The renovation of Edward Jones Field to add turf to the infield is already paying for itself in the first baseball season in use. With the consistent amount of rain that Paducah and all of the First Region baseball teams have seen, baseball games were a rare commodity at times in April and May. But, the change to a turf field has made games for McCracken County a little less rare.
Across the First Region, teams has struggled to get games in, with some teams such as the Mustangs, playing 25 or more games, while others have only been able to play 14 games.
“Rarely do we get rained out for practice, we definitely don’t get rained out for games unless it’s storming at the time of the game, but it’s been amazing for our program,” McCracken County head coach Zach Hobbs said.
Getting a normal field ready for a game takes quite a bit of preparation, meaning less time to practice on said field before the actual game. But, the amount of prep time a turf field needs takes much less time, leaving more practice time for other teams in the program.
“The turf has honestly been more of an advantage for our program than I even realized,” Hobbs said. “Our younger guys get to practice right up to when our JV and varsity games start, our JV can practice on days our freshman team has games and we’ve gained countless hours of practice time that I didn’t even think of when we first put this in.”
Of course not every game is played at Edward Jones Field, but when Varsity games aren’t being held there, JV and freshman games likely are, with no worries of field conditions. When the Mustangs are scheduled to be on the road and their opponents field conditions aren’t the most ideal, Hobbs and company have the opportunity to offer to play at Edward Jones instead.
In fact, according to the schedule posted at the beginning of the season compared to what’s been played so far, there have been several instances where the location has been changed to the Mustangs home field.
“It’s been amazing, we don’t usually have this many home games, most teams, when I suggest that we play here are willing to get on a bus and come play,” Hobbs said. “And the crazy thing is we’ve had numerous teams reach out and try to play a game on our field because it’s so wet, but between or freshman, JV and varsity we’ve pretty much had a game on our field any day that it’s available.”
When talking to Coach Hobbs during the construction of the field he said he looked forward to having other teams come play their games on the new turf, but wanted to make sure all of the teams in his program were taken care of first.
“I’m not going to cancel our freshman and JV games for other high school teams, but I’m going to work with teams and if we have our field open we will work with them and it will be a way to generate some funds for our program,” Hobbs said. “We are going to do what’s best for our program and I think everyone understands that. Our booster club made the tremendous commitment to fund this for our program and our guys are going to use it as much as possible.”
McCracken County has two more home games scheduled on their turf field in the regular season, but this upcoming Saturday. The Second District tournament will also be held on the new turf, meaning weather shouldn’t delay post season play too much fingers crossed.