$1.7 million grant will open up year-round use of 10 ballfields in this coastal Alabama city !

Daphne Sports Complex

The entry into the Daphne Sports Complex in Daphne, Ala. The park opened in 2019, and consists of 11 ball fields. A $1.7 million federal grant through the American Rescue Plan Act will help fund the installation of recreational turf on 10 of the facility’s grass fields. (John Sharp/jsharp@al.com).

The baseball and softball fields are quiet at Daphne’s 3-year-old sports complex this month. On Wednesday, the only evening activity consisted of a few families gathering for batting practice.

“The whole month of July, we don’t use the fields at all,” Daphne Mayor Robin LeJeune said. “We need them to rest. This enables us to have more use of them (in the fall) and not cancel tournaments.”

City officials are hopeful a $1.7 million federal grant through the American Rescue Plan Act will allow the city to use the 11 fields at the Daphne Sports Complex year-round.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced Thursday that the city was awarded the grant “to boost sports tourism” by installing recreational turf at the city’s sports complex.

LeJeune said the federal money will be partnered with approximately $600,000 in a city match to finance the project. He hopes the entire allotment will enable the city to install recreational turf to all the ballfields.

“When we have heavy rains, we’ve had to cancel tournaments,” LeJeune said. “This enables us to have more use of the fields and not have to cancel tournaments. It also takes some of the maintenance pressure off (city workers) in keeping these fields in good health due to the amount of play them get on them. That’s a hard struggle for us with all of the amounts play on these fields.”

LeJeune said the complex’s T-ball field is the only one with recreational turf. He said the project will consist of installing the turf on one field at a time, and he hopes it can be completed by next summer.

“This will help continue make the improvements and to get more use out of the fields and then, in turn, provides more of an economic driver for the city’s hotels and restaurants,” LeJeune said.

Indeed, the grant’s application involved the city’s hotels. LeJeune said hotel managers wrote letters of support for the project, given the popularity of sports tourism and the visitors it brings into the cities like Daphne.
Economic development officials, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville and U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl, among others, also wrote letters in support that were included in the grant application.
“Anyone we could ask for help, we sure did,” LeJeune said. “We had city staff helping to write the grant. It was a group effort to show the economic driver that the sports complex really is.”

Carl, R-Mobile, in a statement said the money assists a fast-growing city in Alabama’s fastest-growing county. Daphne, according to U.S. Census figures, has a population of 28,777 residents, and has grown 33% since 2010.

Carl said the money “gives Daphne much-needed resources to meet growth demands and create new opportunities for the coastal Alabama region for generations to come.”

Daphne Sports Complex

A look at the Daphne Sports Complex on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, Daphne, Ala. (John Sharp/jsharp@al.com).

The project also highlights an evolving park that has seen considerable change since the city purchased 123 acres behind a Walmart store in 2006.

The 70-acre sports complex is located on Park Drive and has seen some additions within the past 12 months: A new all-inclusive playground was opened last November, and an adjacent splash pad opened in May.
LeJeune said the city will open a trail system behind the ballparks this fall. He said the trail’s length is approximately 2 miles through wooded areas.
“It will be really great in that it gives us a true place for cross country to have races and it’s a great place to be part of nature,” LeJeune said.
He added, “We’re adding pieces to (the complex) all the time. That’s the great thing about the sports complex and the vision we’ve had to get it built. It’s a continuation of moving forward with an asset of the city.”

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**********************************************************

“NEW” Amateur Sports Added !

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

We Can Save More Money In 2022 !

* ( 26 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, 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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5 Ballfield Maintenance Tips for Midsummer. !

The baseball/softball season is a long one with games played pretty frequently at most ballparks. The Little League fields that I help oversee includes 3 fields — two 60′ and one 90′ diamond. Each of these fields sees approximately 400 events per growing season, including practices, league games, league tournaments, clinics, all-star practices and more. With all this activity, fields can get rundown quickly, especially if maintenance staff is stretched thin. But just a little mid-summer love can go a long way toward maintaining the integrity and aesthetics of the ball field. These five mini projects can pay big dividends.

5 Favorite Ballfield Maintenance Tips for Midseason…

1. Clean-up your turf edges. Many think turf edging is a lot of work but if you keep up with edging (just a few times per year!) it can be a fairly quick job that a couple of crew members can perform in a very short order of time. String your string lines right on the very edge of the grass so you are just trimming off the stragglers that are growing laterally into the skinned area. On curved areas such as the back arc or cutouts, this can be done by eye but it may take a little practice just to get the hang of making a smooth gradual curve. Use a scuffle hoe to take out any other individual rogue turf plants or weeds coming up in the skin areas. My crew at our Little League complex does this once a month and they can complete all 3 fields (two 60s and a 90) in about 5 hours. The sharp clean edges give the fields a professional look. This is also a good time to address any minor lip issues.

