Letter to the Editor: Resident requests upgrades to Mt. Laurel softball fields

Joan Buehler discusses how the township's softball fields are in inferior condition compared to the baseball fields at Laurel Acres Park.

As a new resident, I very much enjoyed reading about the accomplishments of the Mt. Laurel Softball 10U and 12U teams at the USSSA National Championships last month (Sun, Aug. 7-13, 2019).

However, I was surprised when I visited three of the four township fields designated for softball use (Larchmont School, Harrington School, and the Turnpike field complex) and saw that the facilities the girls’ programs use are far inferior to the Little League baseball fields at Laurel Acres Park. The softball fields have uneven dirt–only infields (except for weeds), no lines, old sagging backstops, treacherous trenches for batter’s boxes, and a couple of metal bleachers for spectators. Only Larchmont had a reachable bathroom – a Porta-Potty in the parking lot.

Contrast these fields with the finely tended baseball fields at Laurel Acres. I’m told by neighbors whose daughters play that only boys baseball teams are permitted to play there. These beautiful, grass-infield fields have permanent lines, foul poles, new fencing, overhead canopies covering spectators and all the dugouts, and a building with a snack stand and indoor bathrooms.

As both recreational youth programs are run by non-profit, community-volunteer organizations, I can only conclude that the baseball organization is more successful in attracting corporate sponsors to help subsidize its field maintenance and the purchase of permanent field fixtures. But I wonder, was the girls softball program ever even given the opportunity for field space at the township’s premier sports complex when space there was being planned and allocated, probably years ago?

Regardless, I salute the accomplishments of all the 2019 Mt. Laurel girls’ softball teams—the Storm, as well as, the undefeated USGA Mt. Laurel Diamonds! I look forward to following all our girls’ teams’ progress in successive seasons. Hopefully, in the future—even if their fields are never improved–we’ll see some of those players star for Lenape High School and beyond.

Joan Buehler