S.F.A. Says No to Ballpark - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

1/29/08 - Nacogdoches

S.F.A. Says No to Ballpark

by Ryan Peterson

Terry Lehman was fierce and determined.  She felt her son Eric, a senior pitcher had been lied to three years ago. 

"Will you be a university that makes false promises to get students to come to your school," Lehman asked the S.F.A. board of regents.

Lehman's strong words could not save the 14 million dollar baseball and softball complex.

"I simply do not believe that this project can go further," S.F.A. President Dr. Baker Patillo recommended.  Falling short of the 25 percent needed in fundraising, the project is a no go.

Athletic Director Robert Hill knows parents and players are upset, but says the money and support just wasn't there.   He hopes they can make more improvements to the current city ballpark.

"Our stadium is not as good as some stadiums in the league," Hill says.  "It's not as bad some in the league."

Hill later met with both the baseball and softball teams.

"We were just told that they are going to put all the money that they raised in this field right here," Senior Outfielder Zach Gardner says of the 'Jacks current stadium.  "They're going to try and lease the property so they have control of this field."

"Whether we play at a professional ballpark or high school field we're going to give the same effort," Gardner added.  "It's just disappointing that a promise wasn't upheld."

Head Baseball Coach Donnie Watson, who has used plans for the new stadium as a recruiting tool, is disappointed in the announcement.  But he's not surprised.

"You look at the big picture," Watson says.  "And I think the president has made the decision that's in the best interest of our school."

But is it at the expense of the baseball program's future? Hill believes the programs will be fine.

"I see no harm to our recruiting," Hill says.  "There are hundreds of young men in Texas who want to play college baseball."

Watson says the announcement does not change his future with the program.  He'll just working harder in recruiting.

"You can come here be the best ballplayer you can possibly become," Watson says.

S.F.A. players don't have time to worry about the ballpark.  Practice officially begins Friday.

 

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