topdressing2. Scarify and level infield skin. This is not precision leveling, this is a quick down-and-dirty leveling job used for cutting down the usual high spots and filling in the routine low spots. This can be done easily if you own a three-wheel grooming unit. Simply scarify the infield with the nail drag and follow up with the box blade to do a quick level job. For those that don’t have such a three-wheel groomer, scarify/nail drag your infield and use level boards to redistribute infield material from the typical high spots and deposit the material in the typical low spot areas. Finish by dragging the infield, but use your drag either folded in half or rolled up first to further help leveling, then complete the operation by dragging the infield with the drag fully deployed. Maintaining the surface grade to insure positive surface drainage requires constant vigilance and action to prevent the degradation of your surface grade from getting out of hand. Again, like edging, the more often you do it, the less time it takes and the better your infield skin will perform.

3. Redistribute topdressing on infield skin. If your infield skin utilizes a topdressing material, that material will have a tendency to migrate due to rain, dragging, and play. The topdressing usually ends up on the low side of the infield as surface drainage and gravity will pull it there. On a typically graded infield, that means the topdressing piles up along the back arc of the infield. In order to take full advantage of having a topdressing on your infield, it is best to periodically redistribute the topdressing to insure a consistent thickness across the entire infield skin. This usually involves taking a level board and pulling the accumulated topdressing from the edge of the arc of the infield and pulling inwards and feathering it out all of the way to the high point of the infield skin. An even thickness of topdressing across the infield skin helps to promote a consistent bounce of the ball on the infield surface. On a 60’ diamond with infield grass, this will take 10 – 15 minutes. A 90’ diamond with infield grass can take about 25 – 30 minutes. You can essentially double the time for totally skinned infields of each of the 2 respective sizes.

Beacon Athletics

4. Re-slope the mound. It’s good to pull out your slope gauge and check the front slope of the mound part way through the season. What it typically will reveal is that you may have been keeping up with the main wear areas but were probably slacking on the slower wearing areas between the high wear areas and because of that, the slope becomes inconsistent and out of whack. Clean off all topdressing and spoils on the mound so you can clearly see the condition of the level table at the top of the mound and the front slope. Using a level, add clay wherever low on the table and cut down any high spots with a sharpened iron rake. On the slope, use a mound slope gauge to accurately return the front slope to its proper specifications, adding clay or cutting down as needed. When finished, soak the mound, add new top dressing, and soak again. Then allow to cure somewhat in the sun.

5. Give your home plate area a face lift. Much like the mound, the home plate area will also become all out of whack as well. Sure, you’ll repair the main wear areas, but there are areas that wear much slower and are not typically caught by the human eye day-to-day. Again, sweep all of the topdressing and spoils of and remove from the area you are working. This includes the batter’s boxes, the catcher’s box and the umpire area. More than likely the umpire area is too high and needs to be cut down. This results from the catcher kicking material back with his or her cleats as they get into position and the umpire then stepping on the spoils that were kicked out thereby packing them down and creating a high spot. Use a sharpened iron rake or a weighted x-drag to cut this high area down. Also x-drag all around the clay areas to take down any remaining high areas. Sweep clean again. Now you can see where the clay areas are truly low. Wet the area down and let the water be absorbed into the clay. Add clay and use a rake to spread out evenly and level. Compact with tamps and or a roller to fully flatten out. X-drag the remaining home plate area outside of the clay area. Use a level board to cut down high areas, fill low spots and generally level the entire home plate circle. Add topdressing as needed and finish drag the entire home plate area.

If your fields are anywhere near as busy as ours are at our complex,follow these 5 mid-season ballfield maintenance tips to give them the boost they need to make it through the rest of the season, all while looking sharp and playing true.

Paul Zwaska (contributor)

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul has been a frequent contributor to Beacon’s Ballfield Blog and other resources and products. Among other contributions to Beacon, he authored Groundskeeper University, the pioneering online ballfield maintenance training venue.

**********************************************************

“NEW” Amateur Sports Added !

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

We Can Save More Money In 2022 !

* ( 26 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

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

www.sadlersports.com/soda

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

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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

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

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

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

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE”

Nail Dragging: Why & How !

You likely have heard of the concept of nail dragging if you have worked in baseball as a turf manager or groundskeeper. Perhaps you have been advised, “you should consider nail dragging your dirt once in a while.” Or maybe you have heard more directly, “you gotta nail drag!”

You may ask, “Why should I do that?” With proper watering, raking and dragging techniques, you can certainly have an acceptable infield surface. Working with a nail drag is about taking your infield dirt to a higher level.


Nail Dragging: Time and field expectations

Before jumping into the details of the nail drag and what it can do for you, the questions of time and field expectations come into play.

