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New resident reviving Florence ballfield

Staff writer

When Aaron Craig moved to Florence with his family in June 2010, he was happy to see the city had a softball field.

He coaches softball and has three daughters who he wants to teach to play softball, and the field presents a good opportunity for that. But he isn’t happy about the condition of the field.

“It needs a little TLC,” he said.

He has already put in some work on the field, including raking weeds out of the infield with help from his oldest daughter, 9-year-old Aubrey.

“We haven’t worked on it for a while, but it looks better than it used to be,” Aubrey said.

Craig has big plans for the field. He plans to add mesh screens in front of the dugouts to keep dirt and dust from blowing into them, scrape and repaint the bleachers, replace rotten and broken boards in the bleachers.

His loftiest plans include eventually adding batting cages and a two-story press box behind home plate.

He also plans to start a youth softball team next summer. Aubrey said she is excited about the chance to play rather than just practicing.

Craig said he is working with the Florence Vision and Impact Team, a group that wants to bring people back to Florence and revitalize the city.

A good softball field would help that goal, because sports tournaments can bring a lot of people into town who otherwise wouldn’t see Florence. And with visitors comes money, he said.

Shortages of time, equipment, and funding are the main obstacles to restoring the field. Craig is organizing a softball tournament to raise money to help renovate the field. An eight-team men’s slow-pitch softball tournament is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, Sept. 3 and 4.

If teams fill the tournament, Craig and other volunteers plan to use a lot of elbow grease to get the field in its best shape before the tournament.

He has also looked into possible grants for the project, including from sporting goods companies.

For more information, contact Craig at (620) 708-0818 or coachcraig63@hotmail.com.

Last modified July 21, 2011

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