Field pretty as a picture

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 14, 2014

PLAY BALL: The Picayune Lady Tide softball team practice for the upcoming season at the Lady Tide Park.  Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

PLAY BALL: The Picayune Lady Tide softball team practice for the upcoming season at the Lady Tide Park.
Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

Since 2003, the Lady Tide softball team has called the field on Central Avenue home.

Head coach Kristi Mitchell takes great pride in the field and buildings, even making sure to cut the grass on the field herself.

Mitchell said she became coach of the fast pitch softball team when the program was started in 1999. Previous to 1999, the school only had a slow pitch softball team.

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Mitchell said when the team first started they practiced at Friendship Park.

“The people were always wonderful, the organization that ran it and the city was very cooperative in letting the team play there,” Mitchell said. “However it was tough because we had to work around all the other programs that were there and we could never put our own identity on it.”

In 2000, Mitchell and the school started talking about getting a field of their own and in 2003, Picayune High School “stepped up and built us a beautiful softball field,” Mitchell said.

The following year, Mitchell approached her booster club board members with an idea for a field house and indoor batting cage.

“It was a dream of mine to have a facility that the girls could go in on the cold and wet days, but it took quite a task for that to happen,” Mitchell said.

She said she had five “very special and hardworking” parents on her booster club board at the time and when she approached them with the plan at the first meeting of the year, they agreed and started working on getting the money to build the field house.

“I thought they would just laugh it off, but they didn’t,” Mitchell said.

After five years of hard work, planning and $68,000, the Lady Tide was able to get a field house for the girls. The field house includes locker space, a room for the players to condition and weightlift, a 2,000 square foot indoor batting facility, a coach’s office, a shower, and washer and dryer so that Mitchell could take care of the players’ uniforms.

“You hear a lot of churches say they build on faith, well that’s what we did,” Mitchell said.

She explained that each time they raised enough money to do a certain project they would do it. So when they raised enough money to buy the dirt to lay the foundation, they laid the foundation. Mitchell said the concrete slab sat there for two years before the team raised enough money to build the structure.

“The community was unbelievable as they always are with helping us out,” Mitchell said.

The $68,000 was raised through donations, fundraising and community efforts, Mitchell said.

After the structure was finally built, the school stepped in to install a HVAC system and the maintenance department helped with the finishing touches.

Mitchell said the city, county and school is currently working on making better drainage for the area around the field and creating more seating for the Lady Tide fans.