SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. (WKBN) – When Jeff Messer saw the new turf field at Jack Critchfield Park, a few words came to mind.
“It felt like heaven,” he said.
Messer has been coaching baseball at Slippery Rock University for 35 years, but this year will be his first on turf.
Nearly $1 million has been poured into Jack Critchfield Park, and over 139,000 square feet of turf added.
From the back stop to the warning track, the ballpark is covered in green stripes and brown turf with the school’s logo in centerfield. ‘The Rock’ is embedded behind home plate.
“We anticipated the field being A1. It was going to be top-notch, but the bullpens were above and beyond what we thought,” says Messer.
The university has also added over 12,000 square feet of practice area, with bullpens on both sides of the field, a 65-yard stretch on the home side for long-toss and an indoor practice facility with pitching mounds and batting cages–all turfed.
The new field will give Slippery Rock considerable leverage when it comes to recruiting, and will give the baseball team the opportunity to practice earlier in the spring, and later into the fall, even winter.
“This is going to be a complete game changer for us so that we’re actually going to be able to practice,” says Messer. “Our players development-wise are going to get so much stronger. There’s no better facility in our conference, in Division Two. Everybody is trying to do a little extra to attract that student athlete. This here is like the gem of our conference now, so it’s definitely going to be a game changer for us now without question.”