by Anastasija Baranovska

Spectacular changes are being made at Madonna Athletic Complex this fall. Following the debut of the new soccer field, the complex at Newburgh and Five Mile roads looks promising for the 2013 softball and baseball seasons.

The changes include a new artificial surface at University Field, which serves as the home for Madonna softball. Also, the field was rotated 180 degrees and a new press box, raised and larger seating, new dugouts, bullpens, and a new backstop that features unobstructed views were added.

Baseball’s Ilitch Ballpark underwent several changes as well, such as elevated dugout-to-dugout seating, new press box and improvements to the sound system. Softball and baseball players will share two new tunnel batting cages.

One of the most noticeable changes is the construction of the team building that will have a concession stand, locker rooms for women’s and men’s soccer, baseball and softball, a training room, an officials' locker room and bathrooms.

The renovations according to both coaches and players will give a boost of popularity to Madonna Athletics.

“I think the renovations to the field are great for the athletic program. It makes the complex look for much better and it will give fans better opportunities to watch the games,” said Madonna baseball player Donny Holland, Criminal Justice major. “I also think that people who didn't know that the baseball and softball fields were back there will be able to see the new buildings and bleachers from Newburgh Road and will be interested into coming out and watching us play.”

The Madonna softball program has worked to spread the word around the community.

“We had our exposure camp on our field where we invite 24-30 high school girls mostly all juniors and seniors to work out with our team and then they get to play a seven-inning game among themselves. The parents were really impressed, so the word of mouth will spread like crazy,” said Al White, softball coach. “Also, it will help recruiting, as we have signed eight girls for next year already and we will sign two more in the near future.”

During the process of numerous constructions at the Madonna Athletic Complex softball and baseball teams had to make changes to their usual practice schedules.

“The renovation process didn't affect our practice schedule too badly,” said Amber Rafko, Madonna softball player, majoring in Nursing. “We were blessed to have a high school field five feet away from our field under construction so it was an easy move for us to practice for fall ball.”

“When they were doing the construction back there we kind of had to change the way we practiced so we weren't hitting foul balls into the construction area and potentially hurting the workers,” said Holland. “Because of this we were only able to have one scrimmage this fall as opposed to three or four that would normally have.”

“The players on my team are thrilled. We will be so spoiled to get to play on this beautiful field. Our freshman and sophomores will obviously get to play on it for longer, but it is a well-deserved and much appreciated upgrade. The athletic department has done one heck of a job creating this complex,” said Rafko. “I hope that the new girls coming in understand how far we've come in the past few years and that this is what hard work will get you.”



Athletic complex takes shape