By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
When fans fill the seats of the Portales Ram baseball and softball fields this spring, they’ll see the product of months of hard work and thousands of dollars in improvements to the facilities.
Ram Field and the Lady Ram softball field underwent the renovations to improve the dugouts and backstop area at a total cost of $19,000.
Portales softball coach Robbie Crowley said dugout renovations have been in progress for more than a year, but the focus this off-season was on improving the backstop area.
Players, parents and coaches helped in the project, but Crowley credits Portales residents Richard Vallenueva and Jake Armillo with much of the work.
“It’s reflective of the kids. They’ve come out and put their fair share (of work) in,” Crowley said. “It instills pride in them and their field. They want to take care of it.”
The backstop’s chain-link fence was torn out to be replaced with netting, and a short cinder-block wall was built. A railing will also be installed behind the field to keep fans a safe distance from the action.
Crowley said much of the money for the renovations came from off-season fund-raising.
“As far as cost, it’s been pretty cheap,” Crowley said. “All we’ve paid for is materials.”
Recent and on-going renovations to the Ram baseball field are similar to those at the softball field, as a complete over-haul of the backstop is in progress. The Rams are also upgrading their batting cages.
Portales head baseball coach Arturo Ontiveros said many of the Ram baseball players gave time during their Christmas break to help with the renovations.
“We told the kids that (these changes) were for them,” Ontiveros said. “They showed up and volunteered their time.”
Portales High School principal Melvin Nusser said both fields are very near the completion.
“Both of those fields were already (in good shape),” Nusser said. “They’re second to none in the state, and these improvements are going to make them that much better for primarily the spectators to watch the games. It’s going to be real nice.”
Both coaches say all renovations will be complete in time for the season openers in March.