ashland.news
June 13, 2024

SOU poised for new $3 million softball complex by 2025 season

SOU Athletic Director Mat Sayre kicked off the celebration for the 2023 NAIA national championship Raider Softball team on their home field in June 2023. Bob Palermini photo
April 3, 2024

Major donor commits $1 million, SOU plans to raise remaining $2 million

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

An anonymous major donor to Southern Oregon University has committed $1 million toward a $3 million new softball complex that could be ready for next season’s first pitch if plans to replace the current complex move ahead as planned.

SOU’s Athletic Director Matt Sayre told Ashland.news via phone on Friday afternoon that the complex will be funded entirely through fundraisers, and he will be trying to raise the remaining $2 million. With personnel cuts from SOU Forward spreading out the workload of what once was a dedicated maintenance worker for the field, Sayre said a new artificial turf field should reduce the demand for maintenance, as well as create an optimal playing experience for players, and viewing experience for fans.

“That softball program has won three national championships underneath Coach (Jessica) Pistole, and they’re playing on a field that we redid in 2001 when we added the program, and they’ve been playing on it ever since,” said Sayre, who’s in his 14th year as athletic director. “It’s time to give them the facility they deserve and that they’ve earned with their national performances.”

The new complex will include a new grand entrance, restroom, ticket booth, bleachers and dugouts, all backdropped by Grizzly Peak.

“There’ll be no prettier place to play softball in the northwest,” Sayre said.

Design for the new field will level the field, whereas currently, the field has a 2-foot difference in grade between home plate and the outfield.

“If you actually stand in right field and look at our field now, the field slopes about 2 feet to the outfield, so you lose about 2 feet in elevation,” Sayre said. “There’s actually going to be almost a 4-feet difference between when you walk in and the surface of the field.”

Special attention has been given to making the bleachers more comfortable for older fans and there will be ADA-accessible viewing areas.

“Once the season begins in 2025, we’d like to be on our new field,” Sayre said.

Prior to the softball program in 2001, Sayre said the field was a baseball field, used for a club team at the university in the 1980s. Sayre said the infield and the grass have been maintained well since 2001, but “as far as the surface of the field, we haven’t done a whole lot to it (since then),” he said.

That will soon change as Sayre said the plan is to install an artificial turf field.

Currently, the field uses water from Talent Irrigation District, with the option to use city of Ashland water.

“The problem now is that it’s hard to keep water on it and it’s expensive to water a field anymore, so converting to a completely turf field will cut immensely down on maintenance, but also save us a lot of water as well.”

Currently, Sayre said the field can freeze, get wet and turn to mud, and needs soil amendments to break up the soil.

With an all-weather turf field, Sayre said that players can play during more conditions

“We’ll be able to play when conditions are tough to play on a regular, natural field,” he said.

“With rain, a turf field can absorb more water. You can still play on it when it’s wet where you can’t on a grass or a dirt infield.

The SOU Board of Trustees conditionally approved the project in mid-January for a price range of between $2.4 million and $3.7 million, including a $305,000 for design services. The amount is part of the $1 million contribution.

Sayre emphasized that the project will be 100% fundraised and will not impact the university’s budget.

A contractor for the project is set to be selected soon, according to Sayre.

Sayre said a contractor is anticipated to break ground on the project this summer, with construction continuing into the fall and winter. The hope is to have the complex completed by the start of the 2025 season, which officially begins in January. The team will practice at Lithia & Driveway fields this fall and winter while the new complex is under construction, according to Bobby Heiken, associate athletic director.

“Anybody who loves our softball program and wants to see them have the field and complex they deserve, please give us a call,” Sayre said.

To reach the Athletic Department, contact Sayre at 541-552-6772.

SOU plays at home next at 2 p.m. Friday, April 12, in the first game of a double-header against British Columbia. Game two is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

April 4: Corrected to say project expected to be complete by early 2025, not fall 2025. Information also added about project timeline and where team will practice while construction is underway.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

Related Posts...

‘Pride and joy in my heart’: SOU ceremony celebrates Juneteenth

On the warm bright morning of Tuesday, June 11, around 50 people gathered on the lawn by Churchill Hall at Southern Oregon University for a Juneteenth celebration. The celebration of Juneteenth occurs because emancipation was not enforced in states held by the Confederacy until more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

Read More »

President Bailey leads SOU contingent to American Samoa

More than 100 students from American Samoa have enrolled at SOU over the past four years. The SOU trip is a part of the university’s annual efforts to show up for students and their families, and provide an in-person orientation for new students as they gear up for their first term at the Ashland campus.

Read More »

Latest posts

Poetry Corner: Haiku, please

Poetry Corner: It’s haiku and beyond, proving once again, if proof were needed, that Ashland, Oregon, is the nursery of poets. Elaine Maveety and Jim Flint find beauty in subjects from the natural world to Burma Shave, and each has its own particular poetic charm.

Read More >

‘Pride and joy in my heart’: SOU ceremony celebrates Juneteenth

On the warm bright morning of Tuesday, June 11, around 50 people gathered on the lawn by Churchill Hall at Southern Oregon University for a Juneteenth celebration. The celebration of Juneteenth occurs because emancipation was not enforced in states held by the Confederacy until more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

Read More >

President Bailey leads SOU contingent to American Samoa

More than 100 students from American Samoa have enrolled at SOU over the past four years. The SOU trip is a part of the university’s annual efforts to show up for students and their families, and provide an in-person orientation for new students as they gear up for their first term at the Ashland campus.

Read More >

Explore More...

Poetry Corner: Haiku, please

Poetry Corner: It’s haiku and beyond, proving once again, if proof were needed, that Ashland, Oregon, is the nursery of poets. Elaine Maveety and Jim Flint find beauty in subjects from the natural world to Burma Shave, and each has its own particular poetic charm.

Read More>

‘Pride and joy in my heart’: SOU ceremony celebrates Juneteenth

On the warm bright morning of Tuesday, June 11, around 50 people gathered on the lawn by Churchill Hall at Southern Oregon University for a Juneteenth celebration. The celebration of Juneteenth occurs because emancipation was not enforced in states held by the Confederacy until more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

Read More>
ashland.news logo

Subscribe to the newsletter and get local news sent directly to your inbox.

(It’s free)

Don't Miss Our Top Stories

Get our newsletter delivered to your inbox three times a week.
It’s FREE and you can cancel anytime.