The First Presbyterian Christian Academy Highlander baseball team finally has a true home ballpark at the St. James Sports Center and will play home games starting in March.
But the new diamond isn’t quite finished.
The school needs help to complete the outfield fence and team parents hope the community and local businesses can pitch in toward the effort.
“We need to fund an outfield fence before the start of the season…and we need to raise about $2,500,” Highlander parent Beth Lee said.
“It’s very important to the boys,” Leigh Smiley, another Highlander parent and local realtor added. “This is something that we have been waiting on since some of these boys first started playing back in sixth grade. It’s been a long time coming and we’ve been working on it for the past three years.”
Lee and Smiley both have sons entering their junior season on the Highlander baseball team and said they’ve watched the team go from the “Bad News Bears,” to a competitive team that made the region playoffs last season while playing its home games at Joseph Miller Park.
Along the way, the Highlanders own home field at St. James has taken shape. First, the grass was cut and the field was laid out.
“Last year they started with the back stop and we did some fundraising during the summer for the dugouts and Jay Osteen did a class one job for us,” Lee said, adding the dugouts are now complete and the players had a big part in pouring the concrete foundation and working on prepping the field. “The boys and the parents did most of the work in the infield and Smiley Landscaping did the grass and all that.”
First-year baseball coach Andy Yanzetich said he is grateful the team was able to coordinate with the Liberty County Recreation Department for the past few years to schedule home games at Joseph Miller Park. But he added he is thrilled the boys will have a real ball park to call home and defend.
So Lee, Smiley and Yanzetich said the boys are going to be busy as they visit local businesses in the hopes they will sponsor the team with an outfield sign.
“We are offering an outfield sign sponsorship program,” Lee said. “The cost is $250 for the businesses to get the signs and the sign will hang on the outfield fence and they can renew it annually for $150. And if they can’t afford the sign we would be willing to accept any donation they could offer.”
“It is going to give them exposure,” Smiley said about the companies that sponsor a sign. “They’ll have their advertising out here and all these people will see it when they come to the games…and if we are able to have a grand opening ceremony before our first game people are going to be out here and see who sponsored our boys and made this happen for them.”
Lee said the boys are working hard to finish the field and are working even harder to earn another trip to the region playoffs this year.
“It’s my first year here but most of the players I already know from football or basketball so we did a lot of summer workouts and have a good pitching crew coming back,” Yanzetich added. “We are real excited about playing in our new field.”
The coach said the school’s recent win in the Under-Armour Undeniable Challenge, earned FPCA $140,000 worth of athletic gear and equipment over the next three years. That won’t cover expenses such as field maintenance and construction and that’s why they are seeking support from the community.
“Our boys have a lot of spirit and the families have been real supportive… And they have a lot of heart,” Smiley said. “As for the businesses it is good exposure and there is always a large crowd at the games.”
Smiley, who is a sponsor, said other recent sponsors include VIP Office Supply, Auto Super Center, Osteen and Osteen Law Firm, Holtzman Companies, Jodey Smiley Landscaping, David Smiley, Connie and Harry Skipper, Ricky Bradley and Trevor Sikes. These sponsors have helped to bring the field to where it is today with the dugouts, diamond and back-stop, she said.
Businesses interested in sponsoring a field sign should call Kenny Lee at 432-9305, Beth Lee at 655-4785 or Leigh Smiley at 977-3401.
There is also an opportunity for high school students to earn some community service hours when the baseball team hosts a field work day from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday Feb. 2.
FPCA baseball roster and field workers:
Seniors: Matt Lormis, Richard Lovelady and Morgan Crean
Juniors: Dalton Smiley, James Phillips, Jake Lee, Phillip Swindell and Kishawn Patel
Sophomore: Kyle Hill
Eighth grade: Vincent Brunelli