Southern Illinois University, Carbondale is the college/university winner and Chelsea (Mich.) High School is the high school winner in the NFCA/Turface Field Maintenance awards program for the 2003 season.
SIU coach Kerri Blaylock and Chelsea coach Kim Reichard will receive their awards at the 2003 NFCA National Convention in Montgomery, Texas.
SIU's newest athletic facility, Charlotte West Stadium/Rochman Field was dedicated on March 1, 2002. A 500-seat grandstand and a fully equipped press box highlight the $2.7 million facility.
The field consists of a four-way sports turf mix outfield with a Kentucky bluegrass primary and Crimson Stone Ultimate Series infield, which is illuminated by a state-of-the-art lighting system for night games.
The facility is home to over 45 softball games a year, including intercollegiate games and high school regional and sectional tournaments.
One of the top high school facilities in the Midwest, the Chelsea High School Softball Field seats 200 and features a underground irrigation system and an infield that is maintained daily by the Bulldog softball squad.
A state-of-the art scoreboard, as well as a press box also compliments the playing surface, which is home to about 40 softball games a year.
Regional winners are as follows:
University of South Carolina, Spartanburg
Construction on the USC Spartanburg Softball Field in the summer of 2001 with funding provided from a private donor. The donor and USCS head coach Chris Hawkins were responsible for nearly 85 percent of the facility's construction -- the field, dugouts, seating area and parts of the press box. The facility seats 1,000 and will host the 2004 Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
Wheaton College (Mass.)
A small private school that competes at the Division III level and has to constantly battle New England weather, Wheaton College is a regional winner for 2003. The team does approximately 90 percent of the field maintenance, from dragging and watering the infield to mowing. The facility also is home of Wheaton's field hockey team during the fall.
"Our team goes above and beyond what most teams are responsible for," said Wheaton head coach Gina Loudenburg. "It really makes them appreciate our facility."
For 15 years, Stetson's softball team played at a city park. Now, they play at one of the top facilities in Florida. Hatter head coach Frank Griffin raised enough money to cover 100 percent of the facility's cost. But his work was not done. After necessary fencing, infield and concrete were in place, Griffin built a backstop, dugouts, bullpens and batting cages. He maintains the sod and the Old South look of the facility makes it uniquely Stetson.
University of Arkansas
Lady 'Back Yard is again a regional winner, after claiming regional accolades in 2000 and 2002. The facility is primarily home to the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks, but also welcomes high school state championships and all-star games. The Bermuda grass stretches 200 feet down the lines and 225 feet to center, and the crushed rock infield leads up to sunken dugouts. The facility boasts seating for 2,000 fans and includes chair back box seats.