Baseball team deserves improved facilities

Taylor Bicht, Sports Editor

The Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees voted on Feb. 8 to explore using De Anza’s baseball field for temporary parking for two years while the Flint Parking Garage is closed for repairs.

The field would be “replaced in kind,” said Donna Jones- Dulin, associate vice president of college operations. “This means there would be no upgrades to the field but that it will probably be in better shape than it is today because it will be level.”

Replacing in kind is not enough. The baseball program deserves more than a field that will probably be in better shape after the construction.

The repercussions from the project will leave the Dons without a home field for two years – one year serving as a parking lot during garage construction and another year while an the field is being restored. Not having any home games will be an interesting dynamic, but one that De Anza head coach Erick Raich is prepared to experience.

“If you want to win a state championship, you have to be comfortable playing on the road,” Raich said. “People adapt to their surroundings and situation. I think our guys would welcome having nice venues to play at.”

A nice venue is something De Anza definitely does not have. It’s been a blemish even before ace pitcher Alex Zarate arrived on campus in the summer of 2014. Zarate said the coaches pushed the players to fundraise and many volunteered to fix parts of the field but much still needs to be done to improve the overall quality.

“The outfield is below the level of the infield,” Zarate said as he outlined what he believed need to be fixed. “The dugouts are old and worn out.”

Raich and Zarate agree that the entire perimeter fencing should be replaced as well, as it is currently an eyesore and not up to par with other college baseball fields.

With the current state of the field, the Dons are excited at the opportunity to play on the road for the next two years as it gives them time to experience better facilities around the state. Getting playing time on better fields will give the players valuable experience away from the imperfection they currently play on.

“It’s an advantage because we will practice and play at nicer venues than what our current field is,” Raich said.

In fact, he said, Consumnes River College won a state championship in 2008 while playing all their games on the road during construction.

Future changes to the baseball program will be major and they are welcomed. Current and future De Anza players will be challenged by the potential changes and it will be their response that decides how far they will go.

“Don’t let the environment affect the effort level that you’re capable of initiating,” Zarate said. “Lots of hard work went in, so it’s going to be to be an amazing site coming back to see what the improved field will look like.”

Raich and his coaching staff have put in a major effort to revive the baseball program at De Anza and they deserve state-of-the-art field, not just a replacement.