Expect Shea Field to be ready for Boston College baseball’s game against Connecticut on Tuesday afternoon. If the field is not ready for Tuesday, BC Athletics believes it will definitely be set for the team’s series with North Carolina next weekend. Multiple events have been relocated due to the field’s condition this spring, including two series for the baseball team-against Wake Forest and No. 1 Florida State. Four softball games have been moved off campus as well.
For the field to be in shape for play, temperatures have to consistently remain above freezing overnight, which has yet to happen in Chestnut Hill this season. While some believe that the problem lies in new sod used on the field, the problem is actually the infield.
“It’s not the sod that’s stopping us from playing,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Matt Conway. “It’s really the infield dirt and the infield clay that was affected by that overnight freeze and then thaw during the day factor.”
When the temperature freezes and then warms up in the afternoon, the infield clay turns to mud. Overnight, the moisture from the thaw ends up inside of the clay, and the infield freezes over again. As temperatures warm up during the day, moisture comes out on the infield clay and turns the area into mud again, rendering the field unplayable.
Baseball has had to relocate games to turf facilities in Brookline, Mass. which is where Northeastern University plays, and to the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston, R.I. location. Another game was moved to Smithfield, R.I., which is the home of Bryant University. Softball’s three-game set with Florida State was moved to Bryant as well. The former two are turf fields, and the only dirt part of the field is the mound, which can easily be covered overnight. Bryant’s diamond was available because temperatures have been warm enough for the field to be used.
While baseball and softball series have been moved in the past due to weather, the school’s future plans for an expansion to a Brighton Campus facility will serve as a solution to the problem. The new fields, which will be located across Comm. Ave., will be a synthetic surface, similar to those of what URI and Northeastern have, with the whole infield being turf, and the only dirt being on the mound.
The coaching staffs of both teams have been able to deal with the changes, but the wear-and-tear on the bodies of student-athletes is a concern for the athletics department.
“We really want to try to make a great experience always for our student-athletes,” Conway said. “It’s hard on those guys, because it really creates another weekend of travel for them, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
Each year, games for the start of both teams’ seasons are scheduled in the south and west of the country, where the temperature is warmer in the late winter and early spring. Baseball has already played in California, Florida, and Virginia, while the softball team headed to Louisiana, Arizona, Georgia, and Florida before returning home.