Turf installment nearly completed at WNCC | NevadaAppeal.com

Turf installment nearly completed at WNCC

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Members of a crew from Field Turf Builders install turf on the baseball field at Western Nevada Community College Thursday. Desmond Cooper, left, stitches together two pieces of turf while Casey SImpson, right, helps keep tension on the turf. The crew is installing nearly 128,000 square feet of turf and expect to be finished by the end of next week.

Welcome to the cadallac of ball fields.

John L. Harvey Stadium on the Western Nevada Community College campus in Carson City is taking shape, with the FieldTurf synthetic field now in place. Finishing touches on the field still have to be made, but the field will be ready for use when WNCC begins fall practice on Aug. 10.

“It’s been about a 10-month process to get where we’re at now,” WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore said. Construction on the facility began on March 7.

The Wildcats will begin competition in the Scenic West Conference and the Natonal Junior Collegiate Athletic Association at John L. Harvey Stadium in February during its inaugural season. “I’m just the benefactor of a lot of people’s hard work,” Whittemore said.

The FieldTurf company is applying 2 1/2 inches of synthetic blades of grass across the playing surface. “They’re the Cadallac,” said Whittemore about FieldTurf synthetic playing surfaces.

While the turf has been placed on all the playing surface, the job of placing sand and rubber under the synthetic grass still remains. “It’s actually safer than natural grass,” Whittemore said.

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The entire playing surface is field turf, with the warning tracks in the outfield and in foul territory, the infield and the base paths being clay-colored field turf. The only exceptions are the pitcher’s mound and home plate areas, which will be regular dirt.

With the unpredictable Northern Nevada weather, the surface should prevent many games from being postponed or cancelled. The surface should also allow the Wildcats to have practice time in the stadium when conditions would have prevented otherwise.

Whittemore said many coaches take as many as 20 hours a week to maintain their fields. The FieldTurf surface will cut down on that time considerably, Whittemore said, allowing him more time for such tasks as recruiting and fund-raising.

“Having the FieldTurf is just obviously going to be a huge advantage,” Whittemore said. “The field should look this good 10 years from now every day.”

The dimensions of the park will be 340 feet down the left field line, about 370 to left center, 390 to center, 340 to right center and 315 down the right field line. The dimensions are deeper to left because the wind blows predominantly out to left.

Games shouldn’t be too high scoring since the NJCAA uses wood bats. “I think it’s going to be a very fair field,” Whittemore said.

What kind of facilities will be available for fans next season will depend on how fund-raising goes, Whittemore said.

Whittemore has 33 players in his program. “I am very happy with where we’re at right now,” he said. “The group of guys that we have coming in should allow us to be competitive from the start.”

Five players in the program have been taken in the Major League draft, including Reno High’s Chris Rickey, who was taken in 2004. The other four were taken in this year’s draft: Right-handed pitcher Mason Tobin of Renton, Wash., taken in the 15th round by the Atlanta Braves; catcher Aaron Greer of North Eugene, Ore., taken in the 35th round by the Philadelphia Phillies; right-handed pitcher Josh Brink of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, taken in the 24th round by the Braves; and infielder Tyler Jaquez of Loyalton, Calif., taken in the 45th round by the Detroit Tigers.