The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Choosing Float Drags for Your Infield Skin !

Choosing the right float drag for your infield can be confusing. Actually, it’s smart to have a couple different types of float drags on hand so you are properly equipped for your dragging duties no matter what the conditions are. All of the float options below will leave a nice professional finish on your infield skin. To help you understand what combination of float drags may be best for you, we have assembled the following summary listing the benefits and uses of each drag.


Steel Mat Drag

Beacon Steel Mat Drag

  • Excellent for any type of infield skin surface
  • Able to pulverize soil chunks
  • Helps to “screen out” small rocks and pebbles on infield surface
  • Can help to cut down high spots and fill low spots
  • If using one large enough to tow, it is suggested to add a drag bar ahead of the drag to help redistribute any soil or topdressing piles on the infield surface

Rigid Steel Mat Drag

Beacon Rigid Steel Mat Hand Drag

  • Terrific for in-game dragging
  • Works well with any type of infield skin surface
  • Will pulverize soil chunks
  • Helps to “screen out” small rocks and pebbles on infield surface
  • Can help to cut down high spots and fill low spots

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Pro Rigid Steel Mat Drag

Beacon Pro Rigid Steel Mat Hand Drag

  • Only for use with infield skins that have a topdressing layer on the surface
  • Reduces the amount of material transported within the drag mesh
  • Great option for in-game dragging

Cocoa Mat Drags

Beacon Cocoa Mat Drags

  • These are the best drags to use in a damp or somewhat wet infield skin situation
  • Should only be used on topdressed infield surfaces
  • Does not transport infield soil, so there’s no big pile left at the end of the drag
  • If using one large enough to tow, it is suggested to add a drag bar ahead of the drag to help redistribute any soil or topdressing piles on the infield surface
  • Smaller cocoa mats/mops are excellent for in-game dragging

Drag Broom

Drag Broom

  • Works best on infields that have a topdressing layer on the surface as this tool will not pulverize soil chunks
  • A good option when infield conditions are damp or somewhat wet
  • Lightweight tool makes it a great choice for in-game dragging

Buy Now


Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Paul has led Technical Sales Support at Beacon Athletics since the summer of 2000. In 2012, Paul authored and oversaw the launch of “Groundskeeper University”, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Over the years, Paul has donated thousands of hours working with West Madison Little League, which also plays a critical role in the research and development for many of Beacon’s innovative field maintenance tools.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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These 25 foods caught our eyes at Progressive Field concession stands, so we ordered them and ranked them for Indians fans. !

The fix for sagging, ineffective nets. !

In-Line Backstop Netting

COASTAL CHRISTIAN HS | WILMINGTON, NC

July 18, 2019
Like many schools, Coastal Christian High School was confident a local contractor would capably install their new backstop netting system. They had worked with Beacon Athletics to design the system — just like ones we have designed for schools, colleges and professional teams across the country. Our backstop nets truly deliver an MLB-quality experience. But, like any installation process, even the best design and highest quality parts rely on a contractor who shares the same commitment to quality to get you the best result.

Beacon Athletics

Unfortunately for Coastal Christian, the initial installation did not go as expected. A Beacon employee was onsite and noticed the nets were sagging, likely due to improper installation. They contacted Coastal’s athletic director, Mike Scheffel, to discuss the options. We suggested one of our ballfield project consultants could step in to help fix the problems. After a thorough review of the situation, our consultant concluded that due to their contractor installing the poles incorrectly, a new net would be needed. But the good news was he would be able to install the new net in a single day and then make necessary adjustments to bring the backstop system up to the professional quality they had expected. (Scroll down for before/after comparisons)

With the support of Coastal’s Head of School Brenda McCombie, the athletic department moved ahead with our plan for fixing the subpar installation. Within 3 weeks the new net was fabricated and our installation consultant was on-site at Coastal Christian. Not only was the new net installed correctly to our professional standards, but the consultant also trained Scheffel’s staff on how to raise & lower the netting from the ground. With the school located near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, our unique heavy-duty winch system was exactly the combination of ease and strength that Coastal needs to standup to the sometimes rough Atlantic weather.

Scheffel and McCombie were extremely happy with the result. “We were very disappointed with the way the initial installation turned out. We weren’t sure where to turn. But with Beacon’s help, we were able to work with their consultant to truly rescue our ballfield,” Scheffel “When we do our next ballpark project, we are going to make sure we include a Beacon consultant in the mix to work with a local contractor. We know now how important it is that Beacon is brought in to oversee the installation and make sure it is done the right way.”

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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USA Softball and USSSA to co-host The U.S. Games !

USA Softball and USSSA to co-host The U.S. Games !

USA Softball and USSSA to co-host The U.S. Games !

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2019
OKLAHOMA CITY – USA Softball is proud to announce a new event held in partnership with the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) as two of the nation’s largest sports organizations join forces for grassroots development. USA Softball, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, and USSSA, the world’s largest multi-sport organization, will partner to host The U.S. Games, a prestigious girls’ fast pitch tournament that will take place at USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera, Fla. on January 18-20, 2020.

