Shockwaves

Safety net makes Eck Stadium a more comfortable place to watch baseball

Netting down the first-base line at Eck Stadium is new this season. The Shockers begin practice next week.
Netting down the first-base line at Eck Stadium is new this season. The Shockers begin practice next week. The Wichita Eagle

I started covering Wichita State baseball in 2006 and two things terrified me from the first pitch.

The bat girls sat in office chairs by the dugout, closer to home plate than the players and coaches, unprotected from foul balls or flying bats. Fans down the first-base line sat in seats unprotected from those same foul balls or flying bats.

I saw a few fans injured, and many scared, in my 11 seasons covering games at Eck Stadium. Fortunately, I don’t think I saw the bat girls injured by flying equipment. They scrambled a few times.

The bat girls are no more. This season, fans who sit down the first-base line are protected by a net (137 feet long and 10 feet high) that runs from the dugout to the bullpen.

Good move. It will be nice covering a game where it isn’t necessary to worry about every screamer into the stands.

“(Fans) can sit there comfortably now,” WSU coach Todd Butler said. “They can talk without having to watch the ball every time it’s moving. It’s a great thing for our stadium and our fans.”

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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