It may be a while before either team takes the field again, but the Texas Rangers aren’t the only local team with a new ballpark to play in this year.
The Oakridge baseball and softball teams are also moving into their new facilities for the spring seasons, playing in the Baylor Scott & White Orthopedic and Spine Hospital Arlington Baseball and Softball Complex.
“It’s exhilarating to drive onto campus every morning now and see the full developed 50 acres,” Oakridge Head of School Jon Kellam said. “It has been over a decade of a lot of hard work and dedication. Joyful is another word I would use. I’m just real proud of our school.”
A pair of tournaments on Feb. 20-22 took place to help debut the complex as the school hosted the first Oakridge Spring Classic
“Oakridge has a long history of competitive and successful baseball and softball teams, with both programs consistently qualifying for the SPC (Southwest Preparatory Conference) postseason tournaments,” Oakridge Athletic Director Shawn Meadows said. “Recently, the Oakridge 2018 baseball team won the SPC North division, going undefeated in league play.”
The idea came to be in 2006 when then Headmaster Andy Broadus and the school’s board of regents brokered a deal to purchase 50 acres of undeveloped land across the street from the school for $2.1 million. In the years that followed, funds were raised through donors to the Greatest Names in Sports Capital Campaign.
The years between 2010 and 2015 saw the construction of practice fields and competition venues for field hockey, football, soccer, track and field, and tennis. A playground, sport court, and picnic area went in behind the stadium, creating a shaded, park-like area.
The baseball/softball complex became a priority in 2016, and fundraising became focused on that. Phase 1, which was completed in 2017, included a road with 100 parking spaces, an additional entrance/exit to Pioneer Parkway, a concession and restroom building, and sidewalks, lighting and landscaping around the tennis center and parking lot. Phase 2 was the complex itself.
“The new baseball and softball complex is a beautiful facility. I’ve been coaching on or around a softball field since the time my oldest daughter could walk,” Lady Owls softball coach Dexter Coakley said. “I love feeling the dirt beneath my feet. The speed of the game when it’s played on a dirt infield is exciting and fun.”
Yes, that is the same Dexter Coakley who played linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys from 1997-2004 and for the St. Louis Rams in 2005-06. He is in his sixth season coaching softball at Oakridge.
Both fields feature state-of-the-art natural grass, metal outfield fences, and top-of-the-line scoreboards with scorers’ booths. The large dugouts include changing rooms and storage areas, along with bullpens for home and visiting teams. The complex also has lights for evening games.
There are also three batting cages between the two fields for shared use by all teams.
“Our new facility will make our student-athletes proud of their school and what it represents,” baseball coach Kerry Kajihiro said. “We expect the best from our kids and want to provide the best opportunities for our kids. This stadium will provide the best opportunity for them to display their baseball talents.”