“USA Softball takes pride in serving the sport of softball as the National Governing Body in the United States,” said USA Softball Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Craig Cress. “As such, it is vital for the growth of our sport to unite, rather than compete, alongside softball organizations to provide as many opportunities for individuals to play, coach or umpire the game they love. By partnering with USSSA, who shares our passion and dedication to the development of the game, it is our hope that we can foster in a new era for our sport in which the softball community stands united.”

The U.S. Games brings USA Softball and USSSA together as co-hosts of the event, a 12-Under (12U) and 14-Under (14U) tournament.  The U.S. Games will feature eight teams in each age division for a total of 16 total teams for the inaugural event. Teams will qualify for the U.S. Games through their finish at the 2019 USA Elite Select World Fastpitch Championship and USA Softball Girls’ 12U and 14U Fast Pitch Class A National Championship.

“USSSA is excited to make this announcement with USA Softball as we believe this is another step towards growing the sport of softball,” said USSSA CEO Don DeDonatis III. “We look forward to hosting the inaugural U.S. Games this January and for the opportunities this event will create for years to come.  Both USSSA and USA Softball have two of the best softball venues that can provide a unique championship atmosphere for our teams and fans. We look forward to working with USA Softball and showing how our two organizations can work together for the benefit of the game and the athletes playing it.”

USSSA’s new Space Coast Complex in Viera, Fla. will play host to the inaugural U.S. Games. The complex boasts 15 AstroTurf fields including five NCAA Softball regulation fields and a Fastpitch Stadium that features 1000 seat capacity, press box and HD Videoboard. The entire complex is wired with 4K broadcast capabilities and will feature the live stream of games on the USSSALive.com platform. The complex is located 45 minutes from Orlando and 15 minutes from Florida’s Space Coast with its 72 miles of shoreline.

A future edition of The U.S. Games, 16-Under and 18-Under, will be held at historic USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex, which is currently in the final phase of a $27.5 million renovation. Most recent renovations, which were unveiled during the 2019 NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS), included the demolition to the outer entrance and press box area to make way for a new stadium entrance. A three-story press box also features new interview rooms with tunnels leading from the team locker rooms and a broadcast booth. The installation of upper-deck seating has begun, which will increase the capacity by an additional 4,000 seats.

About USA Softball
USA Softball is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, USA Softball sanctions competition through a network of Local Associations, which includes all 50 states and select metro associations.  USA Softball is dedicated to providing people of all ages the opportunity to play the game they love at a variety of levels by offering recreational, league, tournament and competitive play for fast pitch, slow pitch and modified pitch.  USA Softball annually conducts thousands of tournaments throughout the country including over 100 National Championships.  The USA Softball umpire program is among the nation’s largest and are widely known as the best trained umpires in the game.

As the NGB for the sport of softball, USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in events such as the Olympics, Pan American Games, World Championships and other international and domestic events. For more information on USA Softball, including its founding and history as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), please visit, www.USASoftball.com.

About USSSA
USSSA is headquartered in Viera, Florida at USSSA Space Coast Complex. USSSA is the world’s largest multi-sport athletic organization with over 4 million participants competing in 14 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information about USSSA, visit www.usssa.com and follow USSSA on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

USSSA Fastpitch offers a place to play for every fastpitch player across the country through our sanctioned events offered for teams and individual athletes. Through our classification system, USSSA levels the playing field for our 30,000+ registered teams at the league and tournament level. USA Elite Select, the elite division of USSSA Fastpitch, offers teams a qualification process for the World Fastpitch Championship. The All American Program and Select 30 Program within USSSA Fastpitch are National Programs for individual athletes. Additionally, USSSA owns the USSSA Pride, an affiliate of the National Pro Fastpitch league. USSSA Fastpitch strives to be the most trusted resource in the game for its athletes, coaches, parents, umpires and directors.

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Space Needs of a Ballfield !

 

How much space will you need?

Beacon Athletics

When looking for space to build a ballfield or a complex of fields, there are several factors that should be considered during the planning stage. In many cases, it is not just the ball diamond that is being built. Typically there are additional features to consider such as, dugouts, bathrooms, concession areas, storage facilities, bleachers, drainage swales, parking and even buffer zones that may need to be built as well.

For the ballfield portion, the table below gives you rough estimates for the area needed for various sized ballfields allowing adequate space for field amenities such as bleachers, dugouts, fences, lights and scoreboards.

Remember, your parking lot is a piece of the puzzle that can use up a lot of space in a hurry. You can use 20 spaces as the starting point for the minimum amount of parking at a ballfield. 20 spaces will need approximately 0.3 acre. For each additional parking space you’ll need to add another 0.015 acre per space.

