Some softball players express opposition to artificial turf that will cover their field

September 12, 2015 — by Neil Rao and Summer Smith

Looking around school, renovations seem to be happening in every corner. But not all have been received with enthusiasm.

Looking around school, renovations seem to be happening in every corner. But not all have been received with enthusiasm.

One such area is the softball field, which, along with the upper field, is newly being covered in artificial turf. The only areas that will not be turfed on the softball field are the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box.

However, some members of the softball team say they aren’t happy with the decision to put in the turf and wanted more of a say in the matter.

Senior Eleni Spirakis, a pitcher on the varsity softball team, raised concerns last May in a letter to the Los Gatos Weekly Times concerning the efficacy of turfing the softball field and the likelihood of it actually saving water. However, players’ main concern lies in the way that softball will be played on the surface.

“(Artificial turf) is hot, unsafe, and it's not real softball in my opinion if you aren't sliding and getting dirty,” said senior softball player Ellie Lee.  

Principal Paul Robinson said the decision to turf the field is an economic one, adding that the administration researched alternatives before anything final was decided.

“We have so little field space that we need to be able to maximize its usage. By utilizing turf, we’ll save close to a million gallons of water this year from those fields,” Robinson said. “The turf is also safer because the surface is more consistent than a dirt or grass field.”

Spirakis, however, argues that playing on a turfed softball field is unorthodox and not beneficial to the playing style of the game.

“Softball is played with a dirt infield, which can be seen on nearly all college campuses and at the fields of other schools,” Spirakis wrote. “There is no evidence that  [turf] will save water or reduce maintenance, as the district claims.”

Despite the softball team’s protests, the district is still moving forward with the renovation. The upper field, softball field and the walkway to the tennis courts and football field are currently closed for the construction.

“The district refuses to listen. All our complaints fall on deaf ears,” Spirakis wrote in the letter to the Los Gatos Weekly. “We have actively expressed our dislike for the plan, but the district continues to tell us that they will waste the money whether we like it or not.”

According to Robinson, the school has contacted other schools that have already made the switch to turf. The administration discovered that most schools that did not turf the whole softball field went back to do so because having a combination of surfaces was inconvenient.  

“I was surprised by the letter, because I’m happy to sit down and speak with any student or team about any issue,” Robinson said. “Not one softball player ever said a word to me about the field.”

The team also expressed concerns about whether lights would be installed for evening or night games.

“Lights will be installed, but we won’t play many night games,” Robinson said. “The lights give us the ability to practice a little later when multiple sports have to use the fields.”

With construction irreversible at this point, only time will tell how the players react to the turf when they begin to play on it next spring.

“I appreciate their thoughts and ideas, but [the softball team] came very late in the process,” said Robinson. “I have to look out for what’s best for the future of our teams and school.  While there might be disagreement with my decision from some, I still have to do what I believe is in the best interest of SHS.”

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