A bare-bones baseball diamond greeted Chris Ramirez when he became the University of Illinois Springfield baseball coach in July 2013.
It was mostly a blank canvas except for an outfield fence, chain link backstop, a bullpen, bases and pitching mound. In time for the 2014 baseball season, Ramirez transformed the practice diamond into a home field.
The Prairie Stars' inaugural season was 2011 and they played the first three years away from campus. In Ramirez's first season UIS began playing on campus, and the diamond has continued taking shape through the years.
UIS will play its seventh season on a field with artificial turf on the infield. The school announced Wednesday it is replacing the grass and will install turf in October.
“We’re the biggest program in town,” Ramirez said. “We need to have the nicest facility in town.”
Once the turf goes in, UIS will join Quincy as the only teams in the 16-team Great Lakes Valley Conference with turf infields.
“Three years ago, we were the only team in the GLVC that didn’t have a field,” Ramirez said. “Now we are one of two teams in the GLVC that will have turf. It takes us from being on the low end to being one on the high end.”
As part of its First Pitch Phase Facility Campaign, UIS raised $270,000 in donations in six months to install field turf on the infield.
The story was reported by the State Journal-Register on June 2, 2016.
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