LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The NFCA is pleased to announce the inaugural winners of the 2018 Turface Athletics / NFCA Field of the Year award. Garnering recognition for the brand-new honor are Davis Diamond (Texas A&M), Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex (Davenport), Taylor Field (East Texas Baptist), Grizzly Softball Complex (Georgia Gwinnett), Wade Kirk Field (Vernon College), CBC Softball Complex (Columbia Basin College), Mt. SAC Softball Field (Mt. San Antonio College) and VHS Softball Swamp (Vicksburg High School).
This award, made possible by NFCA Official Sponsor Turface Athletics, recognizes the top fields/stadiums in the nation for their flawless grounds maintenance and exceptional playing surfaces. The winners are selected by the NFCA Awards Committee.
NCAA Division I: Davis Diamond, Texas A&M
Davis Diamond is the new home of Texas A&M softball. Opened on April 27, 2018, Davis Diamond holds 2,000 fans (chairback seating) and includes club level seating as well as two luxury suites. Located a short walk from their third base dugout, the Aggies can easily access a new locker room, video room and training room. The project also includes a 6,744 square foot indoor hitting facility with four batting cages, along with staff offices and locker rooms. Additionally, the press box features two radio booths, a TV booth and a writing press area. The concourse is highlighted by two concession stands, a team store, guest services and restrooms down the first- and third-base lines to enhance the game day experience for fans.
Due to the tireless efforts of the field crew (Craig Potts and Jake Johnson), the 2018 Aggie Softball seniors were able to play their final home games on Davis Diamond. Potts, Johnson and their crew worked vigorously to make sure it would be ready at any given time, keeping two softball fields game-ready for two months.
NCAA Division II: Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex, Davenport University
The first home field for Davenport softball, the Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex was dedicated on March 20, 2013. It additionally provides the first home facilities for DU baseball and tennis. The 200-seat softball field features locker rooms attached to both dugouts, batting cages, lights, press box with radio/video rooms and a coaches office.
Located in the northern region of the country, the complex allows Davenport to practice and compete until the snow arrives and as soon as it is gone. The on-site locker rooms, heated dugouts, field lights provide a great student-athlete experience.
NCAA Division III: Taylor Field, East Texas Baptist (pictured front)
Constructed in 1998, Taylor field has continually made improvements since 2005 to ensure a great atmosphere for both the fan and the student-athlete. Lights were added in 2005 and a covered outdoor batting cage in 2011. There was a big facility upgrade in 2017, which was highlighted by the installation of artificial turf in the infield and outfield, enhanced padded walls, backstop netting, stands with handicapped access in left and right field and a berm for additional seating in center field. A VIP suite with eight outdoor chairback seats was added below the press box.
Last winter a new 3,000 square foot clubhouse was constructed, featuring coaches offices, a 32-person locker room and study/fellowship area. Taylor Field is considered one of the top NCAA Division III facilities in the country, which features a great atmosphere for both the fan and student-athlete.
NAIA: Grizzly Softball Complex, Georgia Gwinnett
The Grizzly Softball Complex opened in the spring of 2013. The facility accommodates up to 600 fans and features a natural-grass field, consisting of Bermuda and rye, full dugouts, complete with restrooms and a climate-controlled press box. Over the last three years, there have been gradual improvements made to enhance the facility structurally and aesthetically with new backstop padding, an artificial turf halo behind home plate, all netting and fence pad replaced, and the entire park enclosed with windscreen.
The Grizzly Softball Complex is one of the top fields in the NAIA as its playing surface rivals many surfaces across the sport. The clay is laser graded each winter to ensure the crown of the field remains in order to maximize drainage. The main caretaker for the field, John Ihlenburg, has over 30 years of experience on various baseball and softball surfaces. His attention to detail with the care of the field is unparalleled.
NJCAA DI: Wade Kirk Field, Vernon College (pictured inside story)
Home of Vernon College Softball, Wade Kirk Field was constructed in 1995 with a clay-based infield, common Bermuda outfield and 50-foot long above-ground dugouts. Since 2015, new additions include – a back stop wall, netting and padding, bullpens, custom windscreen, FairPlay custom scoreboard, four outfield flagpoles, 25x30 foot locker room attached to home dugout and Bermuda grass in front of dugouts and infield back arch.
The field at Vernon College received a complete facelift in the fall. Northwest Texas winds blow at speeds up to 40 mph, but Vernon’s one-man crew (volunteer assistant coach Ron Frost) has managed to keep the dirt and playing surface soft and manageable despite the winds and droughts.
Cal JC: Mt. SAC Softball Field, Mt. San Antonio College
Mt SAC Softball Field, which hosted the 2018 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship, was built in 2004 and provides seating for 250 fans. It features lights, new netting and padding, four batting cages, spacious dugouts, home and visitor bullpens and new scoreboard. The defending CCCAA state champions will add a new windscreen, outfield padding and covered batting cages for the upcoming 2019 season.
A hard-working grounds crew takes immense pride in preparing the field every single day as the grass and infield dirt always look impeccable and flawless.
NWAC: CBC Softball Complex, Columbia Basin College
Opened in 2005, CBC Softball Complex is home to the Columbia Basin College softball program. Highlighted by new dugouts and locker rooms, facility upgrades over the last four years include the addition of restrooms, a snack bar, turf bullpens on each side, scoreboard and a full-field windscreen. It is a spectator-friendly venue that offers a great view of the game where ever you sit. The field is in pristine shape and is well taken care of on a daily basis.
High School: VHS Softball Swamp, Vicksburg (Miss.) High School
Home of Vicksburg High School, the VHS Softball Swamp was completely renovated by coach Brian Ellis, players, parents and other community members. Complete with lights, Bermuda grass and Better Baseball netting, the renovation was finished in 2014 thanks to fundraising, community volunteers and about $30,000 in materials and labor from the school district. Previously playing on city fields, VHS has had a place to call home since the fall of 2014. It features an infield surface that rivals many college and high school programs around the Vicksburg area and it has played a major role in growing the softball program.