There are four current members of the Louisiana Tech softball program who know what it was like to play home games on campus, at the Lady Techster Softball Complex.
The former home to the program of almost 40 years was destroyed by the EF3 tornado that swept through Ruston in the early morning hours of April 25, 2019.
Senior Zoe Hicks, juniors Lindsay Edwards and Hannah Koenig and interim head coach Bianca Duran played all or part of their collegiate careers at the old field, across Tech Drive from J.C. Love Field, home of Bulldog baseball.
Tonight those four plus the rest of their 2021 team will get to experience a new high when they host Tarleton State at 6 p.m. in the first game at Dr. Billy Bundrick Field. The softball program’s home has been relocated, rebranded and vastly enhanced.
“Today starts the new journey and history of the program on Dr. Billy Bundrick Field, this team will be the first to have stepped foot on the field and leave their first mark,” said Duran. “To those that have left their mark on this program, we remind the players to know your name and who you are because you were a part of this facility being made possible.”
Tickets are not available for this weekend as Louisiana Tech is already at its COVID-restricted capacity for the tournament. However, all four games involving the Lady Techsters will be streamed live on CUSA.tv ($$).
Although the stands won’t be full due to COVID restrictions and while many of the areas surrounding the field are still under varying stages of construction, tonight will truly be historic.
“Even though I am not playing this weekend, it’s is a surreal feeling,” said the injured Edwards. “The stadium is nicer than I ever thought it would be, and I’m so thankful it was done in time for our tournament.
“I would give anything to be out at third this weekend, but even getting the chance to be in the dugout and finally feel the presence of our fans is going to be a reminder of how much support our program has had through every obstacle we have faced. It’s a feeling I have looked forward to having since that Western Kentucky series in Monroe we played after the tornado. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.”
Although practice on their new field has been going on for the past month, nothing will compare to this Friday night’s lights.
“I could not be more excited,” said Hicks. “It’s been almost two years since we’ve played a game at home. We’re starting a new era at such an incredible park, and I cannot wait for my teammates, the coaches and our fans to be able to experience the atmosphere.”
Tech is scheduled to play Tarleton (Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m.) and Baylor (Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Sunday at 11 a.m.) while the Bears and the Texans face off twice (Saturday at noon, Sunday at 1:30 p.m.). The new facility is adjacent to the north end of the Tech track complex and slightly uphill and a couple hundred yards from the east side of Joe Aillet Stadium.
“The Ruston community is so close and has the most supportive fans,” said Koenig. “It means a lot to be able to play in front of them and have them be a part of our program at home. We are so blessed to have a field we can call home again, and I am so thankful for all of the hard work that has gone into it.”
PHOTO: by Tom Morris