Softball Stadium gets new look

By Tony McDaniel

Since SIU’s softball stadium’s construction in 2003, the outfield wall was nothing more than a chain-link fence with advertisements and pennants for the Salukis’ Missouri Valley Conference titles attached to it.

That was until mid-November, when Charlotte West Stadium received a minor facelift.

Now, Charlotte West Stadium’s outfield fence is completely covered in green padding like one would see at a Major League Baseball stadium.

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Andy Pettit, the associate athletics director for facilities and game operations, said it was a nice way to update the 11-year-old ballpark.

“We decided to do what’s right and put a nice padded outfield wall out there that we could advertise our historical success in that program,” he said.

Pettit said the pads were attached to the existing chain link fence and more posts were added to the chain link fence to help withstand the weight of the pads and high winds. Pettit said the wall is an inch or two taller now. He said the total cost of the project was around $30,000.

The athletics facilities at SIU are assessed annually. When softball coach Kerri Blaylock was asked what she wanted to see improved at Charlotte West Stadium, padded walls were at the top of her list.

“We felt like the outfield wall is becoming a factor in games now because of the way kids hit the ball. It was becoming a safety issue,” Blaylock said. “We really thought it would dress up the stadium.”

The project would not have been possible without the help of John Roseberry, the project’s donor Blaylock said. Roseberry was a senior scientist at the wildlife research laboratory for SIU until his retirement from the university in 2000.

Roseberry is a longtime Saluki football and basketball season ticket holder. He said after his retirement he began following Saluki softball team and was impressed by the friendliness of the program’s athletes.

“I thought it was time to give a little something back to the program that gave me so much enjoyment during my retirement years,” he said.

Roseberry returned the favor to Saluki softball with a $35,000 dollar donation.

“I wanted to give something that would result in something tangible, that I could actually look at,” he said.

The padded wall makes Charlotte West Stadium look brand new and the program cannot thank Roseberry enough Blaylock said.

Blaylock said the updated outfield wall sets the Charlotte West Stadium apart from the other stadium around the MVC. The only other facility that can boast a padded outfield wall is Missouri State’s Killian Sports Complex.

She said the improvements are a huge recruiting boost.

There are a few more improvements Blaylock would like to see to Charlotte West Stadium. Updating the wall was the coaching staff’s first priority, but they would like bullpens to be turfed to help with drainage among other things.

Roseberry said he could not be happier with how the outfield wall has changed the look of the stadium. He thinks it makes Charlotte West Stadium look like a classy venue.

He is also proud to know he has helped Blaylock in her recruiting effort with his donation.

“For all of our sports, it is all about recruiting,” Roseberry said. “Anything helps.”

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