NIANGUA, Mo – The Niangua Cardinals’ baseball field is receiving much needed improvements after former Superintendent TJ Bransfield acquired a grant from the MLB to repair the battered field and update the team’s equipment.
Clint Gazette is the current principal, athletic director, softball coach and high school girls basketball coach at Niangua High School. Gazette hopes to have the ball field completely renovated before the 2022 spring season as the field’s tendency to hold massive amounts of water has caused several games and practices to be canceled in the past.
Gazette told The Heartlander that the right field and left field both had a six-foot drop where most of the overflow rain gathered. There was also a dip in the field between first and second base, causing river-like bodies of water to form and gradually pushing the pitching mound towards home plate.
The field conditions have deprived past Cardinals teams of playing experience as canceled games are not always easy to reschedule, Gazette said. Due to poor field conditions, last year’s baseball team didn’t get to play a single game at home.
When the MLB was considering schools for their grant program, the organization was particularly searching for a school who had been struggling to get kids onto the field and wanted to help make their program more desirable and presentable.
The Cardinals turned out to be a perfect candidate for the grant and are already capitalizing on the funds awarded to them. The team has purchased new bats, helmets, a pitching machine, lighting and other much-needed renovations. The field has also been stripped, leveled and completely resurfaced.
Additionally, a few community members are chipping in and building a ‘Cardinal’s Nest’ directly behind home plate for announcers, a scorekeeper and a new concession stand.