Next week, Tech will start off the 2021 baseball season down in Baton Rouge for a mini-tournament against LSU, Notre Dame, and Air Force.
Then, Tech will finally return home.
By the time the Bulldogs take the field on February 26th against Southern, it will have been 675 days since the last home game, a 5-4 midweek win against Little Rock. That’s a reeeeally long time to not have a ballpark, and it was all thanks to a tornado that rolled through Ruston at the end of April 2019.
First and foremost, I should say the tornado caused irreplaceable damage in the form of two lives, forever lost.
It also took with it the Lady Techsters softball field and most of the grandstand at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park. The damage caused to both teams’ home fields was enough to condemn them, sending the Dogs and Techsters on the road for the foreseeable future.
For the Dogs, losing their home stadium derailed the season. Prior to the tornado, Tech won 28 games and lost 12. After losing their home stadium, they went 6 and 12. That final stretch included a huge 12-1 victory over LSU in Baton Rouge, sure. But it also included two CUSA tournament losses in two games, which made it impossible for Tech to repeat their 2018 NCAA Regional appearance.
The Dogs did their best to persevere, but ultimately there’s no place like home. The 12 Bulldogs still on the roster from 2019 have chips on their shoulder and want to come back home to the Love Shack and win.
“It feels good to be back out here. A lot of memories were made at the old Love Shack, so being able to come back to the new one and see how it’s developed and improved is awesome…The atmosphere is going to be really good, and I’m just excited to be back.”Bulldogs SR Pitcher Kyle Griffen after practicing at the new Love Shack
The New Shack
Luckily, the New and Improved Love Shack is SO CLOSE to being done. And it looks, pardon my french here, fucking BEAUTIFUL. It’s being hailed as the best facility in Conference USA, and maybe one of the best facilities in the entire country. It’s that nice.
And people are taking notice:
I mean… just look at that field!!! It’s so beautiful! If that doesn’t get you hype for spring weather (it’s 25 degrees here in DFW as I write this) and baseball, literally nothing will.
The new stadium features upgraded seating, a new video board, office space for the coaching staff, and practice facilities for the team. But the park feels familiar to most of the returning players, both in how it feels… and in how it plays.
After the first practice, the team held an intrasquad scrimmage, and it didn’t take long for the balls to start flying. Manny Garcia hit the park’s first unofficial homerun, and by the end of the scrimmage seven dingers had left the new J.C. Love Field.
Nathan, our resident Baseball Guru, will have more baseball preview content (and the gtpdd Baseball Contest) next week. For now, suffice to say that the new Love Shack kicks ass, and we can’t wait for the Bulldogs to kick ass in it.