Jaguar head coach Mason Wright is spearheading the project for troubled field.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Century's Ian Lawson throws a pitch during a Jaguar game last season at Ron Tonkin Field. The Century baseball team is forced to play the bulk of their games at the Gordon Faber Recreational Complex due to poor field conditions at Century High.
The Century High School and feeder baseball programs are seeking private sponsorship to remedy a troublesome drainage issue at the Century High School varsity baseball field.

Jaguar varsity head coach Mason Wright is seeking $300,000 that would go toward the excavation and repurposing of the outfield soil, as well as the addition of adequate drainage in an attempt to cure an ongoing program that annually limits the team from playing home games at the school.

Despite the appropriation of funding from last year's district capital construction bond, of which Century's athletic allotment is slated for turf and lights for their onsite football and soccer field, the baseball program finds themselves on the outside looking in.

"Once I got word on what the bond was going to look like for the district, we had the realization that it was looking like funding for any sort of drainage project for baseball wasn't going to happen," said Wright. "This is something we've been talking about for a while, so we had to decide if we wanted to raise money for turf, do we want to fund raise for drainage, or what? And this is what we decided."

During construction of the athletic complexes at Century, which opened in 1997, large pockets of sand were discovered in the field's outfield, which proved troublesome when trenching for drain lines. As a result, the field was completed without proper drainage, leading to frequent flooding — and consequently, the bulk of Jaguars home games being played at Ron Tonkin Field or Hillsboro Stadium.

While he's appreciative of the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex and the Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department, Wright also appreciates the value in playing home games at the school.

"We're very fortunate to be able to get games at Ron Tonkin, but there are many layers to that as well," Wright said. "How much money is the district paying for the Hillsboro Parks & Rec to let us play there, transportation can be an issue, and our student body wants to see us play, and playing at home allows for that."

He added, "Plus, every time we have to travel for games, kids are missing more class, and as a teacher in the building, that's a concern. "

In 2010, Pacific Sports Turf offered a bid of $250,000 to complete the project. At the time, the district was prepared to go forward, but lack of funding forced a postponement.

Wright said there have been talks to deal with the drainage problem, but he feels that if he can present the project to the district with some corporate funding in place, there could be a more detailed discussion about making it happen.

"I've heard rumblings that there are some talks going on to help with drainage, but the timing hasn't been solidified," said Wright. "Our goal as a Century Baseball and Reedville Baseball community, has been to look to some local corporate sponsors who'd be willing to step up and make this happen sooner."

Money would cover excavation, repurposing the soil and laying drainage, and reconstructing the outfield grass. As part of the project, for Title IX purposes, the softball field at Century would undergo a slight renovation as well, with the idea of leveling the infield and providing a higher-quality playing surface.

Wright has gone through all the proper channels in pursuit of his endeavor and spoken at length with both Century's principal, Martha Guise, and the school's athletic director, Dennis Rice.

"We've had a few conversations about what this project looks like, and our principal and athletic director have been extremely supportive with these conversations, and understanding that there are so many layers to these types of things," Wright said. "I experienced that firsthand with our hitting facility, about what it takes to get a project moving, and there are a lot of steps to break ground."

In an effort to raise money, Wright started a "Century Baseball Field Rebuild" GoFundMe page and plans to create banners for each business that donates over $500, plus a commemorative plaque with each donor's name to be placed at the base of a new flagpole near the grandstands.

"It's a lot of money, but this is a win-win for everyone if we can make this happen," said Wright. "So I thought I'd reach out and see what we can do."

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