Courtesy of App State Athletics
The Mountaineer baseball program has a new addition: an all-new AstroTurf Diamond Series RBI System. The new turf replaces the FieldTurf system in use since Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium opened in 2007.
“It’s going to be something not only that our baseball program is extremely proud of, but it’s going to be something that our entire athletic department and university are proud of,” head coach Kermit Smith said.
The new turf provides a new look at the stadium with vibrant shades of green, replicating the mowing pattern of many famous baseball stadiums, such as Wrigley Field in Chicago or Fenway Park in Boston. The turf features a nearly 90-foot tall App State “A” in center field and gold and white App State logos behind the batter’s box and pitcher’s mound.
“Whether you’re watching on TV, or whether you’re at our place, you’re going to get a sense of our logo and our branding, which is really important to us,” Smith said.
According to AstroTurf’s website, over 50 NCAA Division-I baseball programs currently use its systems. Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State and Duke are just a few of the programs that use the turf systems.
The turf can withstand rain and other elements better than grass and dirt baseball fields. Weather in Boone is often unpredictable, making it difficult to prepare for games after or during rain. It also requires much less maintenance, as the turf does not grow or need cutting.
The new turf comes on the heels of a breakthrough season in which the Mountaineers made program history.
App State finished last year with its most wins in a season since 2013, with a 22-31 overall record and a 13-16 mark in the Sun Belt. It was the first double-digit Sun Belt win total for App State since joining the conference in 2014. The Mountaineers also made the Sun Belt tournament for the first time, securing the No. 9 seed in the 10-team tournament.
App State returns 10 position players who made at least 10 starts and six pitchers who threw 20 or more innings from last year’s squad. The Mountaineers also welcome 11 newcomers to the program.
Junior outfielder Tyler Leek, who hit .323 with 32 runs and 23 RBI’s last season, said he and his teammates are thrilled with how the finished product turned out.
“(The turf) is amazing; it’s really kind of like a blessing to have,” Leek said. “Just looking at it, you can tell it’s a really nice product, and it plays really well.”