For Samuel Scott, a tri-sport intramural athelete, softball opening day at the new "RecSports Fields at Sutherland" should be a special one.
If the projected completion date of the complex that features two full softball fields is met, for the first time in his college career, Scott, a junior in journalism and electronic media, will play on a field dedicated to the sport at which he is best.
That's what Carrie Trexler, Director of Sports Clubs and Marketing Director, is shooting for.
"It's hard to tell because with construction, things get pushed back and delayed sometimes, but right now the projected completion date is in early February," Trexler said. "We should, if everything goes as scheduled, start programming out there in the spring — that's the hope."
The new complex will feature three sand volleyball courts and eight multi-purpose fields. Four of them will be grass; four will be artificial turf. All eight will be large enough for regulation soccer matches.
But it's the two softball fields that interests Scott, a right-handed pitcher, the most. Under the current system, there are often two softball games being played on the multi-purpose intramural fields simultaneously.
"That's the main thing that I'm excited about," Scott said. "That there's an actual field, because it's kind of annoying when you're playing softball and there's like a 500 foot wall for left field and a 200 foot wall for right field. It's nice to have an actual softball facility that makes sense and (to) actually know where the bases are. I'm not afraid that an outfielder from another game is going to collide with an outfielder from our game, our center fielder doesn't have to go dashing into the other games' outfield whenever somebody crushes one.
"So I definitely think having an actual softball field will be a benefit."
Scott has played football, basketball and softball since his freshman year, saying that his experiences in intramurals afforded him an opportunity to meet and get to know people as a freshman.
"I am best at none of them," Scott said. "But I am least worst ... at softball — I'm a pitcher so I actually contribute something to the team. But football and basketball, I just kind of stand there and fill a roster spot sometimes. But I really enjoy playing.
"The softball fields that are going to be at the complex are natural grass, they're not artificial turf," Trexler said. We'll have two dedicated softball fields with dirt infields, warning tracks and all that jazz. So it'll be pretty nice because when you play softball here on turf, the ball bounces a lot differently when it hits the ground, there's not really a fence. There is a fence out here — but it's not like a traditional softball field with foul poles, actual baselines, raised bases — so it'll be nice having all that, and a backstop."
Another aspect that will be improved for Scott and the student body is the ability for more teams to register to play at more convenient times. This year flag football games were scheduled for as late as 10 p.m., often starting later due to scheduling that was tightly compacted to accommodate a large number of teams.
"The neat thing is we're going to be able to run so many more games at a time than we can right now with just two at a time on the current fields," Trexler said.
UT's club sports teams will also benefit from the addition of the fields. Trexler said it will be a "night and day" difference for teams often forced to seek field time at local schools and parks.