It’s the bottom of the seventh inning against your archrival, the game is tied and the winning run for the home team is standing at third base.
El Reno head softball coach Davee Deaton can picture her 2019 Indians softball team being in that scenario - what she can’t predict is where that scenario will take place.
Deaton’s team is set to move from Joe E. Riley Field to the new softball complex being built in Adams Park near the Denny-Crump Rodeo Arena and the Hub Reed Baseball Complex.
However, the project has run into delays due to recent heavy rains. Deaton remains skeptical her players will be on the new field when practice starts July 15.
“We can see the end but we have still got a lot of work to be done. I think we can get it done and I’m hopeful we can play on this field this year. I think it’s doable,” said Deaton.
The project has been a joint effort between the city of El Reno and El Reno Public Schools. With the help of a matching grant from the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, the area has gone from an open field last July to its current state.
“It’s basically complete as far as the parts of the grant is concerned. There are a couple of loose ends we can’t finish because of the water.
“Mother Nature keeps throwing us strikes. It will be ready to play, it’s just taking us longer than we wanted to,” said El Reno Assistant City Manager Matt Sandidge.
Sandidge, who helped secure the state grant, said the major hurdle is the field’s lighting system. The poles and light banks were purchased at surplus from Western Heights Public Schools and have been on-site for more than nine months.
However, electrical lines to the new field and surrounding buildings were not completed until recently. The bases for the light poles are in place, but rain has halted the installation.
According to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, El Reno has received 26.99 inches of rain in the past 90 days, with 22.01 inches received in the last 60 days.
“We closed the project back in May with the grant. The electric is done. We just need to pick up the poles and plug them in. We have been waiting to get the lights up because of the mud.
“With so much rain we cannot get a crane in there, but we will be ready to play high school there this year,” said Sandidge.
Water was still standing near both of the light poles which will shine down on the infield area. Delay of the pole installation has also halted the stringing of the backstop netting.
“We have the net ready to hang but we wanted to get the light poles in there so we would not damage the net while putting them in,” said Sandidge.
Once the poles are set, Sandidge said some landscaping will be needed.
“When the poles are in we will come in there with some sod and clean up the area around the lights,” said Sandidge.
There will have to be work done on the infield dirt to get it game-ready, but the outfield Bermuda grass is in place and growing.
Work on both the outfield and infield surfaces began Thursday under the eye of former EHS baseball coach Keanon Simon.
Simon stepped away from coaching at Mustang High School after the spring baseball season to focus on his field services business.
The entire complex is fenced off and the field itself is outlined with a wall that runs from the end of each concrete dugout, down both perimeters and around the outfield from foul pole to foul pole.
El Reno High School Athletic Director Rodney Haydon said the district will put up a fence to separate the softball and baseball fields for ticket reasons.
However, concrete walkways have been installed to connect both fields.
Both dugouts will have to be covered for protective reasons.
While it was not paid from grant money, said Sandidge, two separate metal buildings were erected just off the third-base side.
One building will house indoor batting cages and the other will serve as a locker room and coaches office.
“The school paid for those buildings 100 percent,” said Sandidge.
El Reno Superintendent Craig McVay said the district will be responsible for finishing out those buildings in the construction of walls and doors, players lockers, indoor lighting and bathroom fixtures.
“My understanding is all the inside of the buildings is our responsibility. I was told they just got electric to the buildings this week, so they should be able to get to work but I have no idea of a time frame.
“I know our goal is to be on that field this fall at some point,” said McVay.
Deaton said she is leaving the finishing touches up to others.
“That’s the last thing on my mind right now. My focus is on the kids. We have got a lot of young talent and I’ve got to develop that and get the kids ready to play.
“If we get to play there that’s great and that is the plan. If not, that’s fine. We’ve waited this long, what’s a little bit longer,” said Deaton.
The new complex has yet to be named and Deaton said that could be determined by donor support for items still outstanding. There is no scoreboard, press box or bleachers.
“There is not a name for it. We will see what types of donors we get for things and go from there on that. There are some things we have got to raise money for and they are trying to save money but it’s going to take some donors.
“The buildings are up and it looks great. It looks like a field now, but we’ve got some final touch-up on some things,” said Deaton.
Sandidge said the city has some temporary bleachers which can be used but funds for a press box and permanent bleachers were not part of the grant and will have to be raised.
“It’s a nice facility. It will share concessions with baseball but anything else we do will have to be done with funds raised locally either with the school or the city,” said Sandidge.
Sandidge said the project to this point has a price tag of roughly $260,000, with half of that money coming from the matching grant from the state.
“Shooting from the hip, we would have had to spend $260,000 to get the $130,000 back from the state on the matching grant. The school had a substantial share so it’s not like the city funded the rest. The school did a lot of in-kind stuff,” said Sandidge.
Sandidge admits not having the field completely ready to play by now has been frustrating.
“It’s been frustrating. As soon as we think it’s dry enough to get back to work, it rains again. It would be nice to be 100 percent complete, but we are just not there yet.
“Our goal is to get high school softball on that field this fall and I don’t feel like it will be an issue. It will be done by July 15,” said Sandidge.