Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Finding a Home for Georgetown Softball

Guy Mason Field is deserted.

Jagged shrapnel from old metal fencing is strewn across the sides of the diamond. The electrical box behind home plate is flanked by yellow caution tape. A raggedy batting-practice screen sits atop the pitcher’s mound on a muddy mess of an infield, as unevenly rutted as the dirt of a construction site.

Very soon, Guy Mason Field, located north of Georgetown at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street, will indeed be a full-fledged construction site. So far, new lights, new dirt and a new backstop have been the extent of the visible preparations for Georgetown varsity softball’s first-ever home game. But come arch 15, the athletic department hopes to treat its fans – and its community – to a partially revitalized home park.

“For us, this is a three-year project,” says Brian cGuire, assistant director of athletics for operations and facilities. “We want to have it looking as good as we can for those two games.”

Gardner-Webb will be the first softball opponent to come to Georgetown since the Athletic Department added the sport to its varsity roster last June. Coppin State arrives on April 26, and between the two matchups is an away-leaning season that takes the Hoyas through Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

Their home field will clear up as the weather dries, and it will do so with the help of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation and Who’s on Deck, a non-profit organization dedicated to youth baseball. The three groups are operating under a three-year agreement to jointly improve the rundown field.

“It’s us investing into the community for the small amount of time that we use it,” McGuire says, emphasizing that local youth baseball and softball teams will reap the rewards of revitalization, too. “The Parks Department and Who’s on Deck are excited about our involvement.”

Georgetown is no stranger to community partnership. The university recently refurbished a 320-meter track at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts so that Hoya outdoor track and field teams could use the space to practice.

The Guy Mason venture, meanwhile, actually started in 2003, before Georgetown became a member of the current three-party coalition.

“When we started this project, it was basically a sandbox where instead of dirt they had sand in the infield,” says Bob Krasne, head of Who’s on Deck. “If you’re playing beach volleyball, it’s perfect.”

At this writing, the alliance has invested in bullpens, perimeter fencing, foul poles, first-class Hollywood bases and a portable Astroturf pitching mound. According to McGuire, the university, whose softball team can call Guy Mason home in accordance with a very restrictive contract, covered 80 percent of the bill for the state-of-the-art backstop. Krasne says it ran $67,250.

The outfield, still home to patches of dead grass, has been aerated and seeded. The infield, which needs the most work, will receive soil additives. Then there is McGuire’s ambitious plan to create below-ground dugouts by the end of next season; today they each consist of a long, fence-enclosed bench at field level.

Lastly, according to the Parks Department, a summer softball program for community youth is in the works, to be staffed at least partially by Georgetown coaches.

As for the ongoing project as a whole, neither McGuire nor Krasne could speak definitively on the final cost, though Krasne did estimate that it would take six to 12 months to complete.

What they do want to emphasize, more than anything, is the support they’ve received from the community.

All the groups involved “are motivated to create a nice stadium,” McGuire says. “We’re excited about it. I think we’re going to have a real nice field for the community to enjoy.”

“Georgetown has been a delightful partner to work with,” Krasne says, “and my impression is that [softball head coach] Pat Conlan’s doing an excellent job trying to start to build a program. Hopefully Guy Mason will become a very hospitable place for the program.”

Today, Guy Mason’s hospitality is resigned to the pedestrians who prefer taking a field-side scenic route to marching up the Wisconsin Avenue sidewalk, and to the families who occupy the playground behind the dilapidated protective wall in left field.

The softball diamond is still deserted. But to McGuire, Krasne and Williams, the prospects are promising: If we build it, they will come.

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