Grizzlies have new baseball field, Boosters Participate in Field Reconstruction
May 09, 2019 01:44PM
By Greg James
In the inaugural Copper Hills alumni baseball game, the old-timers outlasted the young-timers with lots of smiles and only a few errors. (photo courtesy of Tami Ostmark/ CH baseball boosters)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The parents, players and coaches with Copper Hills baseball invested nearly $175,000 into their field infrastructure.
The celebration of their accomplishment commenced with the inaugural alumni game featuring past players, including the first-ever pitcher in school history, Wes McKnight (graduated in 1998).
“The money came from the parents and a few community businesses,” Grizzly baseball booster co-President Tami Ostmark said. “We looked at the field and knew there was a need. I had a friend from an opposing team run down the baseline and got injured. We were not in the rotation with the district to get a new field, so we just decided to get it done.”
The fundraising for the field reconstruction started in June 2018. The project began in September. The final sod was laid in November before the first significant snowfall.
The entire infield was completely removed. Crews installed a new sprinkler system, backstop, home plate netting, outfield banners, dirt and sod. Head coach Joel Sundquist said its field is now up to par with the athletes that play on it.
“It shows that we are invested in this baseball program,” Sundquist said. “It is hard to justify to have your kids come here unless we do things like this. We are going to keep this nice for a long time. We have plans for other things to keep it going. We want to improve this for the community.”
The field improvements complement the combination press box and concession stand the district officials built two years ago.
“My players love it,” Sundquist said. “They deserve a place like this to play. This was a 20-year-old field. We had sprinkler heads in play, the mound was not regulation, and I could not get the bases to stay in place. It was a sandpit. The kids could not even run.”
The preseason alumni game marked the beginning of the team’s regular season.
As they gathered for the national anthem, the graduates’ children joined them on the baselines. it was a moment that garnered a sigh from the parents in the stands.
Current Grizzlies pitching coach Benji Wright, a 2012 graduate, collected the most attention from his players. They heckled him from the sidelines to get a lead and get dirty when the pitcher attempted a pick off. The largest cheer came as Wright stole second base.
“We had these guys send us a small note of what they are doing now,” Ostmark said. “This is something we want to keep doing.”
This year’s Grizzly team is excelling in the classroom too. They had seven 4.0 grade point averages and cumulatively held a 3.75 GPA. Sundquist is excited about his current players.
“We are a really good club,” he said. “We are as talented as we ever have been. We hit the crap out of the ball. We play aggressively. We have a goal for like 80 stolen bases. We want to put pressure on the other team.”
The Grizzly talent has opportunities after high school. Senior Chase Taylor has signed at BYU for next fall. Junior Braden Taylor is committed to TCU, and Kyle Hoffman is still entertaining offers.
“We have four or five division one talented players and several others that will have some interest,” Sundquist said.
Chase Taylor is hitting .415 this season and leads the team with 20 runs batted in. Braden Taylor has stolen five bases. Tyler Wells has struck out 25 opponents.
“We play in a tough region and need to give it our all every night,” Sundquist said. “These players are learning and working their butts off. I am glad we are building this with our families. Our booster club is incredible. To organize all of this, I just mentioned it, and they took over. It is good for me because I am just a coach. I put together lineups and teach kids to play the game.”
Booster club co-President Missy Hoffman has had three sons play baseball at the school (Kyle, Trevor and Zach). The new playing surface will be a standing legacy for the future Grizzly teams.
“The Hoffmans were incredible,” Ostmark said. “They donated a lot and really stepped in to make sure this got done. We really felt that this field did not live up to the caliber of players that are here.”