The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Panthers softball prepares for upcoming season amid field renovation

City College softball pitcher Ava Seguin pitches during a scrimmage against Butte College on Nov. 17, 2023. Photo credit: Jada Trail /
City College softball pitcher Ava Seguin pitches during a scrimmage against Butte College on Nov. 17, 2023. Photo credit: Jada Trail / [email protected]

The Panthers softball team will have a newly renovated field ahead of their upcoming season, and on Friday, Nov. 17 they had their first chance to play a scrimmage on it against Butte College. Their official season, however, begins in late January.

The Nov. 17 game was notable in that it was, “the first and only contest held on the new field this fall,” according to head coach Megan Koumelis.

The non-traditional contest was also the last of several the team played this fall. During this period, the team traveled to several other local campuses. Scores and stats are not kept during these contests, according to Koumelis, and the matches serve more as a chance for the teams to practice and experience different venues. 

Per the team’s Instagram page, these included games against UC Davis, the University of the Pacific, Merced College and two at Sacramento State. “It is always exciting to play at four-year universities with their typically pristine facilities and electric atmospheres,” Koumelis commented on the experience.

City College softball player Diana Hull hits the ball on Nov. 17, 2023, in a scrimmage against Butte College. Photo credit: Jada Trail / [email protected]

The field renovation is mostly finished, with the last details expected to be completed before the upcoming season begins. According to Koumelis, the items remaining to be completed are “our fence, backstop, and bullpen backstop padding to be installed,” crucial to player safety, “and to have the electricity to our scoreboard fixed/rerouted,” which will enhance crowd engagement during games.

The most obvious difference between the old field and the new one is that the old field was constructed of grass and dirt whereas the new field is primarily composed of artificial turf. This gives the new field a cleaner, more modern look, but also offers some practical advantages. 

For one thing, artificial turf offers a smoother, more consistent texture compared with grass, as well as less demanding maintenance requirements. Perhaps the most important improvement, however, is the new turf’s resilience to unpredictable weather, which can make games entirely unplayable.

Weather events have been a major issue for the playability of Panthers home games recently. “Last spring we had a historical amount of rain that interfered with our playing season quite a bit and we are really looking forward to being able to play our spring 24 scheduled games as is,” said Koumelis, adding, “We are not going to have games delayed, rescheduled or canceled due to field conditions from the weather.”

The distinction between grass and artificial turf is largely a matter of preference. Some players prefer the more natural, traditional feel of a grass field, like the old softball field or City College’s current baseball field, Union Stadium. However, the maintenance of such a field is constant, as well as labor and resource-intensive.

Koumelis credits the work of Head Groundskeeper Greg Miller and Assistant Coach Rich Moore for keeping the old field in such good shape. The two worked in conjunction, with Miller primarily responsible for the maintenance of the grass outfield while Moore focused on the infield. 

Moore has been coaching Panthers softball since 2012 and has been given the unofficial title of “facility maintenance manager,” according to Koumelis. In describing his tireless efforts to maintain the old field she recalled he would work the infield daily, with tasks such as raking, dragging, and claying as well as “painting the dugouts [and] fixing any equipment that needed tending … all on top of his coaching role with our team.”

Due to the construction process, the team had to get creative in order to stay in playing shape without practicing on their home field. From the second week of the fall 2023 semester, the team practiced on the softball field at Curtis Park, before resuming practice on the new field when it became usable on Oct. 24. There was a bit of an adjustment period at first, as the team readied the Curtis Park field for use. 

“The first few days of practice out at Curtis Park we actually had to have the girls take cups and walk the field and pick up chunks of rocks, metal, and glass to do whatever we could to make sure it was safe to play on,” Koumelis said. 

The team was able to use City College’s functional baseball field Monday through Wednesday to run and stretch, as well as practice hitting in the batting cages. They would then gather their gear and carpool to Curtis Park for defensive practice. On Thursdays, they would practice only at Curtis Park and stay at City College on Fridays to practice hitting in the cages.

Although Koumelis expressed the difficulty of having to transfer all the team’s gear regularly to Curtis Park, for the most part, she says, “the residents of Curtis Park were very welcoming and cheerful to be around, some residents would watch our practices and thank the team for taking care of the field. It was nice hearing such comments from the neighborhood residents … thanking us for bringing some life back into the softball field.”

City College Freshman Jenna Potter steps up to the plate, preparing to make a swing on Nov. 17, 2023 in a scrimmage against Butte College. Photo credit: Jada Trail / [email protected]

The team finished last year’s season, according to the Panthers’ athletics website, with a record of 27 wins, 14 losses and 1 tie, including a home field record of 15 wins and 4 losses. They compete in the Big 8 Conference, where they have won nine championships since 2005, and are also four-time state champions, according to banners proudly displayed at the new softball field’s entrance. 

The team will seek to build on this legacy during the upcoming season. They will host a double-header Jan. 27, facing the College of the Siskiyous’ Eagles at 10 a.m. and College of the Sequoias’ Giants at 2 p.m.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Express

Your donation will support the student journalists of Sacramento City College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Express

Comments (0)

All The Express Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *