February 2014

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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24 SportsTurf | February 2014 S portsTurf asked the following turf managers who maintain softball diamonds a few questions on how they make their skins better. • Tyler Clay, University of Washington • Herb Combs, CSFM, Athletic Field Supervisor, Intercolle- giate Athletics, The Pennsylvania State University • Jason DeMink, CSFM, University of Michigan • Eric Harshman, Assistant Sports Turf Manager, University of Kentucky • Tracy Schneweis, Sports Turf Manager, America Softball As- sociation Hall of Fame Complex • Darren Seybold, Director of Athletic Surfaces, University of Tennessee What combination of clay products, amendments, moisture and maintenance routine do you use to keep the pitcher's circle in top condition? Seybold: The infield consists of a high density red clay mate- rial that helps us produce a firm but not hard surface that can absorb a lot of water but not lose its ability to produce a quality footing, as well as smooth ball/surface interaction. Our team in the past has been built around the concept of speed and therefore the coaching staff wanted a "hard" surface. This material allows the agronomy staff to have enough water in the profile to provide the infielders with a tremendous fielding surface as well as ac- commodating the teams need to have a fast surface for their hit- ters to slap hit and steal bases. DeMink: We patch daily and apply conditioner as needed. The only amendment we use is a natural clay enhanced with polymer. Combs: We use mound clay for our pitching mound and cover it with a thin layer of amendment. The mound is repaired daily and watered as needed. To help maintain the overall quality and moisture of the mound we tarp when it is not in use. Harshman: I water the infield (pitchers circle included) at least three times a day, if not more or less depending on weather conditions. I try to water the infield first thing in the morning. The first watering of the day consists of a heavy soaking, making sure the entire playing surface is well saturated evenly through- out. I then follow up with a water cycle before or shortly after lunch, cutting back on the amount of water from the first cycle of the day but still making sure to water evenly throughout the entire playing surface. The final water cycle is done right before practice or before a game. This cycle is done quickly, applying the least amount of water for the day. If done correctly the play- ing surface will keep a consistent moisture level for the entire practice/game. Our infield mix consists of a high density red clay. All main- tenance repairs to the infield (pitching lane, batters box etc.) are done with this same clay. Our infield conditioner helps in maintaining proper and con- sistent moisture management. Like most infield conditioners this product breaks down over time and I apply fresh, new ma- terial when necessary and try to remove whenever possible. There is no difference in my maintenance practices for the pitcher's circle. All maintenance practices for my clay surface are treated the same way for 100% consistency. Clay: The upkeep of our clay surfaces (pitcher's circle, home plate and bullpens) consists of daily maintenance and repair of any holes which have resulted from practice or play. Our primary amendment used is a finer granule when compared to a basic Advice on maintaining softball infield skins Field Science Leaving your finished clay work a fraction of an inch below the rubber will promote less digging, and limit the opportunity for the surrounding surfaces to build-up. —Tyler Clay Field #1: Sherri Parker Lee Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Photo courtesy of Darren Seybold. Field #2: Husky Softball Stadium on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Tyler Clay. 1 2

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