Montreat College’s softball team will play its first home games on its new field in a March 5 double-header against the University of Northwestern Ohio. The field, located at the college’s Black Mountain campus, is a part of the construction of the $2 million athletic complex funded by donations by Rusty Pulliam and an anonymous donor. The complex was constructed by SportsField Engineering.
The field and the complex are key parts of Montreat’s larger turnaround period, which has also included renovation projects such as McAlister Fitness Center, the Louan Gideon Theatre and the renovation of the college’s dining hall.
The field project, first announced in the April 2015, has created excitement among players, coaches and fans. Working with a limited fan base recently, the softball team is especially excited about the opportunity the new field presents.
“Our fan base is not where we would like it to be,” senior Megan Recher said. “Sometimes we have more student workers than student fans. I think the people that come consistently come because they know how fun it is, and if everyone gave it a chance, they might see it as well.”
Small baseball and softball fan bases often shrink in size because people are busy and and because people aren’t willing to take the time to watch the sports.
Softball head coach Heather Maston believes the new field will draw students and players’ friends and parents to the games, as well as people from Black Mountain and Montreat.
Montreat College charges a $5 parking fee for people to watch the games (the price is also $5 for double-headers).
“I would say that the construction of the new field and athletic complex gives our team a clean slate,” Recher said. “We’ve been rebuilding these last few years, and now this year we can come in with new, beautiful facilities and try to make the school proud.”
Starting the season with eight road games (all losses) has been tough for Montreat’s softball team, especially because seven of those eight games were cut short by the so-called “mercy rule.” However, the team hopes that fans will come out for a few innings as the team begins playing home games.
“Fans gain an opportunity to watch local players, players from across the country, and international players play a sport that they love, and a sport that has recently been reinstated into the 2020 Olympic games,” coach Maston said. “Attending Montreat College softball games gives the spectator an experience in a family-like atmosphere while watching competitive games.”
At a time in which people are too busy to attend sporting events, softball continues to offer inexpensive entertainment. “Family and friends come to the games to watch for many reasons. Some love to watch the hits and home runs, and some like to see the diving catches, the great change-ups and the strikeouts,” sophomore Lauren Rowell said.
With a young team, the Montreat softball team’s games March 5 are the first of several home games throughout March that could provide momentum for its upcoming conference games.