Despite winter weather, parents, fans, alumni and guests poured into the new Sea Gull Softball stadium for a festive ribbon cutting on Saturday before the team’s first home game of the season.
The sun was bright as SU President Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach and Interim Athletics Director Gerry DiBartolo joined more than 70 past players, coaches, support staff and dignitaries, including Maryland Sen. Addie Eckardt and Delegates Carl Anderton and Chris Adams, in throwing out ceremonial first pitches.
Earning two wins that day during the Sea Gull Classic, the team put to use the expanded, heated dugouts and the new artificial turf in the outfield.
“Head coach Margie Knight has expertly guided this program for years and I’m excited to see to what new heights our Sea Gulls will fly with this stadium,” Dudley-Eshbach said. “Our coaches and student-athletes deserve facilities befitting their commitment and their winning traditions.”
“This new softball stadium and field have been a long time coming for Coach Knight and her players,” added Dr. Gerry DiBartolo, interim athletics director. “We hope supporters enjoy it, too.”
Located at the corner of Bateman and South Division streets, the facility features permanent seating for 500 fans, along with expanded, heated dugouts for home and visiting teams, a ticket booth, a larger press box behind home plate and permanent bathrooms. It also has improved bullpens, four batting cages, a new scoreboard, a dedicated entry plaza and appealing exterior landscaping.
The playing area also got a big upgrade with the addition of artificial turf in the outfield. “The grass will always be green for Sea Gull softball!” DiBartolo said.
“This is a gem of a facility for Division III softball and our players will gain so much from being able to compete here,” Knight said. “We also wanted to make this a top-notch experience for our fans.”
The $3.2 million facility was constructed with non-state dollars. The previous field had existed at the same location since the 1970s. Demolition began last summer.
Knight, an SU alumna, won three state championships as a high school softball and volleyball coach in nearby Caroline County before returning to her Alma Mater. At Salisbury, she has been named Capital Athletic Conference Coach of the Year 13 times.
SU’s softball program has 21 NCAA tournament appearances, nine NCAA championship appearances and 19 CAC championship wins. It also has had 36 All-Americans and 168 All-conference honorees.
The ribbon cutting featured the Wicomico High School color guard and the national anthem performed by Squawkappella. It was held during the team’s two-day Sea Gull Classic; the regular season offers 26 home games for fans to enjoy the new facility.