When Mother Nature’s fury blew through town last Thursday, some local athletic facilities felt her wrath.
Cleveland High School’s softball field and the McKenzie Baseball Complex at Bradley Central bore the brunt of the damage, plus both schools’ soccer fields were also affected.
At CHS’s Brenda McKenzie Field, the first base side bleachers were flipped over and landed partially on the field, ripping down the backstop netting.
At BCHS, damage was done to guttering and the roof of the baseball field house and press box, plus one of the large poles that hold up the backstop netting down the third base line shifted, breaking one of its support blocks. Also some of the left field wind screen was ripped.
On the north end of the county, the only harm reported at Walker Valley was that one of the guide cables that hold up the backstop netting at Mike Turner Field broke free.
Luckily the damage at all of the sites was limited to facilities, as one of the fields was in use at the time of the fierce winds, called a gust front.
“There was a (summer) team practicing on the field at the time and some of our (sponsor) signs got blown off the outfield fence and into Raider Drive,” expressed CHS softball coach Connie Stobert. “Luckily no one was hurt and the players (who were practicing) even went and retrieved our signs out of the street for us.”
The Lady Raider head coach said some of the tin roofing on the dugouts was also loosened. The extent of the damage to the aluminum bleachers will not be able to be determined until they are flipped back over. They are currently straddling the block wall at the base of the backstop area.
“Our AD (athletic director Mike Collier) is getting with the insurance company to see how much damage (moneywise) was done,” coach Stobert explained. “We’ve got a lot of debris, so we’re probably going to have a ‘cleanup day.’”
“We also had some damage to the bench areas at the soccer field (Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex stadium field),” related Collier. “As far as I know, none of our other facilities were affected.”
The soccer goals at Bradley were thrown 30 to 40 yards and overturned.
Bear baseball coach Travis Adams said he felt fortunate the metal support pole at his team’s facility didn’t fall. “If it came down it could have taken out the field house, the press box, the bleachers, a dugout or the restrooms. There’s no telling how much damage it would have caused if it fell.”
The harsh winds evidently caused the pole to sway back and forth, causing the securing block to break.
The same winds also blew over the bench in the left field bullpen as it ripped the bottom of the wind screen away from the eyelets that secured it to the fence.
“I don’t see any way to repair that (wind screen) with the way it’s ripped like that,” commented coach Adams.
The rain gutters along the back side of the field house were also pulled away from the building and buckled, while numerous shingles left bare wood showing through on the roof of the pressbox/concession stand building.