Field pride: Lawrence Township high schools celebrate brand-new baseball stadiums


Baseball fans will have an improved experience watching home games at both Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township high schools this year, with brand-new stadiums completed just in time for the start of baseball season.

Lawrence North baseball coach Jason Taulman on the new baseball field. (Photo by Adam Seif)

Lawrence North and Lawrence Central’s new fields both have new spectator stands, dugouts, concession stands and more. Both also are covered with artificial turf that is not only low maintenance, but stays flat and smooth, which improves play.

“They have created a brand-new, state-of-the-art baseball diamond that any college team would be happy to play on,” Lawrence Central coach Tim Bragg said, adding that he particularly appreciates the new turf. “The main thing is that it’s pretty much maintenance free. A lot of the coach’s duties after practice and games is cleaning up the field if it’s a dirt field — getting it smoothed out and putting bases away and getting dirt off the grass, etc. Well, we have none of that now, so I can concentrate and focus a little bit more on the kids and getting them prepared and improving their skills rather than spending an hour a day, roughly, cleaning up fields.”

Bragg added that drainage is significantly improved, and the new surface is safer.

“There’s no dirt at all in the field,” he said. “When they slide, they’re sliding on this field turf and it’s soft. It gives and it’s better for injury prevention.”

Lawrence North coach Jason Taulman said that the varsity team started practicing on the field, even while construction crews completed some of the finishing touches to bathrooms and other amenities.

“I tell the boys all the time, they are really lucky to have this,” he said. “Really lucky to have this — they should be very thankful for it. The big thing field turf allows is, you can get out when the weather might not be great. There were a couple of days last week where the dirt field was not playable. So, we had everybody — the JV, the freshman team and the varsity team — all out here on the field turf. In the years past, that was maybe a canceled practice.”

Both coaches agreed that the smoother surface is a benefit.

“I’ve been out to walk around the (junior varsity) dirt field and I actually requested that they bring rollers out to smooth it out,” Taulman said. “After the winter, it’s really bumpy and uneven and there’s going to be a lot of bad (ball) hops. Just like our pothole-filled roads — it’s like that on the baseball field. But with field turf, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Lights installed at each baseball stadium mean they can play night games or practice after it gets dark, Bragg said. That wasn’t an option previously.

“So, if it’s a 5:30 game and it’s raining at 5:30, we could start at 6:30 (and) they could turn on the lights if it gets dark toward the end of the game,” he said. “It’s going to save us a lot of rain-out (games) and that’s really a cool thing.”

Taulman said the addition of lights means that Lawrence North will be able to host county and sectional tournaments, which include evening games.

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Lawrence Central baseball coach Tim Bragg on the new baseball field. (Photo by Adam Seif)

Bond funded MSDLT athletic facility improvements

Lawrence North baseball coach Jason Taulman points out some amenities at the school’s new baseball field, including a longer outfield and artificial turf, which drains better than grass or dirt fields. (Photo by Adam Seif)

The new baseball fields at Lawrence North and Lawrence Central high schools are part of a larger project to improve athletic facilities in the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, funded through a $25 million bond, according to MSDLT Communications Director Dana Altemeyer.

She said the bond paid for new artificial turf surfaces at baseball, softball and soccer fields at both schools, along with new grandstands, concession stands and press boxes at Lawrence Central soccer and both high school baseball facilities.

“The MSD of Lawrence Township is in the final stages of comprehensive renovations to both Lawrence Central and Lawrence North,” Superintendent Shawn Smith stated. “We are proud to be able to provide our student-athletes access to high-quality athletic facilities. These new fields will give young men the ability to compete in different weather conditions as well as at night.”

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