West Mifflin's new complex lands WPIAL playoff games
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Saturday, May 11, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
Who said there won't be playoff baseball at West Mifflin this year?
Even though the Titans came up an agonizing game short of qualifying for the postseason, West Mifflin will be on full display for all the WPIAL to take in and admire next week.
A pair of first-round baseball and softball playoff games are scheduled for the school district's newly constructed $2.3 million state-of-the-art, all-turf baseball and softball complex.
It marks the first time West Mifflin has been chosen by the WPIAL as a site for baseball and softball playoffs, and it couldn't have made veteran Titans baseball coach Jeff Kuzma more proud.
“It just goes to show that the hard work by our past and present board and administration all paid off,” Kuzma said. “The WPIAL seems to think that we are a quality enough of a place to have WPIAL games. It's great for West Mifflin.”
Woodland Hills and Gateway have been the closest sites to the area that WPIAL considered hosting playoff games. But with the new Titans complex opening last month, the league didn't hesitate in contacting athletic director Scott Stephenson to see if the district was open to hosting playoff games. West Mifflin jumped at the opportunity.
“We want to show off what we have and we are proud of what we have,” Stephenson said. “I am not going to lie, it is pretty much for the exposure and to show off a little bit.”
Elizabeth Forward will play Keystone Oaks at 2 p.m. Monday followed by undefeated, Class AAA top-ranked South Park taking on Yough or Knoch at 4:30. Softball will play Thursday with Serra Catholic meeting Bishop Canevin at 3 p.m. followed Montour vs. South Park at 5 p.m.
“There were a lot of people in the community against what we were trying to do for our district, for our community,” Kuzma said. “This shows we can take pride in not only baseball and softball facilities but our football facilities and soccer. Not a lot of other school districts get those opportunities. I hope everybody who wasn't on board at first realize that this is something the district can be proud of.”
All of the expenses of the games are paid for by the WPIAL with the West Mifflin baseball and softball boosters earning all the concession stand profit. West Mifflin does charge the WPIAL a rental fee, but according to Stephenson, the district isn't trying rip them off.
“We want to cooperate with them as much as we can,” Stephenson said.
West Mifflin is among a handful of all-turf baseball fields in Western Pennsylvania, including Consol Energy Field in Washington, along with Neshannock.
The complex has been three years in the making before finally opening in early April. It features full infield and outfield turf baseball and softball fields, dugouts, scoreboards and a state-of-the-art fieldhouse with locker rooms, restrooms, a concession stand and a press box.
Kuzma said the electrical system is already in place for the fields to add lights, which he hopes will one day come to fruition.
“It continues to be a work in progress,” said Kuzma, who noted the district plans to move the scoreboard out of the batter's eye in center field by next year. “We are still addressing small areas around the field. That were a lot of hard-earned tax dollars spent on this facility and it is paying dividends. I have been doing this for 14 years and I have seen some good fields with natural surfaces. But this one is one of the best in Western Pennsylvania.”
West Mifflin's Legion and Colt teams are expected to use the field during the summer months along with possible baseball showcases.
“I will go to my coaching grave saying that I want this field to be for West Mifflin,” Kuzma said. “This makes our community better, stronger and I hope our administration continues to allow this to happen.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib
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