New artificial turf infield brings added excitement for Hudson baseball

After the 2020 high school baseball season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was a big boost for the Hudson baseball team as there is a new artificial turf infield waiting for the Explorers on their home field upon their return for 2021 would.

“It was great,” said captain and first baseman Corey Strazek after Hudson’s 7-10 loss to Wooster on Saturday. “Especially with the cancellation of the season it was like a little boost when we had to come back to get back to this beautiful field.”

“It helped us practice and improved us overall as a program. It’s just so easy to go there. It could be 30 degrees and the outside field could be soaked, but when you run on the grass it feels totally dry . “

The thought of playing on artificial turf is likely to make baseball purists scratch their heads.

The infield on the left at the Hudson Ballpark is now artificial turf, while the outfield remains grass. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

Given the Ohio High School baseball season, an artificial turf infield (the outfield remains just grass) offers advantages, especially when the weather can be wintry and rainier at the start of the season.

“There are a lot of traditionalists who prefer to play on grass,” said Hudson coach Buddy Dice. “In an ideal world, that’s what you want. However, if you live in northeast Ohio, most days are not so nice. … Northeast Ohio is usually wet, especially this time of year in spring. This year.” it was a bit strange with the warm days we had, but we could get out of here and play pretty regularly. “

Hudson pitcher Johnny MacKay will take on Wooster on Saturday's new infield lawn in the Hudson Ballpark. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

Gone are the days when games and exercises were canceled or had to work out because of a damp field in the school gym.

“We are so grateful that we can have it,” said senior captain and outfielder Connor Rubin. “A few years ago we had to play inside or our training was canceled. The fact that we can play outside even when it’s a little colder and rainy is just the best.”

There have been talks in recent years about upgrading the infield to turf, Dice said.

The new infield lawn at Ballpark at Hudson during Hudson's game against Wooster on Saturday. [Karen Schiely/Beacon Journal]

The ballpark renovation took a step forward in October 2020 when the Hudson School Board officially accepted a lawn donation.

“I met our superintendent, Mr. [Phil] Herman as well as former sports director Mr. [Bryan] Bedford, “said Dice.” We went through a few different CEOs in those meetings and just said, “Hey, there are some people out there who want to make a difference on this scale.” Fortunately, we got the green light for this last spring. It was quite a long process to make sure everything was okay. Most importantly, the generous donations from some of the people who made it happen. ”

Dice said there were “nearly 90” donors, including the Hudson Diamond Club, which was doing most of the logistics. FieldTurf installed the actual playing area with the Vasco Group, which did the construction work.

Construction began in late autumn 2020 and was suspended in December due to winter. Last minute touches were completed in the last month.

The last run was two weeks ago, but Dice said the explorers were still able to run parts of the trials on the new interface at the end of February.

It’s not just the Hudson (2-1) University team that is enjoying the new infield, either.

“On a regular weekend, not necessarily on Easter Sunday, our youth organizations will also use the lawn and the facility,” said Dice. “If we also have lights, we can do multiple exercises every day of the week, which is very nice. Everyone is looking forward to getting out of there.”

The lawn has also reduced field prep time and cleanup work.

Players still have to rake the field after a game, but it’s not as time consuming as pulling the dirt and cutting the infield grass on a regular field.

As for gaming, players say it was also easy to adapt to the small changes that the turf brings, especially the game that plays a lot “cleaner”.

“It’s much more difficult to make mistakes on a grass field,” said Strazek. “You just won’t get a bad jump. As long as you stay down you will basically be able to make the game.”

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