Friday, September 18, 2020
Sept. 18, 2020

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Fort Vancouver softball welcomes new all-turf field

Weekend tournament is first event

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

Camryn Jurcich views the new softball field at Fort Vancouver High School like looking at a piece of artwork.

“This field is absolutely beautiful,” said Jurcich, the Trappers’ junior shortstop. “We’re going to take amazing care of it, and we hope other teams that come out here treat it with just as much respect because it’s a blessing.

“Coming here and seeing the field gives us a new respect for the game.”

Players and coaches echoed similar statements describing a top-notch facility that welcomed La Center, Hudson’s Bay, Washougal and host Fort for the inaugural Trapper Softball Classic on Saturday.

The four-team tournament, spearheaded by fourth-year coach Erick Johnson, served as the official grand opening of the field that includes an all-weather turf surface, larger dugouts and bullpens, a new electronic scoreboard and upgraded sound system.

All were on display on what players and coaches described as a perfect day at a perfect facility.

Sophomore Abigail Ayala-Cordova, who pitched in the inaugural game, called it a surreal feeling, and a new way to make more memories with teammates. She and Jurcich have experience playing on turf as club softball players.

Having it at their high school facility takes it to a new level.

“I feel it brings us so much joy and more pride,” he said. … “With the turf, you see it so pretty, so you play pretty.”

Based on what he saw Saturday, Johnson said he hopes the Trapper Softball Classic continues to grow as an annual event.

Washougal topped Fort in the inaugural game, 19-8, behind an 11-run fourth inning to take the lead for good. It was the first of four games played Saturday.

The day kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony between Fort senior Hailey Vige and freshman Allison Wilushewski followed by a ceremonial first pitch thrown by athletic director Julie Pagel.

Fort is the first all-weather softball field in Clark County. As part of district-wide improvements funded by a voter-approved bond measure in 2017, Vancouver Public Schools installed turf at Columbia River, Hudson’s Bay, Skyview and Fort Vancouver high schools. Each school received an all-weather, multi-purpose turfed field, in addition to a turfed infield at Propstra Stadium, and Fort’s softball field replaced with turf stretching from home plate to the outfield.

When inclement weather arises, Pagel said Fort can be used for doubleheaders and night games since the facility includes lights.

Pagel is in her first year as athletic director, has taught and coached at the school since 1983. She also watched the project start to finish and called Saturday “an unbelievable day” not only for the games played, but for the softball program and the high school. A former Fort softball coach who works at a school with a proud athletic history, she’s hopeful the new field, in addition to the newly installed turf soccer field, helps lift Trapper athletics.

“We want to show off these great facilities,” Pagel said … “We’re trying to turn it around one little step at a time.”

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