Pioneer Valley Regional athletic fields get makeover

  • Varsity baseball coach Jordan Branson and junior varsity coach Ben Tufano stamp new clay for a pitcher’s mound at Pioneer Valley Regional School on Tuesday. The PVRS Sports Boosters, a parent-led nonprofit that supports the school's athletic programs, paid for new infield clay to resurface the three softball fields and two baseball fields. Staff Photo/Zack DeLuca

Staff Writer
Published: 7/1/2020 5:33:56 PM

Between this week’s intermittent showers, coaches and student-athletes volunteered their time to lay the foundation for future fields of dreams at Pioneer Valley Regional School.

According to the Pioneer Athletic Director Ernest Abramian, the PVRS Sports Boosters, a parent-led nonprofit that supports the school’s athletic programs, paid for new infield clay to resurface the three softball fields and two baseball fields at the Northfield school. Varsity baseball coach Jordan Branson and junior varsity coach Ben Tufano were stamping the clay for one of the pitcher’s mounds on the baseball field Tuesday. They said some student-athletes may volunteer their time later in the week.

“Twenty cubic yards of dirt might not be this exciting to most people,” Branson joked as he stamped the clay on the mound. “I think, with as hard as the kids work, we should work hard for them and make their fields nice.”

According to Branson, the cost to deliver would have been “twice as much” as the clay mixture itself, but a volunteer gave their time and truck to pick up the clay from Sheffield Pottery. According to Sheffield Pottery’s website, the all natural baseball clay mix is 50 to 60 percent clay and 40 to 50 percent sand. Tufano said the clay mixture should be moldable but not clump up. Branson said the field was so dry it was “blowing away” last year.

“We’re laying the foundation, literally,” Branson said.

He said he hoped to further his vision for more field improvements over the next few years or so. Though just ideas at this point, Branson said future projects could see the construction of traditional dugouts that are three-feet in the ground with a covered structure, bullpens or a new scoreboard.

“I want people to come here and say this is one of the nicest fields in Western Massachusetts,” Branson said.

Branson and Tufano said they have both been coaching at Pioneer since the 2017 season. They said they have been working to build up the baseball program, and Branson noted the varsity team had made the playoffs the past three years prior to this spring’s canceled season due to COVID-19. Like the students, the two said they missed being able to play games this spring.

“Baseball’s my favorite thing in the whole world,” Branson said.

He said he had “high hopes” for a nearly normal season in 2021. The team purchased new uniforms for this season, which they said will now be given to next year’s squad.

“Next season, we’re hopefully going to have the kids looking good, and feeling good, on a good looking field,” Branson said.

While the students are the clear beneficiaries of the field improvements, Branson said the whole community will really benefit. In addition to pick-up games, several area summer teams practice on the diamond.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.




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