Although significant progress has been made since renovations to the baseball and softball fields at South Campus began in mid-December, the projects have been on hold since March 12, merely weeks prior to the scheduled completion date.
Owen J. Dougherty Field, home of IUP baseball, is “a week or two of work” away from being completed, in IUP baseball coach Anthony Rebyanski’s estimation. Meanwhile, the same can’t be said for the home of IUP softball, Ruth Podbielski Field, which is much further behind.
Formerly all-natural surfaces, both fields are being upgraded with new synthetic turf fields, including pitching mounds, backstops and foul territories. The outfields will remain natural grass, although Podbielski Field will have a turf warning track. Additionally, new home and away turf bullpens are being added behind each dugout. The project began the week of Dec. 9, and the renovations were expected to be completed by late March, according to the IUP athletic department’s news release on Dec. 30.
“We are thrilled to announce this new turf project and are looking forward to unveiling a new look on South Campus this spring,” IUP director of athletics Todd Garzarelli said at the time. “As we continue to build the student-athlete experience, we feel that this project will allow our baseball and softball programs better preparation to perform at a high level and provide an IUP home field advantage.”
Other than some turf touchups and fence work in the bullpens, Dougherty Field is nearly complete. The turf has been laid, and all that remains is completing the trenches along the foul lines in the outfield where the turf and natural grass meet.
A few hundred yards away, Podbielski Field could be described as a muddy mess. Although the work has begun, the field is awaiting the foundation upon which the new turf playing surface will be laid.
Both Rebyanski and IUP softball coach Shawna Bellaud expressed confidence the projects will be completed before next season, though nobody can be certain when work will resume.
Nonetheless, both coaches still feel the same sense of excitement about the future as they did when the project began.
“This is a great and exciting time to be part of IUP baseball,” Rebyanski said in December. “This is truly a game changer for us in many ways, especially from a recruiting standpoint. When we have a recruit on campus and they see the recent upgrades to Dougherty Field and our practice facilities, they will be excited to be part of the IUP baseball culture.”
“I am thrilled for the turf project that will upgrade Ruth Podbielski Field,” Bellaud said. “I am excited for a new, modern and specialized field for our program to be able to call ‘home.’ It will be a great consistent surface for our players and will add to the overall student-athlete experience. The turf will give our spring schedule more flexibility and functionality which will allow us to play smarter on the field and help our student-athletes manage their academic and athletic plans.”
Clark Contractors, Inc., from Bedford, Pa, will serve as the general contractor and install the A-Turf surfaces. IUP will be using A-Turf’s Titan system.