As the Spartan softball team won their first home night game in the program's history on Wednesday, they had the opportunity to be the first to play under the newly installed lights on Secchia Stadium. Spartan baseball’s first night game isn’t until April 5.
The lights were made possible by an anonymous Michigan State alumnus who donated $1.4 million to the cause. They’ve successfully been installed on both Secchia Stadium and McLane Stadium before their 2019 season began, and the softball team was thrilled to be the first team to experience them.
“It was very nice to be a part of history,” freshman catcher/third baseman Charla Echols said. “I mean, not everybody gets to say they were here for this game, and for us to put up a performance like we did, there's nothing else.”
According to redshirt junior first baseman Katelyn Hendershott, MSU’s softball and baseball teams were the last teams of the Big Ten schools to receive artificial lighting installed on their fields. She says it’s finally time they had the lights as everyone else had them and night games were starting to fill their schedule.
“It’s fantastic playing out here under the lights,” Hendershott said. “It’s just a great experience being a part of the first team that gets to play out underneath the lights.”
The softball team plans on hosting five night games during their season, and the baseball team plans on hosting nine. These lights will ensure that gameplay can continue after the sun has set. With players on the team having experience in night games with lights from their past, they said it is nice that they can finally have that privilege back for the sport they love.
“It was pretty cool (to play under the new lights),” sophomore pitcher Alli Walker said. “I’ve played under some before, but it was really neat to be a part of the commemorative first game under the lights.”
Coach Jacquie Joseph said that having the lights installed was a game changer for both teams and that there are so many positive things that can come from them. She said that they’ll impact the crowds and possibly increase how many fans show up to cheer on their favorite softball and baseball teams.
“The lights are a game changer for the program in so many ways,” Joseph said. “It’s not just about playing at night, but it means that both teams can stay in class during the week. It allows us to also finish games we start, should we run into some weather. It also allows us to practice at different times in the fall when men’s and women's soccer teams (are) playing.”
Spartan softball hosts Maryland for a three game weekend series starting at 6 p.m. April 5.
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