Our prolonged winter has started to impact the schedules of area spring sports teams. The UNI softball team had to move their first conference series of the season last week, and will be forced to play inside the UNI Dome when they host Evansville later this week.
Panther coach Ryan Jacobs is holding out hope that UNI’s field at the Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex will be ready for competition next week. “I think next Wednesday with Iowa State coming to town, I think with a good weekend we should be okay. But definitely not this weekend with the cold weather and precipitation we are supposed to get,” Jacobs says.
To the north of Cedar Falls on the Wartburg College in Waverly, the baseball team is still waiting to debut the new-look Hertel Field. A $600,000 donation last summer gave the school enough funding to install synthetic grass on Hertel Field’s infield. Knights coach Joel Holst says that has allowed his team to spend some practice time on their field after a record number of indoor practices last year. “We don’t have any snow on our field right now and last Monday when we went out there, we had drifts 3 or 4 feet high and we were able to mechanically take off all of that snow,” Holst says. He says they would not have been able to do that without the field turf.
Besides the ability to handle snow, Holst says there are other benefits to having the artificial infield. He says you don’t have the bad hops of the balls and less maintenance. “The weather issues don’t affect it near as much,” Holst says. He counts at least 3 times where they would not have been able to use the field without the artificial surface.
The Knights are scheduled to host the first Iowa Conference series of the season this weekend against Coe. Wartburg has not played since March 15, which Holst says is not necessarily a bad thing. He says most of the conference schools are just finishing up their southern trips and his team has been able to get healthy.
Wartburg was tabbed to finish second in the Iowa Conference’s preseason poll.
(Reporting by Jesse Gavin KCNZ Cedar Falls)