At the professional level, the game day nail drag process can be very involved and take at least two hours, including finish screen dragging and midday watering. Time management is always very important to our success as baseball groundskeepers. In my case, game day nail dragging happens with spurts of activity, followed by breaks to answer emails or look at weather forecasts. Often on days where we have a 7pm start, I will walk the nail drag across the infield skin for the first pass of the morning starting at 9:30am. I may not be done with my mid-day watering until after 12:30pm. That does not mean I have spent three straight hours on the process. I have other items to manage within that time.

For other levels, one potential scenario for you at your facility is to start nail dragging and get the first pass in, then get away from it and work on the mound or mow some turfgrass. Following that, you can come back to the infield skin and finish from there. Keep in mind that the weather is a big part of the day for your infield skin. A sunny day with low dew points means you can nail drag earlier and faster than a cloudy and humid day. If rain is on the way, that may be a day to skip the nail dragging and just roll to firm up your skin areas, so you are ready to handle some precipitation.

Three reasons when you should nail drag

  1. Field renovation – Here, you are looking at aggressively spiking your infield skin, perhaps to a depth approaching one inch, so you can either prep the skin for re-grading or are working some calcined clay deeper into the profile. This process can occur in the fall, or maybe prior to the season, or perhaps in-season when you have at least a few days prior to play to firm up the surface after you scarify it.
  2. Following a rain event – It’s highly beneficial to get a nail drag onto your infield skin as soon as you can. Remember that regardless of the exact ratio of sand, silt and clay in your infield mix, heavy rain will cause most of the finer sized particles to sink and the coarser sand to rise to the top. This does not leave your field unplayable, but it does diminish the quality of the surface. When the coarser sand particles dominate the upper profile of the infield skin, it tends to play a bit soft and cleats will move more loose material around. So after a rain event, as soon as you can get out there, nail drag…slowly…and the better off you will be going forward.
  3. Game day nail dragging – This is the most precise of the three. Let’s go bit deeper on this one…

Game day nail dragging

To execute a really good nail drag on a game day, the moisture content of the skin needs to be just right. This means, depending on the time of year and your schedule, a heavy soaking of the infield skin late afternoon prior to gameday or the night before is necessary. It takes some time to learn your field, sun patterns and how it takes water. Consider that the post-game watering should be heavy if dry weather is in the forecast.

A big part of your job as a groundskeeper is having a constant awareness of the weather expected over the next 12 to 24 hours.

Also, understand that you will need to go lighter on water where runners take their lead off 1st and 2nd base.

Your goal with watering is to always have moisture all the way down through the infield skin profile. This is achieved by heavy soakings after practice or games. From there, you can manage the moisture in the top half inch of dirt effectively, knowing that your skin is moist down below. Why is this important? The pace and bounce of the baseball correlate to the moisture content of the entire infield skin soil profile. Lightly watering infield dirt for dust control, or appearance, will NOT lead to a high-end surface that produces quality ground balls and hops for your infielders.

First thing in the morning. My preference is to walk a nail drag because it is good exercise and I can really get a feel for the condition of the dirt that way. If you start the day pulling the nail drag with your infield tractor, go very slow to start, and drive at a consistent speed. The dirt should be moist so that nail dragging will get all the cleat marks scarified about a quarter inch deep. If you go too fast, the dirt will start to ball up on the nails and you will have to keep cleaning the drag off.

Regardless of the type of utility vehicle or trap rake you use to nail drag, remember to go slowly at first. As with all dragging of the infield, driving at a consistent speed is very important. The result of the surface will always be smoother if you drive at a constant pace. As the nail dragging process continues in the morning, you can begin to increase your speed as you go over the skin in different directions.

The two reasons for nail dragging on a game day are:

  1. To get all the cleat and traffic marks cleaned up from the previous day
  2. To ‘set up’ the infield surface for the game.

The term ‘set up’ refers to the tractor and the nail drag firming up the skin as you work on it. For this reason, I prefer treaded tires rather than knobby tires on the trap rake (picture below). The tires will help to firm up the surface, as will the repetition of the nail drag going over the dirt. In high traffic areas where infielders play and the lead off area around 2nd base, I will continue to drive the nail drag over those spots in tight figure-eight patterns to help firm up the dirt. The entire infield surface should be nail dragged in two or three directions, and small areas that need attention can get extra passes. Once you have worked everything to your satisfaction, you can screen drag to finish the surface prior to your mid-day watering. I advise using a stiff direction drag, the 6’ x 18” model is ideal, as long as it covers the wheel width of your tractor.

The watering after this process depends on the time of your game that day or evening, and many weather concerns as well. Consider the sky cover, wind, dew points, and any rain in the forecast, then adjust your plans accordingly.

**********************************************************

“NEW” Amateur Sports Added !

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

We Can Save More Money In 2022 !

* ( 26 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

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

www.sadlersports.com/soda

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

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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

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

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada

Since 1981”

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

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE”