The scoreboard was just the beginning.
Last spring the Duncan Wildkats installed a new scoreboard on the baseball field with help from the Arizona Diamondbacks, local residents, Duncan Valley Electric, and Carver Electric.
The improvements haven’t stopped there, however. Thanks to other corporate sponsors, including Smith Ford in Lordsburg, N.M., the Wildkats now have red material covering their once green outfield fencing and 96 tons of new professional grade infield dirt for the baselines, said Head Coach Brett Jensen.
“We did the best we could with managing the surface of the field, but we had a very coarse, gravelly, sometimes rocky infield,” Jensen said. “With that you have a high probability of injuries with balls in the infield hitting and having rocks coming up hitting players in the face, bad hops, injuries, kids sliding, injuries of that nature. That was my biggest concern there, developing a high quality playing surface for the boys to play on.”
Jensen estimates he still has about 20 tons to spread, but he still won’t be done.
“I’m still going to order some other dirt improvement stuff that is from the company out of Phoenix called Stabilizing Solutions,” Jensen said. “They manufaacture a dirt there that has a compound in it that absorbs the moisture and makes it like a good, soft, basically just like a professional major league baseball field.”
This spring Jensen will be heading into his third full season as head baseball coach. The DHS graduate has been coaching on and off at the school since 1993 and his oldest boy, Conlan, is a senior at the school and starting catcher.
He’s long had a vision for the ball field, he said.
“It’s a dream of mine to get this done. Growing up at this high school, playing here, it’s always been a dream to to give something to the boys,” Jensen said. “It’s not for me. I couldn’t care less about my name being on anything. My purpose in doing all this is to provide a quality product, field, facility for these boys to live their high school dreams, to have something they can be proud of, so they can say ‘Hey, I played on that field. I was part of that.’”
The Wildkats won state championships in 2004 and 2005 and were state runners up in 2006 and 2007, Jensen said.
“My goal is to build this program and kick it up to get back to that championship game,” he said. “Last year was the first team we’ve had to the state playoffs in 10 years.”
Still on Jensen’s to-do list? Installing new fencing along the right field line so players don’t wind up in the bleachers, improving the dugouts and installing another batting cage to maximize practice time.
Of course, all of that will take additional funding.
“If anybody is willing to donate, we’d be more than willing to put your name as big as we can on postboards and banners and hang it up here to show people the support we’re getting from the public,” Jensen said.