SETH — The Sherman High School baseball facility looks to lay down a new turf infield that will be seamed together with the previously carpeted pitching mound, thanks to the generous contributions of 37 different businesses.
“Most of these folks want to remain anonymous, and we will respect that,” said Sherman Head Baseball Coach Jeremiah Pettry. “We are overwhelmed and really thankful for their fast response and helping us push this project forward.”
Pettry will attend an early July board meeting with Boone County Schools where he will outline his work on the project and funding commitments, as well as seek advice on what other steps he must take, including whether to put the project out for bid.
“I definitely will look for their guidance in respect to how this works,” Pettry said. “I want to make sure, with their approval , that I handle this the right way so that our kids can benefit from this.”
Serving as the skipper for the Tide for the last 11 years, a position his father Aaron Pettry manned in the 1990s, the younger Coach Pettry has made a positive impact on Tide baseball. His teams won three-straight sectional titles and produced all-time great Tidester diamond dandys like John Hunter, Baylee Kirk and most recently, fire-balling strikeout king J.T. Hensley (2019).
Hunter (2014) was known for donating his time to manicuring the field with his coaches during his playing days.
Pettry said the new carpet will allow for more time on the field due to less time maintaining natural grass.
“It allows us to spend our time on the field,” he said. “We spend four hours a day in February just to prepare for March. I’d like to spend that time doing baseball stuff directly related to the game and the kids.”
He added, “You can get them on the field earlier in March, play your fall ball without that maintenance, you can have other games on the field along with more practice time.”
Pettry said similar infields for schools around the state run in the $110,000 range installed, and Sherman is ready to make that commitment.
“We are looking for a local turf company to do it and we aren’t adding any graphics. I do want to add the on-deck circles at some point with our ‘ST’ on them. That is a future project and pretty inexpensive, but it will add a lot.”
Pettry said he has talked with coaches in the George Washington High School program; what he will present to the BOE is virtually the same infield the Kanawha County program employs.
The coach, who is a former maroon-and-gold slugger, said his main concern centers around a window of opportunity in August before fall sports kick in, providing that the WVSSAC proceeds with fall sports amid Coronavirus concerns and protocol. Spring sports were canceled altogether because of COVID-19.
“I think that if we are proactive and planning for fall sports moving along as scheduled, I see August as the perfect month to get this done,” he said. “Our entire program is really excited. Our staff, the kids and our parents are supportive of it.”
Pettry said he is learning about drains, weed barriers and limestone as part of the turf process.
“When I got into the research years ago, I realized that it was far more complex than I realized,” he said.
According to Pettry, the 66-ounce turf is a newer surface for baseball that also employs the tiny rubber pellets of its predecessors. The Tide already has a turf pitching mound, which would seamlessly blend to the infield.
“We’re looking at about a 20-year lifespan, which is pretty incredible,” he said. “Buffalo High has a 42-ounce turf and it has been down for 22 years.”
Pettry said he isn’t approaching the BOE for financial help with the project.
“We don’t need money, we have that all taken care of,” he said. “We just need permission to kick it into gear and get started. Our program will benefit from this in so many ways and I can’t thank our donors enough for supporting Sherman High School Baseball.”