Shenandoah University’s baseball and softball programs are enjoying their new homes after renovations were recently completed at Bridgeforth and Rotary fields in Jim Barnett Park.
Upgrades to both facilities were done after Shenandoah entered into a partnership with the city of Winchester in 2020 that gave SU management of four baseball and softball fields located within the park. The renovations, which began on Aug. 1, 2021, included the installation of artificial turf at Bridgeforth and Rotary fields that serve as the home facilities for Shenandoah’s baseball and softball teams, respectively.
“Having artificial turf infill systems at baseball and softball is a game changer for us. We are now able to host baseball and softball tournaments, and also open up these facilities to community use when we aren’t in season. In just the short time that we have been hosting games at the renovated facilities, we have already seen an increased home-field advantage for our teams. We now have the best playing surfaces in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference as well as across the nation.”
Shenandoah Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bridget Lyons, Ph.D.
Turf installation at Rotary Field was completed in December, while the installation at Bridgeforth Field was finished in February. The Hornets’ baseball and softball teams debuted their new homes on Feb. 20 with doubleheaders against Misericordia.
The approximately $4 million in field upgrades include new scoreboards and batting cages, expanded dugouts, and renovated press boxes in addition to the new playing surfaces. The FieldTurf artificial turf infill system eliminates much of the upkeep associated with natural grass fields and is a particularly nice amenity in the event of inclement weather.
“The turf has been better than anticipated,” said longtime Shenandoah baseball coach Kevin Anderson. “We haven’t missed a day of practice or a game since it was completed. Many thanks to President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Senior Vice President/VP for Advancement Mitch Moore, the Board of Trustees and all involved for making a dream come true.”
“The turf allows us to play and practice consistently,” SU softball coach Courtney Moyer said. “The surface plays true and clean. It’s a top-notch facility!”
Bridgeforth Field has served as Shenandoah’s home baseball field for over 30 years and, during that time, was shared between the Hornets, John Handley High School, James Wood High School, and the Valley Baseball League’s Winchester Royals. While the Royals, who compete from June to August, will still use Bridgeforth under the new agreement between SU and the city of Winchester, Handley now plays its home baseball games at Bodie Grim Field.
Shenandoah’s softball team previously played its home games at Henkel-Harris Field for 20 years and moved to Rotary Field as part of the agreement. Henkel-Harris remains the home of Handley softball and the Winchester youth baseball program.
Dr. Lyons said a dedication event for both fields would take place later this spring, during which the public will be invited to tour the facilities.