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Perp Softball: Salisbury breaks in new field

By Mike London
Salisbury Post
Salisbury’s Brittany Miller got an out with her very first pitch, and catcher De’Rya Wylie scored the first run standing up.
Salisbury introduced its first on-campus softball field with a ribbon-cutting and a victory over CCC rival Lexington on Friday afternoon.
Principal Windsor Eagle and Robertson Foundation executive director David Setzer handled the ribbon-cutting.
Student body president Tom Fisher took care of introductions. SHS student Haily Weddington belted out the National Anthem. Baseball coach Scott Maddox announced starting lineups.
An impressive new softball field is the latest piece in an ongoing revitalization of Salisbury athletic programs. The seven-year process has lifted the school’s facilities from ancient or non-existent to arguably the county’s best.
The Robertson Foundation provided the financing for Salisbury’s sports rebirth, while Eagle and athletics director Joe Pinyan provided the energy.
“The master plan was first presented in November of 2001,” explained Eagle, who proudly wore a red Hornets cap. “The plan called for new facilities for baseball, track, tennis and softball. Now the one thing that remains is to get a practice facility built.”
The softball field is located next to the baseball outfield. Baseball is a sport at Salisbury in which a new on-campus facility helped rejuvenate a struggling program.
The hope is that the construction of a softball field on campus will boost the Hornets in another sport in which it has traditionally lagged behind the county schools in Rowan and Davidson.
Salisbury entered yesterday’s games with two victories ó over Lexington and Statesville.
“One of the hold-backs in the program was having to travel to every practice and every game,” Eagle said. “Now we have a wonderful place to play home games, and that should help us build something. It’s going to take time, but this will help.”
Salisbury softball teams played for years at the Sports Complex. The Hornets have played at Kelsey Scott Park this season.
“Having a field right on campus means kids can just walk out of the school building and make it to practice,” Salisbury coach Dee Miller said. “That’s important. It can be a challenge to get them somewhere that’s seven or eight blocks away.’
The field isn’t quite finished, but it has a natural location in a valley nestled in corner of campus. There were crisp chalklines, green grass and a smooth infield, and the fans, seated on a hilltop, stared down at a perfect high-school venue.
The softball team borrowed bleachers from tennis and benches from soccer for Friday’s game, but it should have improved fixtures, plus luxuries such as a scoreboard and a permanent outfield fence, in the future.
“There’s still straw everywhere, but I think it’s really nice and everyone is excited about playing here,” said senior Brittany Miller, who is “Spanky” to her teammates. “It’s the first time we’ll really be at home for a home game, and we’ve been looking forward to it.”
Lefty-hitting third baseman Kimber Fink has been around a few years, and was wearing a smile of relief.
“We’ve been getting in cars after school and trying to get over to Kelsey Scott for practices,” she said. “Usually, Spanky has a carload, and I’ve got a carload, and my car just eats up gas. I drive far enough just getting to school.”
Lexington’s Katie Thompson was the first hitter to step to the plate on the new field, and shortstop Mary Ducksworth chased down her first-pitch popup and squeezed it on the run for the initial out.
Miller recorded the first walk and racked up the first strikeout on the new field, as the Yellow Jackets went down quietly in the opening inning.
Before she scored Salisbury’s historic first run on a wild pitch, leadoff hitter Wylie drew a walk and was the first to steal a base.
Miller, who followed Wylie, had the distinction of getting the first hit, a bunt single.
Ducksworth grabbed another small piece of history when her grounder to shortstop in the first inning scored Miller and was the first RBI recorded on the new field.
Pinyan, who worked all day to get the field ready, leaned on a fence and watched the Hornets take charge with some satisfaction.
“We should just close it down now ó undefeated on our home field,” he said with a laugh.
That won’t happen. The Hornets are proud of their new field, and Fink pointed out they’ll now enjoy more support from the student body.
More support means more interest. More interest means more people coming out for softball, and more people means a stronger program.
“It’s about time we got a place,” Wylie said with a grin. “We couldn’t wait to try it out, and we couldn’t wait to get our first win.”
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Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.

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