Baseball gets lights for first time in nearly 30 years

John Law, Sports Writer

For the first time in almost 30 years, the Bloomington South baseball team will be able to play night games.

After South won the sectional title in 2016, there became speculation that lights would be installed around the field sometime in the next five years (see Will baseball be lit? discussing those rumors).

Finally, last spring, the parts for the lights were rolled in and placed behind the left field fence; it looked as if baseball was going to have lights very soon. However, the parts sat in the same place all spring, summer and fall only to collect dust.

Strangely, the lights were installed in the frigid winter, instead of in warmer weather, but Coach Phil Kluesner has no complaints. One of the light poles, reportedly, hit the water pipe for the football field while being installed, but that will most likely be dealt with after the baseball season.

All Kluesner could say was “they’re freaking awesome man,” but Coach Eric Dodds was able to give a full explanation.

“The real difference is they’re the state of the art LED lights, so they can really light up the whole field,” Dodds said.

Dodds further explained that in the spring of 1989 there was a tornado that came through Bloomington and the wind gusts were able to knock two of the old light poles down and onto South Drive.

“After those two poles were knocked down, they just came through and chainsawed all the other ones down and we haven’t had [lights] since,” Dodds said after clarifying with legendary freshman coach Kevin Gross.

The absence of lights in the past put several annoying restrictions on the baseball program. Without lights, they weren’t allowed to host their sectional because of potential night games and scheduling inconveniences. Additionally, they had no choice but to be the visitor to teams that are more than an hour away simply because if the game was played at Groh Field, it would be dark before the game ended.

Now, all that has changed, and the baseball team has a bright future, literally. After a frustrating 2018 season, the Panthers are likely to have more success this season because of a stronger pitching staff. Coupled with that, Kluesner’s squad has been riddled with injuries in the past two years, specifically two former star players Tyler Van Pelt and Alex Franklin, both current Indiana University baseball players.

Hopefully South will be able to host the baseball sectional sometime soon and use playing at home to their advantage. As most athletes know, it is exponentially more comfortable to play at home than to get on a bus and compete elsewhere.

 “It’s much better playing at home since you get to see everybody you know and all your supporters…the lights make the field look so much better too,” junior Brayden DeMier said.

If you want to check out the lights and cheer on the Panther baseball team, Kluesner, DeMier and the rest of the baseball  team will play every week from now until school gets out and hopefully far into June to reach their goal of winning state.