Baseball Field Space Needs
90 ft bases with 400 ft fence 4.5 acres
80 ft bases with 315 ft fence 3 acres
70 ft bases with 275 ft fence 2 acres
60 ft bases with 215 ft fence 1.5 acres
Softball Field Space Needs
65 ft bases with 275 ft fence 2.5 acres
60 ft bases with 200 ft fence 1.5 acres

Addressing Fan Safety

Multi-field complexes are often planned with little thought regarding protection of spectators. Sometimes fields are squeezed tight together with a bare minimum of common space between fields. Fans watching a game on one field can be subject to stray foul balls from other fields that are right behind them. These is a common issue with many multi-field complexes. Now, with recent line-drive injuries to fans at MLB ballparks, more attention than ever is being paid to protecting fans at all levels. Beacon is an excellent resource for netting options from local ballparks all the up to professional venues. We have more info regarding protective netting available for you here: Beacon Netting Solutions for Keeping Fans Safe

Beacon Athletics

There are three ways you can address multi-field safety. The first way would be to install an overhead netting system to protect the fans. A second idea would be to address this potential problem in the planning stages when simple realignment of fields can help to increase the amount of room between fields, reducing foul ball risk. Your third option involves a little bit of the first two options, and in most cases will prove to be your best overall plan.

Start by planning your common areas to be as open as possible between fields. Then, use a combination of barrier protective netting and deciduous trees. Planting trees along the common areas along with netting will greatly reduce the risk of spectator injury. Barrier netting will deflect the lower flying line drive foul balls while trees will become a living, growing ball deflection system for the higher foul pops entering common areas. The older the trees get between fields, the bigger and more dense the natural deflection system will be. Additionally, trees will also provide much appreciated shade for those hot summer days and they’ll serve as a wind breaker on gusty days. They’ll improve fan comfort and provide some foul ball protection while at the same time providing a more visually appealing park-like atmosphere.

Managing Drainage

Probably the most critical part of an athletic field is its surface drainage. There are two main styles of surface grade that commonly are used for controlling surface water removal. The first and most popular is called the “turtle back” where the base of the pitcher’s mound is the highest point on the field and elevations fall away from that point in all directions much like the back of a turtle’s shell. On this type of field, the infield is typically graded to a 0.5 – 1% slope. The outfield and foul areas should be graded at a 1 – 1.5% slope. This is the quickest and most efficient method to shed water off a ballfield.

Another, less popular option involves having the whole field tilt from one side of the field to the opposite side. This type of drainage is called “sheet flow” drainage — like a sheet of water sliding off the side of a hill. This surface drainage will work provided the home plate area is at the highest point of the slope. You want to avoid water draining toward the infield and home plate — it should always move away from the infield. Sheet flow will drain slower than the turtle back method because the water will have a longer distance to travel before exiting the field.

With all of the above in mind, try to find land for your ballfield that will require the least amount of rough grading in order to satisfy one of the above drainage styles. Drainage swales and/or storm drains along the edges of a ball diamond in “out-of-play” areas should be used to carry the surface drained water away from the site.

Get in Touch

If you would like help in planning your ballpark, let our team of engineers help guide you through the process. We’re here to help you make sure you avoid costly mistakes and see that in the end you have a great ballpark your community will take pride in.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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Replacing That Old Chain-Link Fence !

FEATURED PROJECT: Tie-Back Backstop Netting System.

▶ Episcopal School of Baton Rouge | BATON ROUGE, LA


Their existing chain-link fence had reached the end of its useful life and they knew it was time for an upgrade. A private school in Baton Rouge, the Episcopal School decided to include a new backstop in their plans to renovate their baseball and softball fields.

Beacon Athletics

Beacon’s Project Services team became involved when the school’s contractor questioned their architectural plans. After consulting with the contractor (Morgan Signs) and school officials, we were able to demonstrate how the original design plans were significantly over-engineered. Original plans included an excessive number of steel poles, increasing the cost of the project. The poles would have also left significant sight obstructions for spectators.

We worked with the contractor and school to design a tie-back net system that minimized the number of poles needed to significantly reduce the cost of the project. And we were able to suggest a system that would cleanly integrate with existing dugouts, while at the same time providing additional coverage above the dugouts.Beacon Athletics

Given the complexity of the renovation, we deployed an on-site consultant during the final net installation to ensure the Episcopal School and Morgan Signs were satisfied with their end result. The integration with existing dugouts was particularly complex. That aspect required multiple net panels of varying sizes and multiple cable connections to maintain the integrity of the netting system, while providing a necessary safety feature along the baselines. Our consultant guided Morgan Signs through the complex installation, which helped them to complete the project on time and on budget.

We’re very proud of the flexibility and complexity of our netting solutions. Our Project Services team brings unmatched experience and expertise, and with the help of our on-site consultant, the contractor who initially came to us for help was able to successfully navigate a complex installation, creating a beautiful ballfield experience.

Learn About Project Services 5 Factors for Fan Safety

Chain-link can't compare.

Chain-link fence just can’t compare to the vastly improved sight lines & safety.

Better sightlines everywhere

With giant poles behind them, fans enjoy better sight lines from all angles.

Dugout Integration

The existing dugouts were carefully factored in with varying net sizes.

Beacon Athletics

Beacon Athletics

We’ve been in your shoes. So it’s about giving you what you need, when you need it. To live up to “the ultimate ballfield resource” it goes beyond just delivering superior products. It’s also about giving you on-demand resources that will help make your job easier. That’s why we created Ballfields.com and GroundskeeperU.com. Whatever you need, think Beacon.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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