With a new playing surface comes a new opportunity for Vanderbilt baseball to reach out to local high school teams.
The Commodores will host six high school baseball games on the artificial surface at Hawkins Field from Monday to April 15.
“That was part of the plan and part of the vision we had for our field,” Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Facilities and Game Operations Brock Williams said. “We plan for the field to be available for use 365 days out of the year. We don’t have to worry about the wear and tear or all of those things that go along with a regular turf and dirt field, so the advantage of the new surface is that it gives us the opportunity to do things like this.”
Though the date of the last regular-season high school game to be played at Vanderbilt is unclear, Williams said the decision to open the field to this many games while the Commodores’ season was still in progress was unprecedented.
Clarksville coach Brian Hetland moved an April 1 region game with Northwest to Nashville after receiving an email invite from the Vanderbilt coaching staff.
“I sent back to them right away that we were very interested,” Hetland said. “Northwest also wanted to do it, so it worked out perfect.”
Centennial coach Rob Baughman said it was an easy decision to accept an invitation from Montgomery Bell Academy coach Mike Anderson for the Cougars to be a part of the first game on Monday.
“I thought, ‘Yeah, that would be a great opportunity for us and our kids,’ ” Baughman said. “And it is during our spring break so I thought that might help them out because we’re not going on a trip. So I said, ‘Hey, at least you’re going to be able to go play at Vanderbilt.’ “
Baughman said his players were most excited that they were getting to play on the same field as former Centennial standout and current Commodores second baseman Tony Kemp.
Brentwood Academy coach Buddy Alexander said that his team’s trip to Hawkins Field on April 15 to play Pope John Paul II would serve two purposes. It will be a treat for his players and an opportunity for his coaches to examine the artificial surface up close after an encounter with new turf at McCallie last season piqued their interest.
“We are kind of evaluating if that is something we want to do at our place,” Alexander said. “I think it is a fun surface to play on. It certainly makes it a faster game.”