Penn State Fayette to construct baseball/softball complex
Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, today announced plans to construct a baseball/softball complex on the school’s campus near Lemont Furnace.
Plans for the complex’s construction are in the early stages, according to Vince Capozzi, Fayette’s athletic director.
“I’m really excited to know that we will have another first-class facility to showcase not only Fayette athletics, but also our entire campus,” Capozzi said. “One of my primary goals when I arrived here at Fayette was to work toward building a baseball/softball facility on campus.”
Capozzi wasn’t alone in recognizing the benefits of an on-campus complex. State Sen. Richard Kasunic, himself a former baseball player, was instrumental in helping the campus secure half of the funding for the $1.5 million project and the campus’ chancellor, Dr. Francis Achampong, was also a strong supporter of the plan and worked diligently to help it become a reality.
“Dr. Achampong was really committed to this project from the first day. Both he and Senator Kasunic see this as an investment in our future in that it will help recruit and retain students for our campus,” Capozzi said. “We also had strong support from our Fayette students.”
Ryan Ehrie, the school’s assistant athletic director and a member of the baseball coaching staff, pointed out that construction of an on-campus facility will go beyond athletics. “It will be a way for us to build a sense of community not only on campus, but hopefully with local residents as well,” he noted. “What better way could there be to spend those first warm days of spring than sitting outside in the sunshine watching our teams play? I can really see our campus community getting behind our teams.”
For Head Men’s Baseball Coach Ray Smitley the construction of the complex is a dream come true. “I’m very, very excited to hear this news,” said Smitley, who has been with the program since its inception 12 years ago, serving as head coach for the past six. “We’ve been waiting a long time. I really appreciate the efforts of everyone who worked hard to make this a reality.”
Smitley noted that he believes that the complex will make both the baseball and softball teams more competitive. “It will definitely help us with recruiting,” he said.
Head Softball Coach Bethany Novotny sees the proposed complex as yet another example of the high level of support and commitment to athletics that exists on the Fayette campus.
“This will not only provide a wonderful place for our athletes to play, but will be inviting for students, faculty and staff to attend as well as add to the appeal of our campus for future students,” Novotny added.
While exact details about the complex’s design aren’t complete, Capozzi noted that the facility “will be to our spring sports what our Main Arena is to basketball, volleyball and wrestling.” He adds, “From the preliminary design we have seen, it’s going to be amazing.”
A timeline for the construction of the complex has yet to be finalized, however Capozzi noted that the campus is aggressively moving along in the process and that work on the complex will hopefully commence soon. It is not known when the fields will be ready.
With that in mind, the tentative plans will be for both teams to continue practicing and playing home games at the Hutchinson Field in Hopwood, as they have for the past decade.
“We’ve been happy to call Hutchinson home for these past many years,” Capozzi said. “And we need to thank the South Union Township Supervisors, especially Robert Schiffbauer, for making us feel so welcome.”