Missy Gators turn ‘swamp’ into field of dreams

Published 11:00 am Monday, February 10, 2014

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The “Swamp” has appeared out of the jungle.
Saturday morning, Vicksburg High School girls softball coach Brian Ellis, his players, some willing parents and volunteers from Home Depot ignored the cold and the mud from an overnight deluge to continue their labors to transform what was a derelict, overgrown softball field into the “Softball Swamp,” the future home of the Missy Gators softball team on Army Navy Drive.
“We’re hoping we’ll have it ready to play our home games in the spring,” Ellis said as he surveyed the field — which resembled a swamp, with puddles and gooey, thick mud.
Saturday’s agenda included measuring and marking the first and third base lines and left and right field foul lines, removing scrap metal and old fences, painting and installing bleachers and painting the outfield fence, a job done by volunteers from The Home Depot.
“They’re going to be putting on a green stain,” Ellis said. “The Behr (paint co.) representative donated it. When he heard the Home Depot employees were going to paint the fence, he said he would donate the stain.”
Saturday’s efforts were the latest chapter in the project to transform the field into a first class facility. Work began in October after Ellis saw the field while driving along Army Navy Drive.
When he first saw the field, it was overgrown with vegetation.
“The infield was all grass, it had taken over the dirt,” he said. “You couldn’t see the hill (pointing east toward nearby VHS). We managed to get the grass off the field, and the city came in and cleared out the area. They’re going to clear out some more over there (pointing to a still overgrown area to the south).”
Work on the field was done by the team and volunteers during weekends. The team raised money at raffles, sold discount cards, and held other activities to get the money that paid for new chain-link fencing and wood for the outfield fence.
The concessions and restroom building at the site was taken down, and will be replaced in the future with a locker room for the team and restrooms.
Currently, he said, the team shares a dressing room with the other girls sports. A two-story concession stand and press box will be built behind the field’s backstop.
“We have come a long way since day one,” Ellis said. “It has been a major effort from the team and the parents working on this. This is something they will own and be proud of, and something that Vicksburg High School will be proud of.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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