New Turf Baseball Field Brings UT Facility to D1 Standards

By: Shane Petagna

After another trip to the Super Regional round in the NCAA Division II tournament this past spring, the University of Tampa baseball team got back to practicing on the field this week. 

Now they have a brand-new turf field to call home.

Redoing the University of Tampa baseball field was a plan in the works for three years. The baseball program funded the project entirely on its own, relying on donations from alumni and other donors. 

Problems on the old field such as poor water drainage and the grass getting beat up by constant use from the varsity and JV teams meant it would need to be replaced in time for playoffs. The start of the project was delayed a year due to the discovery of the bad drainage. Construction began over the summer and finished in early October. 

The field was designed by Shaw Sports Turf. The model of the field is the B1K Baseball System, the same used by MLB teams like the Miami Marlins and Texas Rangers.

The upgraded field aligns the baseball team with other Division I facilities across the country, according to UT’s official Instagram page.  

“For baseball, we have an opportunity here for draft picks and scouts to come to games. Players have a choice between us or other places,” said assistant athletic director for athletic communications Tom Kolbe. “Here at Tampa, with the advantages we have with location, there is the opportunity for players to get that look.”

The new field is completely turf, including the main pitching mound and both sets of bullpen mounds that sit in foul territory. For both position players and pitchers on the team, the new surface is a welcomed change.

“As a shortstop, I do prefer to play on a turf field,” said sophomore J.D. Urso. “The ball stays more true on turf rather than taking funky hops like on grass and uneven clay. You always get a consistent bounce on turf.”

“The good thing about a turf mound is that the slope stays true going down the mound,” said junior pitcher Eric Linder. “There are many mounds in our league that are not even close to regulation so being able to pitch at home on the turf is going to feel great.”

The turf is the first major change to the baseball field. There have been minor additions in years past, like the installation of analytical cameras and the batting cages that sit behind the third base dugout. 

Another addition to the field for this upcoming season is special lighting effects for when the Spartans hit a home run. 

“It’s going to be a cool experience, especially at night games when… the red lights start flashing,” said Linder. “It’s going to be a different atmosphere and I can’t wait.”

The baseball team will have to wait until spring to break out the new lights over the turf, as they have a fall season ahead of them.. The players are excited to be back on the field after being limited to practicing at other athletic facilities for the beginning of the fall semester. 

“I think it is a good time for us to get started on our fall season and it is super important to start the progress of our team building towards our goal of winning a national championship,” said Urso. 

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