Carrington gets $75,000 for baseball, softball field updates – Jamestown Sun

CARRINGTON – In hindsight, 2020 probably wasn’t the best time to embark on a groundbreaking project, but Randy Hooey and the Carrington Parks and Recreation Department went headlong anyway.

“This project — we probably couldn’t have started it at a worse time,” said Hooey, Carrington’s park board director. “It was right when COVID started and costs started to go up, but we’re trying to do what we can do and it’s really moving forward. Lots of exciting things are happening at our park.”

Almost three years ago, Hooey and the Carrington Park Board approved a baseball and softball field renovation project at Carrington’s City Park. The team laid the groundwork two years ago and has steadily progressed towards the ultimate goal ever since.

Most recently, in May, the board received $75,000 through a Garrison Diversion Grant to help with the updates and renovations.

“We just applied for the Garrison Diverson Scholarship based on our baseball and softball diamond renovations,” Hooey said. “It’s a matching grant, so we just applied what we had left of the diamonds and it was enough to maximize the matching funds.”

While Hooey saw the Garrison Diversion Grant as “a good chunk of money,” he said it’s really a small drop in the ocean when you consider the ultimate cost of a project that took more than two years to complete.

“We’ve been fundraising for this for three years,” Hooey said. “We have received other grants and many donations. Everything that has already been done has nothing to do with this grant – it is moving forward.”

Looking back over two years, the most urgent need of Hooey and the park board saw was the safety hazards surrounding the fields themselves. Volunteers replaced fencing around the three existing fields and added mesh backstops. Workers are also building shelters for the fields.

That’s not all.

“At the same time as we were talking about updating the fence, we decided to take it a step further and change the direction of the diamonds,” Hooey said. “We also added a Cal Ripken-sized diamond with a grass infield on it.”

Cal Ripken’s field has been built, but it’s not ready for competition. Hooey said that by changing the direction of the diamonds, the park took on a more complex feel — something he hopes will attract teams from across the state.

New shelters for softball players are still under construction at City Park in Carrington as seen on Thursday 9th June 2022.

John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

“We want to be able to host state tournaments and we want the ability to host tournaments mid-season,” Hooey said. “We want to take advantage of our central location within the state and invite teams from across the state to play against each other.

“Teams on the east side of the state cannot play teams from the west side of the state. For economic and geographic reasons, this simply doesn’t happen. Our goal is to continue hosting and growing the tournaments we are.”

Hooey said the fields are large enough to accommodate all levels of play. The uniform size makes hosting a tournament easier, since teams can compete on two or even three fields at the same time.

While things are progressing well at the complex, there is still a long way to go before the project is considered complete.

“We want to have everything ready by the fall of 2023,” Hooey said. “Unfortunately, this could shift a little if costs rise. You never know because everything that is done depends on the money. Also, most of our work has been done by volunteers. Those things are really the driving factors.”

In addition to the renovations to the field itself, the Board has approved the construction of a new concession stand and bathrooms. Grandstands and batting cages are also on the construction to-do list.

Over at the American Legion baseball field, fans can also expect a new scoreboard.

“I think whatever facilities are, they’re a huge contributor to success because they create a lot of interest and excitement within the programs,” Hooey said. “When you have beautiful things, it really seems like excitement increases as a community, as a participant, as a trainer and as a parent.

“You have more drive to get out there and play. The drive to succeed is more easily achieved when you have more numbers and excitement in your program.”

Carrington currently has approximately 180 children who participate in summer T-ball, softball, or American Legion programs.

“We have a lot of kids out there right now and that’s great to see,” Hooey said. “We definitely want to keep and increase these numbers.”

Carrington Softball Green Home Plate 060922.jpg

The area around home plate is lined with stakes at a new softball diamond in Carrington, as seen Thursday, June 9, 2022.

John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

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