There was a buzz of excitement in the hot August air behind Durant High School on Tuesday as two softball teams officially opened a new field for play.
The first of four new diamonds got its inauguration Tuesday as the Durant Lady Lions hosted the Colbert Lady Leopards. Lush green grass, fresh chalk and sparkling blue and red paint created an island of gleam among the construction zone behind the year-old school.
Terry Holder threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and Durant High School band member Andrew Gregg trumpeted the Star Spangled Banner as Coach Aaron Norton held an American flag at the pitcher’s circle.
The first-ever softball game on school soil saw Durant take a 5-2 win over Colbert, and gave school officials a chance to show off their newest facility.
“We appreciate Buddy Holder and Terry Holder, they’ve been out here every day for the past couple of months,” said Coach Tony Tubbs. The Holders led a large crew of volunteers who helped make the field a reality. “Keach Ballard has helped us out and given us advice. And we want to make sure we have a good relationship with the city and be able to go forward. They’ve been really good to us and we appreciate their support.”
Since the very beginnings of the softball and baseball teams, they have played at facilities maintained by Southeastern Oklahoma State University or the City of Durant. There has never been a school-operated baseball or softball facility – until Tuesday.
Plans are in the works to add a softball practice field, and two baseball fields for regulation play and practice. Localized parking is planned between the practice football field and the future baseball fields.
In the meantime, golf carts shuttled softball fans from the high school parking lot to the field, which is a slightly longer walk than at the Multi-Sports Complex. Tubbs could not say if the softball team would play again at MSC, but their next home game on Saturday morning will be at the new high school field.
A concession stand and restroom building is still under construction, so a hot dog cookout was provided, as well as portable toilets. Three sets of shiny new bleachers accommodated fans, and Tubbs said there are plans to provide covered shelter over them soon.
Home plate faces northwest, with the rumbling traffic of US 69/75 visible some 500 feet in the distance. Paved sidewalks snake through the future complex, which includes several tennis courts closer to the school.