By Victoria Sheridan
With this year’s mild winter, there is not much snow that needs to melt quickly in order for baseball and softball season to begin. Which is a great outcome for the spring Penn State Worthington athletes practicing for the upcoming season.
While every season is an important one, this one is special. It marks the first time athletes will dig their cleats into the dirt of the newly renovated Matt McGloin Baseball Field and UGI Utilities Softball Field.
The makeover that took place over the past few years was phase one of a three part multi-million dollar campus Athletic Facilities Renovation. Future phases include a campus wellness center, an auxiliary gym, and major improvements to the Multi-Purpose Building such as renovated offices, classrooms, restrooms, shower and locker facilities, and a new gymnasium. This will be the first time the Multi-Purpose Building has seen any work done since it was built in 1968.
For now, however, the baseball and softball fields are a much needed improvement. Before the renovation, the fields were not up to the standards of other local colleges. It was dangerous for athletes to play as there not a lot of dirt and a hard lip. In the outfield, there were many holes and divots. The fields were not regulation size as they were longer and bigger than NCAA rules. There was no scoreboard to keep track of the innings or score. The field lacked bleachers and a concession stand.
Now, there are scoreboards, dugouts, bleachers, a field house, a concession stand, and a sports information center. There are sidewalks to insure safety for those and a new parking lot to accommodate spectators and opponents.
While these fields are state of the art, none of it would have been possible if weren’t for a collective effort from the plethora of donors in the local community and former student athletes. Both fields, along with the scoreboards and dugouts, were named after campus alumni to recognize their generous donations to Penn State Worthington Scranton’s campus.
The softball field was named UGI Utilities to recognize the generous gift from the company. The Matt McGloin Baseball field was dedicated to the West Scranton native and former Nittany Lions quarterback and currently the quarterback for the NFL Oakland Raiders, Matt McGloin.
According to Penn State Worthington Scranton’s website, Mr. McGloin released a personal statement at last year’s ribbon cutting ceremony about the dedication.
“Having grown up playing baseball, and with baseball being one of my favorite sports, it’s truly an unexpected and terrific honor to have a baseball [field] named after me in the Scranton area,” he said. “I hope the Matt McGloin Baseball Field will inspire future athletes to excel in athletics.”
Many faculty and staff have expressed their feelings toward the three part renovation series. Jeff Mallas, Director of Athletics at Penn State Worthington Scranton, stated the renovation is an asset to the school and athletes, “The renovation is positive for our campus. It helps us and our student athletes.”
Mr. Mallas expressed that once phase two and three of the renovation takes place, the facilities will rival colleges in the area. With a sharper appearance to the campus, it could help to recruit athletes.
Mr. Mallas has high hopes for the fields, “It will be good for the community during the summer for camps, programs, and clinics.”
Assistant softball coach, Mar Tsakonas, has been part of the athletic program since 2009. This spring marks the first time ever that the softball team will be playing at home instead of Sherwood Park located in Dunmore.
“It’s a great opportunity to be playing on our home ground. We now have a place to call home, so there’s a greater pride that comes along with it,” Ms. Tsakonas commented, “Now it allows the softball team to show the campus the hard work they put into their game.”
With the convenience of a home field, it makes it easier on everyone involved. “It’s easier to practice and have a game. Before, we had to schedule all this time just to travel,” Ms. Tsakonas explained, “It puts us on the map now that we have our own facility. It adds a nice aspect to the campus for prospective students thinking about coming here. It also helps with recruiting too.”
While the faculty and staff are excited, so are many of the athletes. A few of the returning baseball and softball players are excited to step onto the field for the first time.
To celebrate the opening of this facility, the baseball and softball teams have been playing double-headers throughout the months of March and April.
The first home game for softball wass a double-header on March 24 against St. Joseph, followed on March 28 when Penn State Worthington Scranton played a double-header against Brandywine. On April 3, PSWS went up against Penn State Hazelton in a double header, and on April 19 is another double-header match against SUNY Delhi beginning at 3 p.m. PSWS plays a double-header against Penn State Beaver at 2 p.m. The final softball home game will take place on April 24, against Penn State Allegheny at noon.
For more information about stats, scores, or pictures of the renovation, please visit www.psuscrantonathletics.com.