May 23, 2009 in Washington Voices

No place like home field

Volunteers build East Side Little League teams a diamond
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Photos by J. BART RAYNIAK photo

East Side Little League King’s pitcher Zach Stotts throws off a mound at the new Rookie Field at Pavillion Park that was donated and built by the Spokane Indians organization. Volunteers built the backstop and cut the sod for the infield, and most of the equipment used for the project was donated.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

After years of effort the East Side Little League in Liberty Lake finally has a baseball field to call its own. The new field was carved out of a corner of Pavillion Park and the first game was played May 2.

On Wednesday the Spartans and the Kings, both East Side Little League teams, happily played on the field. The white chalk on the base lines was a sharp contrast against the green grass and the brown dirt brought in specifically for the field.

Volunteers did all the work of remaking the field. “We had to build a backstop, we had to extend the fence line down both of the base paths and we had to create an infield,” said organizer Jennifer Tomlinson. The volunteers cut out sod and hauled dirt, replacing it with a special sports mix dirt for baseball fields. A maintenance crew from the Spokane Indians created the pitchers mound.

Summer Tuohey-Carpenter, 10, a Spartan, likes the new field because it’s right across the street from her house. She also did some of the construction work. “I did the dirt,” she said. “I raked it and I shoveled it.”

Her father, Brian Carpenter, logged many hours on the field. “I was here three or four weekends, putting in eight-hour days,” he said. “All the work was worth it. It puts a smile on the kids’ faces.”

Tomlinson said it took “sheer persistence” to make the field happen. A previous location fell through and they began discussions with the city of Liberty Lake about getting a field in Pavillion Park. The field was finally approved last month. It’s only for Little League use, since the field dimensions are too small to allow adult games.

The city donated the dirt and other donors stepped up with supplies and labor. “We had probably close to 100 volunteers on that project,” she said.

The league also purchased a temporary fence that is put up in the outfield before every game so that the adjacent area can still be used for soccer games and other activities. “The kids call it Rookie Field,” she said. “We call it Rookie Field because rookies built it and rookies will play on it.”

Before the field was finished, teams played all over the place, including on a private ball field called The Diamond at Safeco. But having a centrally located field to call their own makes for a shorter commute for most players. “They’re able to ride their bikes to the field,” she said. “It’s right in the center of the city. You couldn’t ask for a better spot, honestly.”

Tomlinson said she wasn’t sure of the projects final price tag. “The original estimate was $7,500 to complete the project and that didn’t include fencing,” she said.

Spartans coach Todd Rowell said he’s pleased with the new field. “I think it’s great,” he said. “This is nice because it’s in the community area.”

There’s a playground right next to the field for younger siblings and public restrooms. “This is much nicer,” he said. “This has a grass infield, so it slows the ball down a little bit.

“It’s really nice to have a nice field in Liberty Lake.”

Nina Culver can be reached at (509) 927-2158 or via e-mail at ninac@spoksman.com.

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