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March 1, 2021

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Turf fields starting to grow at Clark County high schools

Union, Camas get all-weather baseball, softball fields with more schools to come

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
10 Photos
Rolls of artificial turf is stacked up around the new field installation projects at Union High School, Oct. 27, 2020.
Rolls of artificial turf is stacked up around the new field installation projects at Union High School, Oct. 27, 2020. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

When Rory Rosenbach first arrived in Clark County, he saw something missing compared to the rest of the region.

“I realized there were two turfed fields for eight 3A and 4A high schools between Evergreen and Vancouver public schools,” Union’s athletic director and football coach said, referring to the all-weather surfaces at Kiggins Bowl and McKenzie Stadium. “I was like ‘Wow, we’ve got to catch up a bit.’ ”

Five years later, the number has climbed to eight with more are on the way.

This fall, improvement projects are ongoing to install artificial turf fields for baseball and softball at both Union and Camas high schools.

“It’s fantastic and honestly about time,” Rosenbach said. “The plan is to get all of the (Evergreen Public Schools) schools with a similar facility (upgrade). And I think circumstances, timeline, costs led them to do us first. So we became the benefactors of that, and, man, we are super excited.”

At Union, the varsity and junior varsity fields for both baseball and softball are receiving new all-weather turf fields that will include lights.

“We even have lights on our tennis courts,” Rosenbach said. “We have four tennis courts and between our two tennis teams, there are a couple hundred kids. So to get them all practice time is tough when we don’t have lights. So that was big deal as well.”

The JV baseball field is also a multi-purpose field that can be used for soccer and football practices, which will augment the turfed football/soccer field installed during the summer of 2019.

After Union’s project is completed — which Rosenbach estimates will happen in February — work will begin at Heritage and Evergreen high schools. Mountain View’s improvements will come when the new campus construction is completed.

In the meantime, Mountain View will be sharing Union’s fields for the next two years.

“And we’re more than happy to do that,” Rosenbach said.

Over at Camas High School, the finishing touches are being put on two new turf fields — one replacing the current varsity softball field and the other replacing the current JV baseball field.

“We felt like we had a really nice grass field for our varsity (baseball team) already,” Camas athletic director Rory Oster said. “It was one of the nicer playing fields in the county. So if we were going to keep one (grass) field, it would be that one. And then we would do the improvements to the current JV field, which was not so nice.”

Oster said the Papermakers will have the option of playing varsity games on either the grass field or turf field, depending in weather conditions.

“It gives us the option of playing in weather that we wouldn’t have had the option before,” Oster said.

The turf fields are the first of two phases on the project. Construction will soon begin on an indoor hitting facility, which will be located between Cardon Field and the tennis courts.

“It will have multiple cages, all turf so we could do some infield workouts,” Oster said. “And it’s another teaching facility for PE classes as well.”

Three years ago, turfed fields for baseball and softball in Clark County were limited to Luke Jensen Park, which was the home for King’s Way Christian’s baseball team.

But now fields at Camas, Union, Heritage, Evergreen and Mountain View will soon be added to all-weather fields at Fort Vancouver High School, Propstra Stadium and the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Center.

“The county is finally catching up to the rest of the state and Oregon in providing some turf baseball and softball opportunities,” Oster said. “And that is going to help the level of play in the county.”