The College of Southern Maryland softball team, coaches and fans joined together April 20 at the Dugouts and Diamonds celebration on the La Plata Campus to thank supporters for their efforts in upgrading the practice and playing fields with new dugouts, reconditioned turf, an upgraded sound system and a higher outfield fence.
“The team would like to say thank you to everybody who is out here to support us today and especially to those who built this field,” said Softball Co-Captain Diana Cruz of Lexington Park at the event. “If you have a good field, you know you are going to have a great team to play on it. This is my last year here [at CSM] and it's great to have a nice field, it's definitely a lasting impression for my last year here.”
“We value our athletes,” said CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried. “They represent the college at so many different venues and whenever there is an athletic banquet the first thing I say is 'thank you,' because I am aware of the immense amount of time that they put onto the field or courts to represent us and I can never thank them enough. What they get from [participating on a collegiate team], the teamwork, the lifelong friendships, is just amazing.”
Softball at CSM began in 1979 with Danny Williams coaching the first four years. Over the program's history, the teams have earned six National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament appearances, eight Maryland Junior College (MDJUCO) championships and seven Region XX championships. The program ranked nationally among the top-15 in 1986, 1990 and 1991 under Coach John Creaturo and in 2004 placed 7th in the National Tournament under Coach Tom Morrison. Coaches have earned eight Coach-of-the-Year awards, while softball student-athletes have earned state, regional and national recognition, with eight All-American Awards. In recent program history, Mike Garner took over as head coach in 2009 and brought the team to five straight winning seasons. Jim Cleary took the helm as head coach in 2014.
“I have heard about this project for many years,” said Gottfried, who recalled that Cleary would make a pitch for upgrading the team's facilities every time they met. In addition, Gottfried pointed to CSM Vice President of Advancement Michelle Goodwin who worked on funding the project. “It was a one-two pitch,” said Gottfried of the encouragement he received to consider the project.
Dugout sponsors included, American Door Company, Chaney Enterprises, Jim Cleary, Clinton Fence, Complete Landscaping, G&B Insulation, Griffith Masonry, La Plata Campus Student Association, Lowe's of La Plata, Perspective Craftsmen LLC, R&D Cross, R&F Metals and Ron Toward.
“We are all about students. That's what this is all about and if this makes our students' experience that much better, if we're putting them in a safer environment that's what we need to be doing,” said Gottfried.
CSM supports 12 athletic teams with more than 150 student-athletes.
For video of the Dugouts and Diamonds ceremony, visit https://youtu.be/F1h5Sfj3VN0.