CORNER BROOK Women’s softball has grown to five teams with expansion teams added two years in a row, but now the local women’s league won’t have a home field to call their own.
Corner Brook deputy mayor Donna Luther confirmed Monday that Fred Basha Memorial Park B Diamond will no longer be one of the city’s softball venues. The deputy mayor said construction of a new facility that will have Saltos Gymnastics as a main tenant is expected to get underway in the spring of 2013 in the area known as the women’s softball home for decades.
The loss of Fred Basha Memorial Park B Diamond leaves the softball community with three venues to use for scheduling of league activities — Fred Basha Memorial Park A Diamond, the Monarchs Complex and Ambrose O’Reilly Memorial Field.
According to the deputy mayor, softball user groups, including men’s slo-pitch softball, will have to work together to iron out scheduling issues, if they arise, from having one less field available. Closing down Fred Basha Memorial Park B Diamond is part of the city’s master recreation plan, but the deputy mayor said no other decisions on the future of venues for softball have been made at this point.
“There’s room for scheduling on A Diamond with regards to playing under the lights so there’s a bit of excess time there,” deputy mayor Luther said. “With scheduling, the three fields that are left, based on the number of teams involved, there’s plenty of time to accommodate the various teams that are left to play.”
She admits there are things in the master recreation plan that could come to fruition and that includes turning Fred Basha Memorial Park A Diamond into a soccer pitch down the road, but she said there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when it comes to making parts of the document a reality.
“There’s been a lot of plans that have been kicked around over the last number of years, and a lot of it depends on money, capital funding and those types of things,” she said, noting rolling out the master recreation plan will be done as the city can afford to do it.
Women’s softball league spokesperson Katy Lukeman said there will be some juggling to do this upcoming season, with regards to scheduling games for the three softball leagues, but with three available fields, it shouldn’t be too tough to work out.
“The men said they’re willing to help us along and work with us,” she said.
Still, the decision is a tough pill to swallow for Lukeman, especially since softball has shown an increase in popularity locally the past few years and, in the off years, the women’s league was the one constant presence for the sport in the city.
“We’re not really pleased,” she said. “But I guess the decision is made and we have to do whatever we can do.”
The lingering issue for the women isn’t so much that they’re losing a field — it’s that they’re losing their field.
“The dimensions are smaller, the pitching mound is shorter,” Lukeman said, noting they’ll likely have to make some changes to the other fields when they play on them next season. “We may have to put up some temporary fencing, some temporary mounds that can be changed pretty easily.
“(B Diamond) suited us.”
Lukeman said plans are in the works for the representatives of the three softball leagues to meet shortly after Christmas so they’ll be able to take to a field in May without any delays.
“The guys are accommodating because they know the predicament we’re in,” she said. “We’ve got to have somewhere to play.”