Shenandoah University and the city of Winchester celebrated the recent completion of the first phase of renovations at the baseball and softball fields at Jim Barnett Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, April 2.
The ceremony featured representatives from Shenandoah University and its Board of Trustees, the city of Winchester and its parks and recreation department, the Winchester Royals of the Valley Baseball League, and Winchester Baseball. Shenandoah President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D.; SU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bridget Lyons, Ph.D.; Shenandoah baseball coach Kevin Anderson and softball coach Courtney Moyer; SU Trustee Robert Frogale; and Winchester Mayor John David Smith, Jr., spoke during the ribbon cutting.
Members of Shenandoah University’s baseball and softball teams and Winchester City Council also were in attendance.
The ribbon cutting celebrated the completion of a years-long collaboration that included upgrades and renovations at Henkel-Harris, Bodie Grim, Bridgeforth and Rotary fields, the latter of which serve as the homes to Shenandoah’s baseball and softball programs, respectively.
Bridgeforth and Rotary fields underwent the most extensive renovations, including the installation of FieldTurf artificial playing surfaces, expanded dugouts, batting cages, new scoreboards and renovated press boxes at both facilities. SU’s baseball and softball teams debuted their upgraded facilities in late February.
Dr. Fitzsimmons, during her remarks at the ribbon cutting, stated that the project was a “long time coming” and that it was a win not only for Shenandoah University and its baseball and softball programs, but for the city, Winchester Public Schools, the Royals and Winchester Baseball.
“There’s so much to celebrate here. No one lost. How unusual is it in this world that no one loses on a project?” Fitzsimmons said before commending the joint efforts of the Shenandoah University community and its Board of Trustees, Winchester city and community leadership, and local businesses to make projects such as the ballfield renovations happen. “I love living in this community for so many reasons, and partnerships like this are one of those reasons.”
The upgrades to the baseball and softball fields in Jim Barnett Park stemmed from a partnership struck between Shenandoah and Winchester in 2020, which gave SU management of all four fields for the next 40 years.
Handley High School’s baseball team, which had previously shared Bridgeforth Field with Shenandoah, now plays its home games at Bodie Grim Field. Handley’s softball team plays its home games at Henkel-Harris Field, which had served as the home for Shenandoah softball for 20 years.
The Winchester Royals, who compete from June to August, will continue to use Bridgeforth Field during the Valley Baseball League season.
Mayor Smith stated that the artificial turf playing surfaces at Bridgeforth and Rotary fields are the “first of their kind in the Shenandoah Valley,” and that the renovations “created a buzz and stronger sense of pride and community around the city.” Smith spoke highly of the collaboration between Shenandoah University and the city of Winchester.
It used to be that Shenandoah was an island, but it’s not an island anymore. It’s a part of our community. (SU brings) such vibrant young people here, and many of them end up making their homes here. We appreciate all of the collaborations that the university and the city have had and will continue to have.”
John David Smith, Jr., mayor of Winchester