STRATFORD — The spring season hasn’t even started yet, and Bunnell’s new artificial-surface baseball field has already helped.
“We’re slated for a scrimmage this afternoon,” Bunnell athletic director Wayne Thrall said earlier this week, “and if we were hosting on our old field, it would never happen.”
The old grass field might not thaw until mid-April, Thrall said, and rainwater ran down the hillside onto the field and sat there. Now there’s a turf field to drain that water and a graded hillside that will give fans a new experience for baseball and maybe other events, too.
The first scheduled varsity home baseball game is Monday afternoon against Immaculate. But a new full-size, multi-sport field in the baseball outfield has given the school increased capacity for games and practices, hoping to get athletes home by 7 p.m. most days.
“It gives us another turf field that can host events not only for our school, but also for the community,” Thrall said.
A lacrosse jamboree that needs two fields? They’re set. Maybe a concert series? In addition to bleachers, that hillside was graded to provide a flat spot to set up pop-up chairs, and fans at a recent scrimmage put blankets down on the slope. Play a softball game on the turf? The pitcher’s mound is removable.
And new LED lighting, a late addition to the project, will let the school toss its hat in the ring for conference or state tournament games.
“It really shines at night,” Thrall said.
The stadium also went to LED lights. That complex also got a facelift in a separate project: new turf for Bob Mastroni Field after 12 years, a new surface for the track, safety netting at either end to contain errant lacrosse shots.
The ballfield and its multi-sport field neighbor remain unnamed. “We’re just happy to have a field at this point,” Thrall said.
The multisport field could hold varsity games but seems more likely to host a junior varsity game while the stadium has varsity competition.
“Probably more so during the fall we might have to entertain the possibility,” Thrall said, “running JV and varsity games at the same time to get our athletes home at a reasonable hour.”
The baseball field has a new bullpen for the home team (the visitors’ remains in foul territory down the right field line), with storage and a new batting cage down the left field line.