Dakota Wesleyan breaks in new turf at Drake Field in first game since renovation – Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — The long-awaited debut of baseball on the newly installed artificial turf at Drake Field at the Cadwell Sports Complex finally arrived on Monday, April 25 as Dakota Wesleyan baseball hosted a doubleheader with Morningside.

“It is just so rewarding to complete a project that will benefit so many people, including us,” DWU athletic director Jon Hart said.

Hart, a former DWU baseball player, threw out the game’s first pitch to celebrate the completion of the turf installation.

“Super excited to be playing on it, it’s beautiful,” Hart said.

The first games on it Monday were emblematic of why artificial turf is becoming more necessary in the Great Plains to play in the spring. Cold weather moved a Sunday set of games to Monday and to a field that the Tigers can consistently count on with regards to quality. A formal dedication and ribbon-cutting event is planned for 12:30 pm Friday, April 29, ahead of DWU’s doubleheader with Jamestown at Drake Field.

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Dakota Wesleyan University hosts Morningside University for a baseball doubleheader at Drake Field for the first game on the ballpark’s new artificial turf on April 25, 2022.

Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

The turf was recently installed in March after supply-chain issues pushed back the initial installation, which was planned for last September. The project replaced the dirt and natural grass of the infield with artificial turf that covers the infield, backstops and bullpens. The outfield has roughly 6 feet of turf before changing back to natural grass to the outfield fences.

Once workers completed the installation, the turf needed at least a few days of temperatures above 45 degrees to make sure the glue would hold. Colder temperatures through April pushed the debut games back a few times, but last week’s warmer weather gave the field the time it needed to be ready for Monday.

Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Baseball Association both pledged $65,000 donations for the turf project, while the Drake family, who the field was previously named after, pledged $30,000. The Mitchell Exchange Club also pitched in with a pledge of $15,000.

“Now we have something I know we are all really proud of,” DWU head coach Charlie Dubanoski. “Very cool to see us come together with Mitchell Baseball and the city of Mitchell.”

Dubanoski gave praise to Jeremy Nielsen, the complex manager at Cadwell Sports Complex, for the work he did to make the turf a reality.

“I can’t give Jeremy enough credit out here for running Cadwell and Drake,” Dubanoski said.

the installation of the turf is supposed to solve two big issues; limit the amount of weather cancellations while reducing the normal wear and tear produced by the large amount of use the field gets.

In game one of the doubleheader, Morningside took a big lead in the top of the third inning as Aiden Bishop’s grand slam gave Morningside a 6-0 lead.

The Tigers fought back, eventually cutting the deficit to just one run thanks to RBI-doubles from both Cameron Quigley and Daulton Wilcoxen, but a two-run homer in the seventh from Morningside’s Hunter Hope put the game out of reach as the Mustangs pulled away for the 11-5 victory through seven innings.

Wilcoxen had two hits in three tries along with a walk, finishing with two runs batted in, while Drew Kitchens added two hits of his own with a run scored in the losing effort.

In game two, DWU took an early one-run lead before Morningside scored four unanswered runs, eventually taking the 5-3 victory. Quigley and Drew Kitchens had two hits apiece for the Tigers, but Morningside’s Carter Ades led the way with two hits, two runs and one run batted in.

Thee Mitchell Chamber of Commerce will be holding a Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the City of Mitchell’s Parks & Recreation Department on Friday, April 29, prior DWU’s doubleheader with Jamestown.

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