Emma Foree has lived on Crabb Ave. across from the Eminence Independent Schools’ softball field for four years.
During games she has come to expect fouled-back softballs landing in her yard or closer.
Last year during tournament play a ball flew through an open window.
“That’s something I can’t explain to this day,” she said. “The ball landed right on my son’s bed.”
Another time, a ball hit Foree’s awning and rolled onto the porch, her vantage point to watch games. “There have been a few pings and pongs here and there,” she said, “a couple of cars have been hit.”
Eminence City Council member Lee Ann Armstrong brought the issue to the school board’s attention in the board’s April meeting after neighbors complained of balls hitting houses.
The board assured Armstrong the district would look into a solution.
During its May meeting, the board approved installation of a new backstop. Superintendent Don Aldridge recommended approval of the lowest bid, $5,200 to Nationwide Fence Company, Inc.
Aldridge attended a game last week and personally witnessed three balls go over the backstop and into a yard.
“I didn’t realize how many times that happened,” he said. “The backstop is tall enough, but it doesn’t go out. It needs to come out over home plate.”
The new backstop can’t arrive soon enough for Foree. When tournament play began last week, she was ready. “I was prepared and already had the window open,” Foree joked. “I’ve got my duck and dive down.”
Foree enjoys watching the games, but has been concerned.
“It’s dangerous for cars going through,” Foree said. “Thank goodness nobody’s gotten hurt.”
The work will take about a week once the timing is coordinated with softball coach Tim Jones’ practice and game schedule.
“What they have to do is take the whole thing down,” he said.
Aldridge said old posts will be removed and new heavy-duty ones installed. Nationwide Fence representative Michael Robinson said the weight of the fabric and frame used to create a flat top over the batting area requires the bigger posts.
A chain link fence blocking the south driveway to the softball field was installed earlier this month.
Aldridge said drivers were throwing gravel into neighbors’ yards. Patrons now must use the north driveway to enter and exit the property.
“We want to have good relationships with the neighbors,” he said. “We want to do the right thing.”
“I can’t wait to see the improvements,” Foree said.
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