WEST ALBANY – The fields are ready for a face lift.
The directors of South Colonie Girls Softball league plan to upgrade two softball fields this month, before the umpire shouts “play ball” later this spring.
The decades-old league lists its home as the West Albany
Pocket Park in Colonie. The park is near the Albany City line tucked between Braintree Street and the CSX train line that runs parallel to interstate 90. It has eight fields and provides an opportunity for over 115 girls (and growing) to play softball each year.
League president Adam Evans and vice president Amanda Francese will lead the renovation project slated to begin this spring that will include remodeling the park’s two main softball fields. They expect it will take two days to demo, and they hope to be done by the end of April.
Field one, which consists of the scoreboard and lights, is the league’s most used field and is in great need of repair. It contains uneven dirt that Fancese described as a “skee ball ramp.”
“I watched a girl hit a ball right into that area and it really shot right up that lip like a skee ball,” she said.
She added that players could trip over the uneven area and fall while attempting to catch the softball.
It also has drainage issues that need to be mitigated. When it rains, the field floods.
According to Evans, it got to a point where it became a safety issue.
“It’s not just how it looks,” Evans said. “We just felt like it was time to step up and have this done.”
Field two will be completely leveled and the red stone surface will be replaced with marco clay and new turf grass sod.
The league has considered the field reconstruction for a few years, but when Evans and Francese came on board, they wanted to make the fields a priority.
Drumm’s Turf and Sawmill L.L.C., a Schuylerville-based company specializing in landscaping services, will level, grade and install the sod.
Other landscaping materials will come from Northern Nurseries. The first phase of project, leveling, is slated to begin this week, weather dependent. and will take two days to complete.
The goal is to have renovations complete prior to the start of the first night of game on Tuesday, April 25, or hopefully by opening day.
New features will include a slushie machine and an ice cream cooler for the concession stand, repairing water sprinklers and repainting dugouts with colorized logos. Two of the dugouts will have repaired roofs courtesy of the Town of Colonie.
On Saturday, April 29, the opening day festivities will feature a parade, a silent auction and games. Local dignitaries and Southpaw from the Tri-City ValleyCats will make appearances.
In addition to the games, the league members want to have more events at the park to encourage visitors and softball players to come and see what’s happening. Evans wants to bring back a softball coaches game that used to occur during game season.
The overall cost to fix the two softball fields is estimated at $30,000 and the League will pay for field renovations through sponsorships.
“Field one will cost around $11,000. Field two is actually little more,” Evans said. “Field two’s material on the infield contains red stones that are not ideal for a playing surface.”
Evans said that due to the removal and replacement, it needs more material. The repair cost for the second will be closer to $18,000.
“So between the two fields, it’s going to cost $30,000. But the sponsorship committee was already able to raise about two-thirds of the money we needed to do that,” Evans said.
Francese said the organization has sent out over 200 letters to local businesses to get the renovations, and they are well on their way to reach the goal.
“We have 33 sponsors all together. Team sponsors, field sponsors and website sponsors,” she said.
In addition to the sponsorships, the league will host travel tournaments at the park. The entrance fees from the events and concession generate additional revenue.
In the future, the league would like to fix the remaining six fields in the coming years.
“Not only is South Colonie Girls Softball leaving the park better for who will use it for the future, it will encourage kids and our children to continue to play in sports. It is a benefit to them and the community,” Francese said.
The history of South Colonie Girls Softball
“I don’t know how long West Albany Pocket Park has been here because the West Albany Athletic Association, which is who we technically are, has morphed over the years,” Francese said.
According to Francese, the association has been around for quite some time according to its bylaws. It originates back to the 1960s or ’70s when it was under a church organization.
“The most recent change was about four years ago or so when we changed from South Colonie Ball, where we were offering both baseball and softball to just South Colonie girls (Softball),” Francese said.
South Colonie Girls Softball changed West Albany Pocket Park to all softball in 2019.
“We have a little league field at Cook Park and rather than competing with each other, South Colonie Girls Softball was brought over here and baseball is now at Cook Park,” Francese concluded.
A total of 115 girls have registered for this season and registration for travel players and players for the 14U and 16U rec team is currently open. Young girls who wish to become a South Colonie Raider can register online on the league’s website.
Girls can first join the sport at age four with T-ball, then graduate to 8U, 10U, and 12U. 14U teams.
“The one thing that’s probably surprised me the most in getting involved in South Colonie Girls Softball is the generosity of the community,” Evans said. “We all benefit. Our daughters get so much out of the league.”
“It really brings the community together,” Francese said. “Especially in a community as big as Colonie, that’s a nice thing.”wait for the weather to break a little bit more and a little bit more consistently. We’re hoping for maybe the second week of April to start. It’s only going to be a two day process from my understanding. And we can get on the field(s) right after that. Our goal is to have that done and then we’re supposed to start the first night of games on April 25.