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The eve of Eck's all-turf era

Crews worked until around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday and plan to work late again tonight at Eck Stadium. Mike Tinch, AstroTurf’s manufacturer’s rep on the site, wants to get Wichita State baseball on the field to practice at 2 p.m., Thursday. He thinks it will happen.“I’m 90 percent sure that they will be practicing baseball here tomorrow afternoon,” Tinch said Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll be back at 7 in the morning to put Coach (Gene) Stephenson and the Shockers on this baseball field. I know they’ve got a big grand opening coming up on Saturday and we want it to be nice for them and ready to go.”The biggest remaining job is installing the warning track. Other than that, Tinch said it’s just a few finishing touches. The Shockers, who are doing voluntary workouts at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, can’t wait to get on their new surface.“Unbelievably excited,” outfielder Ryan Jones said. “It is the coolest and the best field I think I’ve ever seen. And that includes in the bigs, anywhere.”From Tinch, some factoids about the AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D.

Using something the company calls “AstroFlect,” Tinch said the turf reflects heat instead of absorbing it. The turf won’t heat up like the old stuff.The turf fibers also contain an “antimicrobial” which is supposed to help prevent infections should players with cuts or scrapes slide on the turf.Tinch estimates the field could take two inches of rain and be ready to go 20 minutes after the rain stops. The only area that will need a tarp is the pitcher’s mound. When the rain stops, the rest of the field is ready.Maintenance is minimal. WSU will use a sweeper to groom the turf and pick up debris before games. Minimal yearly maintenance is recommended.Tinch said we won’t see the clouds of infill stirred up that is common on other turf fields. A “root zone” keeps the sand-and-rubber infill from flying up. He said that makes the turf stable and safe.WSU will use its fall practices to get a feel for how the turf plays. Tinch said his company can make the turf play faster or slower, largely by controlling the amount of infill.

“We custom make this thing to what your team wants,” he said. “You want it to play faster. You want it to play slower. You want it to be taller. You want it to be lower. We have total control over that.”

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