Drainage issues keeping Lebanon off new softball field

Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, May 06, 2019

LEBANON — After this week, the Lebanon High softball team has three remaining home games scheduled this season. The man in charge of their new field’s oversight retains hope the Raiders can play them there.

“We’ve had rain something like 30 of the last 36 days and it’s forecast for nine of the next 14,” Dana Arey, the Lebanon School District’s director of facilities, said on Monday. “It’s been pretty disappointing, and we’ve struggled with other fields, too, including baseball.”

The hope was that the softball Raiders would play most of their 2019 home contests on their new $180,000 diamond. So far, however, the team has used West Lebanon’s Civic Field because of consistently wet conditions.

The new field’s construction at the intersection of Heater Road and Old Etna Road started last fall and ended last month. In an April 23 email to coaches and school and district administrators, Lebanon High athletic director Mike Stone indicated the softball team would play the remainder of its home schedule at Civic unless the new field became playable.

The new softball field currently has tire ruts several inches deep inside the right-field line, a vestige of where construction vehicles drove during the infield construction. Arey said a power roller should flatten the ruts out once the ground is firm enough to hold its weight. The outfield is a patchwork of existing grass and newly laid sod along the infield’s back edge.

Arey said the new field’s construction consisted of a backstop, dugouts and infield and didn’t include all of the outfield grass or the drain installation under it. While the infield is drying and hardening thanks to its associated drains, the outfield remains wet. Another factor is the output of the drainage system on the adjacent, crowned soccer pitch, which lies across left and center field of the softball area.

“Last summer, we had a company jet out the drains under the soccer field, and they don’t go all the way to (Old Etna Road),” Arey said. “Our plan for this summer, now that we know there’s a shortcoming, is to find the ends of those drain lines and extend them further.”

The Raiders, who are 0-9 and who have lost 31 consecutive games, are desperate for good news. Giving their seniors a chance to play at least once on the new field would certainly qualify.

“If we could get a couple consecutive days of dry, sunny weather, I think we can definitely have (the softball team) on the field,” Arey said.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.