Brendon Roggendorf loved calling a minor-league baseball field home, but something always seemed to be missing.
“I’d rather have a field like we do now so we can call it home,” he said.
A new era in Clinton High School baseball will begin today when the River Kings varsity team plays its first game on its very own field.
Clinton is scheduled to play Cedar Rapids Prairie at 7 p.m. on the new field located behind Eagle Heights Elementary School, 1350 Main Ave.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Clinton baseball coach Trent Snowden said. “It’s going to be special.”
Clinton’s softball team also has its own field, located next to the baseball diamond. The River Queens are scheduled to open at home against Pleasant Valley at 4 p.m. June 10.
Before this season, Clinton’s baseball team played its home games at Alliant Energy Field, home of the Class A Clinton LumberKings. The softball team has played at the Erickson Center, Jones Field and Chancy Park.
“It’s really something that’s long overdue,” Clinton athletic director Gary Lueders said. “Our softball team has played all over the place, and, as great as it is to play at the stadium, it’s not our field. We were guests there.”
That certainly isn’t the case at the new fields, where the red and black school colors, as well as the teams’ logos, are displayed prominently around the diamonds.
“It feels more like a home,” said Roggendorf, the starting catcher for the River Kings. “It means a lot that we have our own nice field and don’t have to go to Alliant. That was a neat thing and not a lot of teams get to do that, but it’s nice to have our own place to play.”
The project has been two years in the making and was funded through the school’s booster club, including money from the Restoring Royalty program.
The idea was that having fields to call their own would benefit the baseball and softball programs, including the ability to practice where they play. Both fields have lights and batting cages.
Lueders also said, especially with baseball, scheduling often was a problem.
“We were always at the mercy of the LumberKings,” he said. “We had to adjust things, and teams in the (Mississippi Athletic Conference) would work with us because they enjoyed playing there, too.
“But we’d sometimes have four games there in a week and not be back for a week or more. It wasn’t fair to our kids.”
They also had occasions where rained-out home games would have to be made up on the road because of scheduling issues.
The baseball team, which played the River King Invitational over the weekend at Alliant Energy Field, has 10 home dates this season. The softball team has five.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Snowden, in his 18th season as coach of the River Kings. “The stadium has been great to us, but there were some issues.
“This has sure turned out to be a beautiful facility. We still have some work to do, but the field looks great. It’s just going to keep getting better as the years go by.”