Robin Petrini won't miss coaching at Nittany Lion Field.
The coach referred to the facility, which will see its last home opener tonight when the Penn State softball team (17-7) plays a doubleheader against Saint Francis (7-14), as the worst in the Big Ten, if not the worst in the nation.
"Of the big conference schools, like the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 10, Big East, ACC, we probably have the worst facility," she said of the complex located behind the Intramural Building. "The field itself is nice. What's around it is awful."
About eight years ago, Petrini said she was told a new facility would be constructed within the next couple of years. On Friday, the Penn State Board of Trustees finally approved the construction of the new Beard Field, which is scheduled to be ready for play in 2011.
The new facility will hold 1,084 spectators and will feature new dugouts, new bullpens and batting cages where the teams can warm up prior to a game. The current field is surrounded by fencing.
Though senior co-captain Ashley Griffith will not have the luxury of playing in the new stadium, the outfielder said facilities aren't important to her. What is important, however, is being able to play the game.
With that being said, Griffith does have memories of the field she is playing on for her fourth season. She especially remembers the extra inning games against Michigan and Northwestern in 2008. Though Penn State lost to both conference foes, including a 14-inning 1-0 loss to the Wildcats, it is those kind of games that the Lions will remember next year when the current facility is no longer standing.
The Lions hope to add more memories of playing at Nittany Lion Field this season, starting at 6 tonight against the Red Flash.
The second portion of the doubleheader is slated to start at 8.
Through five tournaments and 24 games, Penn State is third in the conference with a .708 winning percentage and is on a five-game winning streak. However, all of the Lions' games have been played away from Happy Valley, and Griffith and the rest of the Lions are excited to play with a home-field advantage for the first time in 2010. She said the fact the team knows the field better than anyone else helps, as well as the support of the home fans.
"It's just about having your fans behind you," she said. "And just finally feeling comfortable about where you're playing at."
Though Saint Francis has a record well below .500, the Red Flash split with Penn State last season. Griffith said the Lions didn't play their game when the teams faced off last year and didn't take care of the ball.
"[Tonight] we plan on taking care of the ball, and hitting a lot, and scoring a lot of runs," Griffith said. "We can get on top of them early and often to the point where we won't have to worry about an outcome like last year."