DeKALB – This season, DeKalb senior Danny Petras hasn’t had to go too far to play a home baseball game, a stark contrast from a year ago.
Last season, even though the field at the new high school was in place, the Barbs still had to make the four-mile drive over to the old varsity field at what is now Huntley Middle School.
The outfield grass at the new Dresser Road school wasn’t quite ready in 2012, so the Barbs decided to play at Huntley. In 2013, DeKalb finally has been able to enjoy the new facility. Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to West Aurora was the team’s fifth game at the field, which lies just northwest of the new school.
“It’s kind of nice being able to practice out here, not have to drive across town just to get to practice every day, make it to games on time even,” said Petras, who went 2 for 4 and scored the Barbs’ lone run on a Corey Nelson sacrifice fly. “It’s pretty nice getting to play at school finally.”
DeKalb (3-3) coach Jake Howells said last year it just wasn’t worth playing at the new school with Huntley’s field in good shape. Games started later, but in the end it was a better option last season.
“It just became an issue of balls bouncing all over the place. The thing is with the other field still in such good shape there was no reason to try to push it,” Howells said. “We had a nice field, there was no reason to play on a field where the grass isn’t ready.”
The field is ready now, although Howells said there still are some minor things to do, like getting wind screens up on the outfield fence.
On April 20 after game one of a doubleheader against Dixon, the field will be dedicated to Dave Pettengell, who coached the Barbs for 21 seasons and led them to the IHSA Class AA State Tournament in 1995. Pettengell passed away in January 2011.
Something interesting about the new field which will come to play are the dimensions. It’s 380 feet out to center and 345 in the corners. With the new BBCOR bats, home runs could be few and far between, although it will get windy out there in the open.
“Three eighty’s pretty fair in center but 345, that’s deep down the lines. It’s kind of hard right now to tell exactly how [the field will] play because it’s so cold,” Howells said. “Once it heats up we’ll see more about how the field will play. Infield’s a little bit slower, and outfield is big. If you think about it that way, probably more of a pitcher’s park.”