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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Martinez: Heritage sees its new turf fields as gamechangers

High school sports

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: March 14, 2023, 9:45pm
3 Photos
Former Heritage athletic director Leta Meyer, right, talks with Kelso coach Dean Sorenson prior to the first Heritage fastpitch softball game played at the school's new turfed field facility on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 (Tim Martinez/The Columbian)
Former Heritage athletic director Leta Meyer, right, talks with Kelso coach Dean Sorenson prior to the first Heritage fastpitch softball game played at the school's new turfed field facility on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Tuesday was a grand opening of sorts at Heritage High School, and also a class reunion.

Leta Meyer, the longtime former athletic director at Heritage, came out to throw the ceremonial first pitch before the school’s first fastpitch softball game on Heritage’s new turf field complex.

The Timberwolves took on Kelso, coached by Dean Sorensen.

“Dean and I went to high school together,” said Meyer, a Kelso High graduate. “So this is perfect.”

Meyer delivered a strike to Heritage softball coach Lacey Olesen with a perfect fastpitch delivery, then the Timberwolves delivered an 8-1 victory over Kelso to open the 2023 season.

“I am so excited about my team this year,” Olesen said. “They’re phenomenal. … Having this facility has definitely been a gamechanger, being able to practice out here daily, even in the rain, we are able to utilize the field and the cages. It’s just beautiful out here.”

Cayleigh White hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give Heritage an early 3-0 lead. Jaila Ellis went 2 for 3 with a double and home run. She also pitched seven solid innings to give Heritage the win.

“It went really good,” Ellis said. “I felt like we all played really good as a team today.”

And the Heritage players were excited to get to play on their new field.

“The turf is amazing; I actually like (playing on) it,” White said. “And this facility is nice. It’s way better than the dirt.”

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Heritage’s softball and baseball teams were scheduled to open their seasons at home on Monday, but a heavy and persistent rain posted those openers to Tuesday.

Playing games Tuesday would not have been possible without the turf fields.

“We would not have been playing today on our old fields,” said Jason Castro, Heritage’s current athletic director and baseball coach. “I don’t think we would have been playing this whole week. I mean look at this puddle down here (by the parking lot). That would have been our infield probably. So we’re lucky. We’re blessed. And it’s pretty cool for the kids to get to play on such a beautiful facility.”

The fields at Heritage were part of an improvement project by Evergreen Public Schools to install turf facilities at every high school in the district.

Union High School was first to get new fields, with the Titan baseball and softball teams starting play on them during the pandemic season of 2021.

The fields near Evergreen High School were next to be completed last spring. The hope was for Heritage’s fields to be completed by last spring, but the fields weren’t ready until the slowpitch softball season last fall. Mountain View softball played its first game on that school’s new fields on Tuesday.

Former Heritage baseball coach Dave Pilcher, who has taught at Heritage since it opened in 1999, threw out the first pitch before Heritage’s baseball game against Seton Catholic. The Timberwolves lost 15-2.

“It was a great day,” Castro said. “It’s beautiful out and we were able to play. The scoreboard didn’t come out the way we wanted but the kids are playing hard. They’re playing together. It was a fun day for baseball.”

With the softball team coming off its first trip to the state tournament in a dozen years, there is an excitement at Heritage for the upcoming season.

“Last year, our season was entirely on the road,” Olesen said. “We never had a home game whatsoever and we were still able to make it to state. So now with the fact that we have these beautiful fields, we already have that chemistry, we cannot wait to see where we end up.”

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