RISD constructs new baseball, softball diamonds – Rockwall County Herald Banner




While Russ Reese seems like an unlikely candidate for recognition as Rockwall’s King of Bling, it won’t be long before the Rockwall Independent School District’s athletic director will be dripping in $4.5 million worth of diamonds.

Those would be the new baseball and softball diamonds at Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath high schools, closed for renovation since last spring and due to reopen for play in just a few weeks.

“Our contractor’s completion date is Jan. 13,” Reese said as he surveyed work at Rockwall High School before Christmas, “and I’m 100 percent convinced we’ll make it.  There’s also a chance we’ll be under budget.”

The amount of work was extensive, even though the new artificial turf fields were basically built on top of the fields they replaced.  At RHS, there was also the need to demolish a brick structure that served as a press box and concession stand to allow for more room for seating.

Stadium landmarks such as the outfield fences, scoreboards and dugouts remain in place.  It’s the fields themselves that are different, with grass and dirt replaced by turf dyed the colors of grass and dirt.

“Going to turf was an easy decision,” Reese said. “On a rainy day, these new fields will be playable 10 minutes after it stops raining.  They can handle more games and they’ll be better-suited for tournaments and other big events. You also don’t have the water issues that go along with keeping a grass field alive in the summer heat.”

The contractor, Paragon Sports Construction of Fort Worth, is further along with the turf at Rockwall than at Heath, where more work’s been done on the grandstands.  The turf at the Rockwall baseball field, for example, was almost ready for play in mid-December while there wasn’t a strip of turf on the baseball field at Heath.

“It looks like we’re further along (at RHS),” Reese said, “but Heath may actually be ready a day or two earlier.”

One completed, each of the four diamonds will feature a large school logo in center field, a block-letter H at Heath and a big, orange “Rockin’ R” at Rockwall.

Spectators will sit and walk under netting suspended from above and not requiring view-blocking posts. Netting will be behind the four home plates and overhead, which should keep foul balls from one diamond from making unwanted intrusions on to the other.

“We’ll also build some shading that will make the field more comfortable on hot sunny days for fans and eliminated some of the ‘sun in the eyes’ problems we’ve had in the past for players,” Reese said.

Players on the four teams are practicing indoors until the fields are available Official opening dates are Jan. 31 (Heath softball), Feb, 4 (Rockwall softball), Feb. 6 (Rockwall baseball) and Feb. 7 (Heath baseball).

“It’s a tribute to our residents and taxpayers in Rockwall,” Reese said.  “This project is bond-funded and these are the kind of excellent facilities are what they want us to have. We’ll do our best to make good use of them.” 

 

John Markon may be reached at editor@heraldbanner.com.



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