After 3 years at city parks, Ben Lomond softball is back practicing, playing games on campus
OGDEN — Madisen Holland remembers her freshman year, 2019, on the Ben Lomond High softball team, when the team got to practice on its old field for about a week or two.
Then, the massive BLHS athletic complex overhaul project started and the old softball field, which sat west of the football field, was the first to go.
So for the next three years, the softball team relocated to Bonneville Park (and briefly to the 4th Street Ball Park) about three-quarters of a mile up Monroe Boulevard from Ben Lomond High.
“I always stressed about the kids getting over there, you know, it’s a safety thing,” first-year BL head coach Jamie Phippen said. “A lot of our kids, especially our freshmen and sophomores, they don’t have (driver’s) licenses. It’s not that it’s a far walk, but we had one of our players try and take a shortcut, and try and hop a fence and get cut.”
This season, the Scots finally got back to campus after their new stadium finished earlier this school year. The stadium is next to the new grass soccer field on Monroe and the new tennis courts on 7th Street.
“It feels like we’re part of the school again,” Holland said. “Playing at Bonneville was fun and everything, but so much happens on campus that it feels amazing being included into it even though it’s just playing on campus.”
The new softball stadium itself didn’t take three years to build, but the softball team had to wait until everything else was done with the Ben Lomond athletic complex overhaul for construction to start on the new stadium, which began last year.
“We never had fans at Bonneville Park, we now have fans. We have students coming, we have a lot of parents coming,” Holland said.
On the surface, it’s probably one of the better prep softball stadium setups in Weber County, with a concessions stand, bathrooms, an announcer’s/scoreboard operator’s box, deep dugouts with storage and protective fencing, two fenced-in bullpens, a permanent outfield fence and a killer view of the mountains.
“It’s a beautiful field. It’s got the most beautiful view from home plate, but just being able to walk outside and be on the field, it’s so nice,” said Phippen, who had spent the past couple seasons as an assistant coach for Ben Lomond.
A dirt strip just behind the home dugout will soon be a batting cage, Phippen said. Phippen also added some of the old field equipment was lost in the moving shuffle, so the program got new field maintenance equipment, too.
Logistically, being on campus takes a bunch of stress out of everyone’s day, something people wouldn’t appreciate unless they experienced otherwise.
Before the on-campus stadium was finished, Phippen and then-head coach Karen Driscoll would drive to Bonneville Park with softball equipment each day for practice and games, then bring it back to the school because there wasn’t any storage at the park.
Being back on campus also helps because the school’s athletic trainer can be at home games, which wasn’t the case at Bonneville Park where a player broke her leg last year, so the coaches had to wait for the trainer to drive over from the school.
No more players walking up the street carrying gear, or carpooling, or picking thorns out of the softball if it hits the backstop, or worrying about stepping in a hole in the outfield — all of which were staples of practices and home games from 2019-21.
“It’s really nice. It’s definitely not as hectic, having to worry about getting to a field on home games,” junior Dawnavin Frye said.
The Scots had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their first home game of the season in March to open the new stadium (even though the game itself was snowed out).
Still, dozens of former players turned out for the ribbon-cutting, which was a de-facto retirement barbecue for Karen Driscoll. She had been the softball team’s head coach for 20-plus years before stepping down at the end of last season.
The actual opening game was played March 16 and was a 20-3 win for the Scots against Judge Memorial, one of two Ben Lomond wins so far this season.
Ben Lomond’s softball team was the first team affected by the school’s massive athletic complex overhaul as it moved to Bonneville Park in 2019, and was also the last team to come back to campus — but as Phippen looked out at the field during one of the few sunny moments Wednesday afternoon after snow fell that morning, she said it was worth the wait.