The softball program at Washington is unquestionably one of the best in the country, and it will soon get a big boost.
Ground was recently broken on the Softball Performance Center, a 5,500-square-foot indoor training facility that UW softball coach Heather Tarr said is “huge” for the program.
“To have an opportunity to have these gals like, ‘I’m going to hit at 10 p.m. I am going to turn on the music, put in my airpods and go turn on the automatic machine’ — that’s a game changer,” she said. “We can’t do that right now. … It’s a huge thing for our program.”
Chip Lydum, the UW athletic department’s project manager, said having an indoor practice facility had been talked about for many years, but it really started getting serious the last two years.
A spot was finally picked out — and approved — close to the softball stadium.
“The where was a pretty challenging aspect,” Lydum said.
But with that decided, and with donors lined up to completely fund the $5.25 million project, the vision will soon become a reality.
The facility is expected to be finished this fall.
Up to five athletes will be able to hit at any one time, and the center will be large enough for infield drills on its AstroTurf synthetic surface. There are cameras throughout the facility, allowing coaches and athletes to review tape.
“I can’t wait until the (players) have it,” said Tarr, whose team is 13-2 and ranked No. 5 in the nation. “It’s going to be beautiful.”
She could have been talking both inside and outside. The 40 trees near the construction site were either unmoved or replanted, and 30 additional trees were planted.
The indoor practice facility will undoubtedly be a help for the team when it comes to recruiting.
“Right now, we share the Dempsey Indoor (Center), so it will be an opportunity to see how good we can get, and to not have any restrictions on the time we put in outside of practice,” said UW pitcher/first basemen Kelley Lynch. “We can develop ourselves, whether that’s at 10 at night or maybe early in the morning. I am really excited.”
Said outfielder Jadelyn Allchin: “I’m excited to have our own space and to really focus on ourselves. … I think it’s a great opportunity we have been given.”
Lydum said the project is a bit personal to him.
“I have been here long enough in that I was involved in building the (softball) stadium (in 1994) when Heather (Tarr) was a player,” Lydum said. “It’s cool to fast forward, (27) years later and work on a project where she is the head coach. It has come full circle.”