The McPherson College baseball team is looking forward to starting this year’s season. But this year, they’ll play on their own turf.
The new facility, Bulldog Park, is located adjacent to Bremyer Dog Park on South Centennial Street and Avenue A.
For the past six years, the college has shared Light Capital Baseball Diamond with Central Christian College. The softball team played at Wall Park for 18 years since the starting of its program.
The seniors on the baseball team are the most excited, as they’ve never experienced their own home field throughout their college careers.
“It’s a lot different. With Coach (Bryan) Moses coming in and the season that we had last year, it feels like a college atmosphere, having to take care of the field every day,” infielder Dylan Fontenot said.
The home opener was initially scheduled for last week, but was canceled due to weather conditions. However, the Bulldogs are looking forward to playing their first home series against Kansas Wesleyan University at noon this Saturday.
In the first phase of the new complex consists of two fields for both the baseball and softball team. Unlike other schools in the KCAC conference, their field will be made of an artificial surface instead of grass. For the Bulldogs, it gives them the advantage to show their skillsets on the field without injuring themselves on an uneven field.
“For infielders, it has better and natural hops, unlike grass, where sometimes there will be divots and we’ll get bad hops. With turfs, you’re not going to have that,” outfielder Reilly Martin said.
In the summer of 2015, the college made a proposal to the city to lease the parcel and partnered with Prairie Landworks of McPherson in the spring of 2016 to establish a master plan to guide the project. On Dec. 1, 2016, the college obtained an official lease from the city for the land parcel. After hosting fundraisers and collecting donations from both schools and the McPherson Community, phase one of the $1.25 million baseball and softball complex project had begun, starting last year.
The project was orchestrated by Tim Cheatham, owner of the Tim Cheatham Construction company. Cheatham, who’s a former baseball player for McPherson High School, is looking forward to all the perks the ballpark is going to offer in the future.
“They (McPherson College) are going to be able to recruit much easier, now that they have a facility. It’s going to be the nicest facility in the KCAC conference,” Cheatham said.
Prior to construction, Cheatham owned and operated 365 Sports Complex in Inman and facilitated the Central Kansas Crushers baseball and softball academy, which hosts 180 players in total. He also helped with the Bulldogs’ football stadium renovations and few others venues in upgrading their campuses. When McPherson College asked Cheatham to design Bulldog Park, he was excited to create the project for the baseball team.
“There are a lot of things that I don’t take personally, but this one was the most fun out of all of it,” Cheatham said. “It’s going to be nice and bright. It’s going to be a neat day and the field is going to be playable.”
After the cancellation of their original home opener, the Bulldogs instead traveled to face Oklahoma Panhandle State University, where the Bulldogs swept the Aggies in a two-game series. With the Bulldogs’ great start in the beginning of the season, the future looks bright for the baseball program and the development of their new facility.
“It really helps us create a culture and our own identity in our field. For us to go out there and have something newly constructed for us, it means a lot. It shows that the school and community are invested in the program,” Moses said.
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