Ohio Baseball Turns to Turf

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ATHENS, Ohio– Ohio University’s Bob Wren stadium has joined the trend around college baseball with the switch to an artificial turf infield.

The $600,000 renovation has been a goal of head coach Rob Smith since he came to Ohio. The project began at the start of the fall semester and was completed the first week of October.

“From the day I arrived, it was something I wanted to see happen,” Smith said. “I knew it would be an integral part of how we would get better and move the program forward.”

baseballs on the artificial turf

The project was funded through donations by player’s parents, former players and longtime Ohio baseball donor the Nicholson family. Smith brought the idea to the Nicholson family after Ohio took a weekend series at Notre Dame in 2016.

“At the time I took this idea to Larry [Nicholson], we were 43-19, so that was a pretty compelling statement,” he said.

The switch to turf delayed the start of the Bobcats’ fall season until October, but the players are already seeing benefits of the turf.

“In the fall when it’s raining, and the weather is not the best, just being able to get out here helps a lot,” senior first basemen Rudy Rott said. “Practice is huge for us, and pitchers being able to be on the infield when wet wasn’t always doable and we would have to go over to the field hockey field. So being able to do it all right here is awesome.”

Ohio baseball’s artificial turf infield and mound

Former Ohio catcher turned assistant coach Nick Bredeson said he would have loved to play on turf, but he enjoys the new surface more now that field maintenance is one of his duties.

“My life just got four-hundred-thousand times easier,” he said. “There are still some daily maintenance stuff to keep from ruining the high traffic areas and keep everything looking nice, but this is awesome.”

Ohio’s student managers are also benefiting from the project because the turf allows them to focus more on helping the players instead of taking care of the field.

“Setting up for BP was difficult with mats and the halos and the tarp on top of the mound, so it just allows us to help the players during practices,” sophomore student manager Brock Reisler said.

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