The Oakland University baseball team’s biggest source of adversity isn't a fierce opponent but rather its own field.
Located in a valley the field pools with water anytime there’s rain. As a result the Oakland Golden Grizzlies have only played five of their 41 games at home, with most of them rescheduled or moved.
A three-game Horizon League home series had to be moved from OU to Chicago and Northern Kentucky because conditions were unplayable. Another home series against Youngstown State had to cancelled altogether.
"The problem is our outfield grass remains soaked with water, staying wet and soft and difficult to run on," Colin Kaline oen of OU's co-head coaches told The Oakland Press. "We just can't get it to dry when it rains this much. It's always been a problem, for sure, but even worse this year.''
Four of the six teams in the Horizon League have artificial turf.
The question has been posed as to whether OU will keep baseball around.
"No," said OU athletic director Steven Waterfield, who is in his first year. "It's more like we're going to double-down on baseball. I see a high percentage of us getting into the NCAA tournament, a really good recruiting base in our backyard and a long-time love of the sport in our area. The potential is there. We just have to get the facility right.”
As of today, the plan is to make improvements to the existing facility, as opposed to moving to a new location.
A two-phase plan that will cost about $5 million has been developed. The first phase will cost approximately $1.5 million and will involve a revamping of the drainage system and the installation of new field turf. The second will involve the installation of new lights and improvements to dugouts and batting tunnels.
"The first thing we have to do is have a playable field," Waterfield said. "We have to raise the money for this, like anything else, but we're confident we will and that it will be worth it."