New turf for Newton

PLEASANT HILL — Newton High School’s baseball diamond infield went from dirt to turf this spring — thanks to an anonymous donor.

This Saturday, the Indians’ new turf will have its first official baseball game — rain or shine.

Superintendent Pat McBride said approximately 85 percent of the $179,000 field addition was donated anonymously.

The infield turf project is the first in Miami County, with Vandalia-Butler’s baseball fields adding turf to its baseball diamond recently.

McBride said the advantage of turf over a natural field is that teams will rarely get rained out unless it’s a nonstop rain that occurs during the scheduled time of the game.

“With the kind of spring that we usually experience in Ohio and most northern states, you will see more and more schools go to this type of field,” McBride said. “In addition, field maintenance costs are usually fixed and less than maintaining a natural field after the initial installation.”

The project was completed by Field of Play of Chardon. The turf has a 15-year guarantee with an average lifetime of approximately 25 years.

The district’s Athletic Director Gavin Spitler said, “We won’t have to worry about rain outs. The only thing we’ll have to worry about is storms, but other than that we’ll be good to go.”

In 2013, Spitler joined the Newton staff as a high school science teacher and athletic director before moving to the assistant principal position in 2015.

Spitler said the idea of adding turf to the baseball diamond began about two years ago. He said the community follows Indians’ athletics with much of the stands filling up for any of Newton’s athletic events.

“We get good crowds and have people who follow baseball and softball pretty close,” Spitler said.

Crews were putting the finishing touches to the turf, including rolling the field.

McBride said the district has continuously added to its athletic facilities in phases, including its soccer fields and indoor courts. In regards to the softball and baseball diamonds, the district added its press box and concession stand, upgraded the concrete pads, added more seating, and installed safety nets to protect spectators.

As for the turf infield, McBride said additional rubber particles will need to be replaced periodically but that is material the district would already have from installation.

Spitler, a Newton grad, said, watching the athletic facilities evolve, grow and continually improve has been rewarding.

“It’s a lot different from when I was here,” he said. “We had decent facilities — this is a whole different level of what we have now.”