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Carthage schools start construction of new baseball field at high school

Mar. 5—CARTHAGE, Mo. — The podium was about where home plate will be, Carthage Superintendent Luke Boyer explained. The crowd that gathered for the groundbreaking was between home plate and the pitchers mound on the first base side.

With that perspective in everyone's mind, Boyer and others in the community celebrated a new beginning for the Carthage Tigers baseball program, a new stadium behind the high school, between the Carthage Technical Center and Airport Drive.

"Today marks an exciting milestone for Carthage schools, and I want to extend my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who contributed to the Carthage Tigers baseball park," said Holly Goodnight, assistant superintendent for business. "It's because of your generosity that we are able to bring the baseball field home to the Carthage High School campus. I want to assure you that we understand the weight of responsibility that this project carries."

The new stadium is slated to be ready for play in the 2025 season, meaning the Tigers will play one last season in a much-altered Carl Lewton Stadium in Municipal Park. That city stadium has a long history in Carthage, and many in the community wanted to see it preserved.

Carthage city workers have installed new sidewalks and concrete pads for bleachers where the decaying stone and concrete stands once stood. They've also replaced the outfield fence with a chain-link fence and installed a new scoreboard in preparation for play.

"I think it's pretty special to come back home and finish one more season out there at Carl Lewton, even though it doesn't look the same," said Carthage High School Assistant Principal Dustin Perkins, who played for and coached the Tigers baseball team.

"I also feel like it's a great thing that our community is forward-looking and ready to move on," Perkins said. "I told a lot of people in the process of this, I grew up going to games, playing games at Carl Lewton and then coaching games there and it holds a special place in my heart, but if you're a baseball fan, you understand that they tore down Busch Stadium, they tore down Yankees Stadium. Change is OK, and it's how we move forward, so I'm excited for where we're going as a program, and we've got good people at the helm."

The new baseball field will cost more than $3 million. The district has already awarded a contract for $2.13 million to ATG-Ram Industries LLC in Andover, Kansas, to build phase one of the project, which will include construction of the base for the turf field, building pads, site drainage, water retention and underground infrastructure and the turf field.

Goodnight said the district will seek bids for phase two in late March. That includes the entry plaza and buildings, including one holding the concession stands and restrooms and an officials office. The package also includes a two-level press box, visitors dugout and home locker room and dugout.

Phase one is expected to be finished in August and phase two in September.

Zachary Hoenshell, a junior catcher for the Tigers, said it will probably be a little sad playing that last game at Carl Lewton Stadium but that moving to the new field will be exiting.

"I feel honored being able to complete the last season at Carl Lewton and first season on the new field," Hoenshell said. "Finally getting to step on this field after it has been a rumor around town for a while, it's going to be a celebration and exciting. We're pumped for the new field."

Coming up For more on the Carthage Tigers baseball season, go to https://carthage tigers.net/sports/ baseball/schedule/2024.