When walking throughout the Peeler Athletic Complex, it is hard to miss the John Kurtz baseball field, where major reno
vations have been made in preparation for the 2018 season. Students and fans of the “Green Machine” will now be able to watch the Bobcats play on their home turf with a brand new chain-link fence in the outfield, replacing the old wooden wall.
“It was a big part of John Kurtz Field, that big green wall, but I think the change is really good,” said head coach Jason Eller. “I think it’s great for our student athletes to be able to get a little bit of a late Christmas present.”
In the past, the Georgia College athletic department had spent over $10,000 a year on repair fees for the old fence. Exposure to rain and poor drainage had caused the wooden boards to rot, in addition to annual paint jobs and board replacements.
“Every year, there was more maintenance, so we decided to move to a chain-link which should last 30 to 40 years,” said Wendell Staton, GC’s athletic director. “It’s really a one-time deal, as opposed to having to deal with something every single year.”
The new chain-link fence was also built with safety in mind to create a better experience for players and fans. According to Staton, the $50,000 investment included raising the first and third base lines from three feet to eight feet to protect pedestrians from foul balls.
In the future, the athletic department hopes to add pads to the outside corners of the outfield, which will provide an extra cushion for players on the run.
“Hopefully we will be able to make more plays up against the wall, and once they get the padding down, I think it will look good,” said senior center fielder Logan Mattix.
With the new fence in place, fans will be able to watch the game from behind the outfield wall for the first time. Prospective college baseball players can watch the outfielders up close and personal, while home fans can heckle the visiting players.
Furthermore, the team hopes that students leaving the Recreation Center will see the game in action and stop to watch some innings.
“Maybe we can create a home field advantage,” said Coach Eller. “We hope that it brings more people to the park.”
While the GC athletic department is excited to start the season with the new additions, the old green wall will still represent an important piece of history at John Kurtz Field.
Mattix stated that he will miss “hearing the loud bang off the wall” from line drives and batting practice. Eller said he will remember the big defensive plays made by the Bobcats last season.
However, the new fence also represents the start of a new chapter for GC baseball.
“We won the Peach Belt Tournament last year, so we’re defending tournament champions,” Eller said. “Our goal is to be the regular season champs and hopefully host the southeast regional.”
For Mattix, he hopes to end his final season as a Bobcat with the chance to play this summer at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I think we have unfinished business from last season,” Mattix said.
Opening day for the 2018 season will kick off on Friday, Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. against the Paine College Lions.