Lights Go On At Husky Softball Stadium

Dec. 1, 2009

By Christian Caple
The UW Daily

The NCAA can't hold the Washington softball program down any longer.

Not now that the Huskies will be playing under lights for the first time this season, as they officially celebrated last night the addition of a set of stadium lights that were funded by donors during the UW's national title run last spring.

The Huskies spent three weeks on the road during the postseason, not returning to Seattle until they swept Florida in the championship series to win the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

If they do the same this season, they'll have the chance to do it at home. The NCAA requires all tournament host sites to have lights, mostly for television purposes.

But UW head coach Heather Tarr, standing before several TV cameras last night on the now-illuminated stadium field, said there are other benefits.

'The main reason we got lights is so we could host the NCAA tournament,' Tarr said. 'But in doing that, in upgrading our stadium so that we can play at night, it's going to allow us a `big-time' atmosphere so that we can play under the lights.'

There are eight night games on UW's 2010 schedule, including five conference games and every Friday home game.

That's something that could create a bigger home-field advantage. Plus, night games seem to have a more electric feel than day games.

'Night games are just cooler,' senior pitcher Danielle Lawrie said. 'Like the World Series, those games had a lot more people, way more packed. It's not really a crazy atmosphere, but you just ... I don't even know why it's a different atmosphere. It's just a cool thing being able to play under lights.'

A fundraising effort dubbed 'Let there be Lights!' by the UW athletic department raised about $475,000 for the installation, and athletic director Scott Woodward said the necessary funds were raised before the Huskies even lifted the national championship trophy.

'I just think these young women won the hearts and minds of a few of our donors who stepped up and made this happen,' Woodward said. 'And we're very lucky to have that as part of our priority and to be funded.'

The Huskies will also be able to have a more flexible practice schedule now. Tarr said it will be easier to practice later in the afternoon without having to worry about daylight, and ideally, players could have the opportunity to come hit in the batting cages later in the night if they want.

And it won't hurt attendance, either.

'I think it helps our fan base who can't always get off during the day because of work and family obligations,' Woodward said. 'Now they can come to night games, and hopefully, we can have a larger attendance during the regular season.'

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