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Cerritos High School Finally has its Softball Field of Dreams

By Loren Kopff

 

If you build it, the championships will come. A dozen years after the Cerritos High softball team won a California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division II title, the Lady Dons and head coach Bob Medina hope to get back to the promise land with a renovated field that has been in the makings for quite some time.

Cerritos christened its improved domicile Mar. 13 with a 9-0 win over Paramount and last Friday, routed John Glenn 22-1 in its Suburban League home opener. For the first time ever, the Cerritos High softball field has a permanent outfield fence, among other sparking features that makes it among the best facilities in the league.

“When I came here, I think we had the plan already,” Medina said. “I walked in and told the administration my main job here is to come in and build a program, build a new field and take a couple of shots at a CIF [championship]. That was my plan when we first came here. The field was in the plans four years ago. We’ve been fundraising for four years and you see the results.”

The target date for completion was set for the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year but it was finished just in time for the Paramount game, which was originally scheduled as a road game for the varsity team. The outfield fence, installed by the ABC Unified School District and fixed into a thin lining of concrete, is 200 feet all the way around and four feet high. This means outfielders will no longer have to chase deep balls to the mini hill in left field or chase balls all the way to the concrete wall in right field. Permanent fencing of four feet high also extends from both dugouts to the outfield fence but from the end of the first base dugout, the fence is nine feet high for the first 90 feet before dropping to four feet high. This means any overthrown balls are kept in play, limiting the chances for runners to advance.

“We wanted to keep it more alive and [have] more exciting games,” Medina said. “Win or lose, you have the outfield fence four feet instead of six or eight feet. There are going to be a lot of home runs hit here, with us and against us. But keeping the ball in play on a wild throw for us or against us, the ball is going to stay in play with a nine foot fence.”

The backstop was moved back 12 feet and there is now concrete behind the backstop from dugout to dugout. Also, there is now netting instead of a fence behind home plate, which gives the field that college atmosphere. Medina said the netting is cheaper because in the past, softballs would be cut up in the fencing after each foul ball was hit back towards the fence and it was becoming expensive to replace the damaged softballs.

Medina said there are still plans for even more additions to the field. Future plans call for three feet high wraparound bleachers, two water fountains, electricity behind home plate, a storage bin/snack bar with a roll-up door for the scorekeeper to look out towards the field on one side and a snack bar on the other side, four new gates and a sprinkler system. Medina hopes most or all of these amenities will be completed for next season.

Since Medina took over the program four years ago, over $25,000 has been fundraised for the renovated field. He said that he pushed the players and parents really hard to get this done.

“Taking a school that never fundraised to a school that fundraised to build something like this took a toll on everybody,” Medina said. “Look at the results. Now they’re happy and they see the results. My biggest thing is four years with me, of those freshmen who came in and started playing in our program and the Cerritos way…they got to see what all of that was all about.”

Cerritos now joins Bellflower, Mayfair and Norwalk as the only league schools that have a permanent outfield fence. Artesia and La Mirada have temporary fences and Glenn has no fence at all.

“My philosophy with an outfield fence is a lot of coaches teach to run through the breakaways,” Medina said. “When you run through it, your knee or foot or cleat gets caught up in it. I would rather have the fence and curb in play with no fence, so everybody is aware of it, or have somebody run through [a temporary fence] and not be aware of it. Administration really, really took the lead on this.”

In addition, there are banners on the outfield fence from some of the people or businesses who have contributed to the upgraded field, such as Benchmark Homes, Juice It Up, Pioneer Medical, Tin Grin, VIP Batting and Grace Hu. Medina has also received tons of support from the Cerritos High administration, starting with Principal Janice Peterson.

“There are probably 25 to 30 people who I would have to remember right now to say thank you to,” Medina said. “But thank you to everyone out there. I’ve had a lot of companies step up and donate $100, $500, back and forth $25, $10. We have to thank the district for sure. [ABCUSD supervisor of maintenance and facilities] Robert Kay did a great job.”

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