to share with parks and recreation. That can sometimes be a headache. It’s very nice that the kids won’t have to go off-site for practices."
"It’s great for us, because that’s when the kids start coming back to school," Chrisman softball coach Lindsey Ramsey said. "They’re excited to have a home field and get a place that we can call home."
The Independence Board of Education approved the project for $242,436 at its May 13 meeting, and the project broke ground that month.
Currently, Chrisman softball practices and plays its games at the Adair Park fields, like fellow Independence school Truman. The Bears baseball team calls Crysler Stadium at the intersection of Crysler and 23rd Street its home and will continue to play games there.
Chrisman’s new field, with accompanying batting cages behind the first base dugout, is located on the parcel of land directly east and below the level of the old football/soccer field behind the high school. There is a bullpen down the line beyond each dugout.
"The infield is real nice, real beautiful," Ramsey said. "The area’s very spacious. It’s something we’ve wanted for a long time, and we’re happy the district put it at the top of their priorities. The hope and the thought and the goal is to turn it into a home field."
When spring comes, the baseball team will be able to practice at the new field once it builds a pitcher’s mound on the all-dirt infield. The fixed outfield fencing is about 300 feet to the corners, 340 to left and right-center and slightly more to straightaway center, Terry said, and the infield is tabbed for both softball and baseball bases. A temporary plastic fence at a shorter distance will be in place for softball.
"It’s a great project. I am really excited for the softball and baseball kids," said Dan Ogle, Terry’s predecessor as AD who retired at the end of the last school year. "I have been by to see it, and it looks really nice. I love the BP cages and bullpens."
Missouri is one of the few states where even such a practice arrangement is possible, as most states play both prep baseball and softball in the spring. Terry said he knows of one school in the St. Louis area that rolls out sod for the spring in addition to building up a mound so both sports can play games on the shared diamond.
"Some day I would like to have a baseball field," Terry said. "Then we could have two fields to practice on."
Ramsey said the fact that the Bears won’t play games there this season hasn’t diminished her players’ excitement.
"Adair has been really great to us, and they have a great staff that helps us out," Ramsey said. "But to get done with school and walk out to your own field and have lockers you can use, any time you can be visible and show what your school’s about, it’s great. Our student body can more easily come and support our team."