ELKINS - When the bats start cracking this spring, the Elkins Tigers will welcome some much-needed improvements to their baseball field. More than 50 volunteers have spent the first few weekends of March cleaning up the field and preparing it for the home opener, set for March 27.
Lisa Severino, project chair for the EHS Baseball Facilities Improvement Committee, said the group has already raised nearly $18,000 to make upgrades, including new bleachers on the visitors' side and paving an access walkway to them. She said the group hopes to eventually raise enough funds to build a press box and install batting cages.
"The new bleachers are a big improvement," Severino said. "In the past, there was only one set of bleachers for everyone to share. Not that there were any problems, it's just a little uncomfortable to watch with the other team's fans in a competitive environment. They were also crowded, because some teams bring a lot of fans with them."
A group of volunteers have spent the first few Saturdays of March working to improve the baseball field at Elkins High School. New bleachers have been added to the visitors side and an access walkway is being paved this weekend. The EHS Baseball Facilities Improvement Committee is working to raise funds to build a new pressbox and batting cages, among other upgrades.
Severino said the committee is also in the process of making repairs to the existing bleachers on the home side, which are condemned. The bleacher repairs will be finished in time for opening day, she said.
"Elkins is known for having very nice baseball facilities," Severino said. "We just want to bring the high school facilities up to the same standards as what we have for Little League, Babe Ruth and American Legion. These improvements will benefit a lot of kids for years to come."
The group has already received $5,000 donations - one from Mike Ross Inc. and another from Don and Camille Phares in honor of their son, Mike Phares - along with a $2,000 grant from the Snowshoe Foundation and $800 from the EHS Alumni Association in honor of the late EHS sports legend Roy Simms.
An anonymous donor provided a drain pipe and Southern West Virginia Asphalt donated stones to fill in a drainage ditch. The group has also hosted several fundraisers at Bob Evans and Applebees, along with selling 50/50 tickets at EHS basketball games.
Severino said a sign will be erected to recognize donors once the projects are complete. She said more financial donations are needed and people are encouraged to donate in honor of loved ones.
Donations can be mailed to Elkins High School c/o the EHS Baseball Facilities Improvement Project, 100 Kennedy Drive, Elkins, W.Va. 26241. A Facebook page titled Elkins High School Baseball Facilities Improvement Project was also created to follow the group's progress.
The Tigers open the season Saturday with a double-header at Musselman beginning at 2 p.m.