Alya Mehrtash staff writer
Mikaela Rabizadeh editor
The softball field is now set to be closed until 2024, as of Feb. 22, despite what members of the softball team had been told last year.
Last March, the softball team lost their field to a construction project that began in May. Fans and players of the team were originally told that they would have the field back in approximately 270 days. They were recently informed, however, that this is no longer the case. Team parents, including athletic trainer Colleen Davenport, had repeatedly inquired about the status of the construction project and were disappointed when they were informed of the new delay.
“I felt like it was a bait-and-switch because when we were told last year, they told us 270 days,” Davenport said. “Then in January nothing happened, so we asked again. Another parent asked the city council and didn’t really get a straight answer and it kind of seemed like it was maybe going to be longer than 270 days.”
However, District Athletics Director Tim Ellis claims that the reopening of the field did not have a projected end-date to begin with, leaving it up-in-the-air from the get-go. According to Ellis, the fate of the field depends on the time it takes to completely cap the oil wells.
“There was no original date [for reopening.] A number was thrown out, 270 days, and they thought it was going to take that long to close the oil wells. When they got into the oil wells, there were a lot of problems in terms of being able to cap those properly, and so it went to somewhere around 2024,” Ellis said. “Their estimate was before they got into the wells. They thought it would take only  days for the 19 wells to be done. Most of them are in excess of 8,000 feet long, which nobody realized, and so there’s a whole process.”
Though the baseball team usually practices at La Cienega Park, there are times when the two teams must share the turf field. Co-captain senior Estella Rosen feels that the sharing of the turf field has come as a disadvantage and affects the team’s practice and gameplay.
“There is a reason why there are differences between softball and baseball fields,” Rosen said. “Without having a softball field of our own, we are not properly prepared when we travel to other schools with the proper fields. Practicing how you plan to play is a big aspect of sports and this is difficult when we don’t have a proper softball field to play on.”
Sophomore Reina Paysinger has seen some improvement with hitting, but feels that the team is still not able to improve to its fullest potential as a result of the field closure.
“Every day we hit. So, our hitting has gotten better, but it doesn’t help our fielding. It doesn’t help us as a team and as players to only be doing one thing at a time, and I just don’t think it’s okay,” Paysinger said.
Ellis, on the other hand, believes that the closure of the field does not necessarily impact team rankings.
“Team rankings are going to be on how you win and how you lose,” he said. “[The girls have] facilities to practice and so I don’t think it has a lot to do with really anything. They still have the ability to [practice in] the batting cages, they’re still here at the pitching machines–the only thing that’s really changed is the softball team is not playing at Roxbury and they’re playing on campus.”
To Davenport, the original closure of the field was in some sense unfair, as well.
“It sucked. It wasn’t fair. They had to go to a park rather than finish out their season on an actual dedicated softball field,” Davenport said. “Now we’re talking five, almost six years from the start date which was not the bill of goods that we were sold last year. It’s frustrating.”
To her, it would have been preferable if they were told right away that the project would take longer than just 270 days.
“It just would have been nice if all of this had been stated up front. Everyone would have been prepared for it, and then you deal with the sadness right when it’s stated upfront,” Davenport said. “But, when you’re told one thing for a while and then all of a sudden the story changes, and now it’s five years of waiting, that’s frustrating for the fans of softball because it’s just not the same.”
Despite the difficulties of having to share the field, Rosen acknowledged that it is something that they have to come to terms with it.
“Part of being an athlete is realizing that the conditions aren’t always ideal,” Rosen said. “Unfortunately due to splitting the field we don’t get to work on our improvement areas for longer than the time we have before we have to switch with baseball.”
While the delay poses some difficulties for the softball team, Ellis acknowledged that the work on the oil wells is not a process that can be rushed.
“I think everybody in the community would like everything to be done quicker,” he said. “But, construction’s construction and you can’t hurry construction along.”