Current, future field renovations give area high school baseball programs sense of pride

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Photo - Landscapers work on the new baseball field at Cheyenne Mountain High School Thursday, March 10, 2016. The field opens for the season, Friday, March 11.
CAROL LAWRENCE/THE GAZETTE
Landscapers work on the new baseball field at Cheyenne Mountain High School Thursday, March 10, 2016. The field opens for the season, Friday, March 11. CAROL LAWRENCE/THE GAZETTE

After school Tuesday, Mitchell's baseball players will have a little extra time on their hands prior to their game against Sierra.

That's because the Marauders won't have to worry about getting in their cars - or getting rides - to Spurgeon Field at Memorial Park to play their home games anymore.

For the first time since 2003, Mitchell is playing home games on campus. Next year, The Classical Academy is expected to host games for the first time after spending its first nine seasons making the nearly 40-mile commute to El Pomar Youth Sports Complex for home games.

And Cheyenne Mountain has a new all-turf field in place for its March 31 opener, the product of a $45 million District 12 bond issue that was passed in November 2014.

It's not only a new season, but a new era as well for these area schools.

"Spurgeon wasn't their home," said first-year Mitchell coach Cory Monroe, who spent the previous three seasons building a program, and upgrading the campus field, at Mesa Ridge. "We'd have no one show up for games. We didn't have students because they couldn't get there. They had no pride. This is our home, and the kids take pride in the field."

Since the start of the school year, Monroe and his team have blended ground balls with ground work, getting help from a few friends and spending many hours digging out weeds, shoveling and leveling tons of dirt and turning an eyesore into home sweet home.

"When I first started, I didn't know we had a dirt infield," Monroe said. "We got some dirt donated and put in a lot of hours. It's looking pretty nice now."

Nice isn't the first adjective TCA would say about its practice facility. Since its inaugural season in 2008, the program talked about transforming the patch of dirt and rocks into a home field.

Thanks to its board recently voting to release $1 million to start construction of an all-turf multipurpose field - softball and track's throwing events also are included - in May, those visions will finally become real.

"Every year since I was a freshman, they've been promising us a new field," Titans senior pitcher Spencer Hamilton said. "I'm just happy they're finally getting started. I'm sad the seniors won't get to enjoy it, but it'll be great for the next classes."

Landscapers work on the new baseball field at Cheyenne Mountain High School Thursday, March 10, 2016. The field opens for the season, Friday, March 11. CAROL LAWRENCE/THE GAZETTE 

At Cheyenne Mountain, a new field at a new venue on campus will forever change the landscape, literally, of this 4A traditional power eager to make its return to the playoffs following two subpar seasons.

"I've been all over in 22 years, and I've played and coached at hundreds of fields, but I've never seen anything like this," Indians coach Mark Swope said.

"From where it sits on campus, it's beautiful. It's got to be one of the nicest fields I've seen."

As part of the schoolwide renovation project, Cheyenne Mountain's former field now is a parking lot, with the new location situated by the indoor field house behind the school.

Thanks to a warm February, crews were able to make up work after falling behind in the past months due to conditions being too cold and dry.

"I had no plans of having a home game here after nothing was done on it in the fall," Swope said.

"I've never seen a February like we just had. They got on it, and they're putting the finishing touches on it. It's going to be great."