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State bill would require dugout netting on all publicly funded baseball and softball fields

Posted: 6:48 PM, Apr 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-10 19:48:04-04

Stray balls, it’s something both fans of baseball and softball and those who play them have come to terms with.

In the blink of an eye, the ball off the bat winds up chasing players rather than the other way around and for those in the stands, it can be just as dangerous.

Now, state senator Jonathan Perry of Kaplan wants to mandate all schools in Louisiana that receive state funding install nets in dugouts.

"The student athlete’s safety should always be first but for me as a high school coach its a budget issue," says Erath Coach Jeremy Picard.

Picard is in his third year as head coach at Erath and says that safety shouldn’t come with a price or mandate from the state.

"You know, high school coaches start out with nothing in their budgets, they gotta raise the funds to run a successful program and to get the things that these kids deserve. For us, it’s just an added cost that I just don’t see us needing to incur, Picard said.

Here at Erath, coach Picard says it already costs the school more than $10,000  to maintain its baseball and softball fields. While adding additional fencing may not sound like much, Picard says it’s just an additional expense that he says simply isn’t worth it.

"For me, $4,000 to fix a dugout is taking away from a kid for travel expenses or something in our budget that may be more of a necessity for our program," Picard explained.

Erath players like Masonn Granger agree with their coach but also know not every field is like Erath’s.

"Here, dugouts are pretty far away from home plate. We have a lot of netting to make sure everything is safe for everyone, but a lot of places you go to,  dugouts are really close to the on-deck circle right next to home plate. So if you’re not paying attention you could definitely put yourself in a lot of danger.

Aas schools evaluate their budgets, Senate Bill 311 is now on the house side awaiting to be introduced to the Committee on Education.