Softball’s foul balls cause trouble for the javelin team

Javelin players and coaches still struggle with softball interference, even after changes were made.


Henry Kaus and Jessica Miller

The javelin throw area and the softball field sit adjacent to each other in the southeast corner of campus. In past seasons, foul balls would land in near the javelin runway.

By Ashley Sample, Staff Writer

     The cancelation of spring sports bought time for Tigard to solve the space conflict between the softball program and track and field—specifically the dangerous area beside the varsity softball field and the javelin runway.

     “The javelin competitive area and practice area is right in between the track and the softball stadium,” javelin coach Erik Smith explained. “When the softball ladies are at bat and they hit a foul ball, they hit it up in the air and over the net and basically right into where we practice.” Smith said it is a little bit safer now after Eagle Scout Jackson Lines, with some assistance from the district, built a leaning roof to protect javelin throwers from incoming softballs. He says javelin throwers are still vulnerable to being hit by softballs if they are on the runway or anywhere except underneath the small covered area.

     “We are at risk of potentially getting injured by softballs,” Smith said. “As a parent here at the Tigard-Tualatin School District, I was miffed because they put up a net to prevent this from happening, but […] they put the net right over the existing fencing of the softball area and that wasn’t close enough to us, so basically they are hitting it over the net, over at us.” Smith said he had heard the fences had cost over $10,000, causing him further frustration that so much money was spent on an ineffective safety measure.  “They didn’t ask [me] or any of the softball people how to do it,” Smith said. “They just said, oh, softballs are getting hit into the javelin area, let’s just put up a higher net, but they didn’t put the net high enough.”

     Smith wishes his team and the softball team had been consulted before the money was spent on the fix. “It’s disappointing because if you were going to do it effectively, you would look at the problem and how to best solve it instead of just throwing money at it and not have anything help,” Smith said.

     Junior Jackson Brandow throws javelin and has seen softballs fly into the javelin area. “It’s annoying when it happens but it’s even more annoying when the softball girls don’t care and think that they did nothing wrong and don’t apologize,” Brandow said. He believes the softball facility should receive higher foul nets to solve this problem. “It’s frustrating; they think they have some superiority over the facilities or something and that we have to stop what we’re doing to accommodate them,” Brandow said.

     “Now that we have the barn, I don’t think we will be hitting on the field as much, but last year softballs flew over at least once every practice,” sophomore varsity softball player Sera Reilly said. “I would never purposely aim to hit the balls over; I do not know if other people on my team try to aim [for that] but I personally do not try to.”

     Varsity softball coach Pete Kostel is aware of the problem. “I’d say it happens a handful of times a game,” Kostel said. Retrieving the softballs, according to Kostel, can be tough at times while a javelin practice is ongoing because of the caution the softball team has to exercise. Kostel believes that to solve the problem, the school must either move the softball field or move the javelin runway. 

     “There are safety issues surrounding the space between the softball and javelin throwing area,” Principal Brian Bailey said. “We’re a little bit stuck with [this] design because of where the softball dugout sits.” Bailey explained that there are limitations on where they can put poles for the fencing but that he believes safety is something the school is always looking at.

     “When you’re balancing a comprehensive athletic complex, you’re always going to have the potential for conflicts between the two events, but we are constantly looking at ways that we can upgrade for everyone’s safety,” Bailey said. He added that any conflict between softball players and javelin throwers happened prior to him coming to Tigard.