By Callie White
OKLAHOMA CITY (July 15, 2013) – About one year ago, the new Oklahoma Christian softball stadium was unveiled during a groundbreaking ceremony.
It was billed as a facility like none other on campus and as construction nears completion, the complex looks arguably better than advertised.
Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza will feature locker rooms, coaches’ offices, training rooms, meeting rooms, a players’ lounge, permanent restrooms, a press box, permanent seating, an indoor training facility, outdoor lighting and a 34-vehicle parking lot.
The complex will also utilize a playing surface of artificial turf, complemented by a bullpen and batting cages for both the home and visiting teams.
The stadium name, Tom Heath Field, honors the man who has served as the only softball coach in OC history. Lawson Plaza features the family who serves as the anchors in making this project a reality. Ricky and Kelly Lawson, who generously donated to make this stadium one of a kind, were simply seeking an avenue through which they could help the team and Heath.
Ricky, a 1992 alumnus, became interested in the softball program and recalled the impact Heath’s time in service as OC’s intramural director had on him during his time as a student.
A humble Heath alluded to the way the elite facility will grow OC, both as a softball powerhouse and as a university.
“We have been very honored that Rick and Kelly Lawson blessed this university and our softball program with this wonderful facility,” Heath said. “We have already had outside interest in hosting softball events throughout the year. We plan on using this facility to host many events that will promote our softball program and bring people to our campus.”
As of early July, the construction project – led by RGroup Inc. of Choctaw, which is owned by OC alumnus and former basketball student-athlete Dillon Ripley – was about 75 percent complete. The majority of the project should be finished by August, with the finishing touches to be applied in September.
Upon the completion of the facility, the Lady Eagles will boast one of the most elite college softball stadiums at any level.
“It will be one of the finest facilities in the Heartland Conference, undoubtedly, as well as one of the best softball facilities among NCAA Division II universities,” Heath said.
The Lady Eagles played their home games this past season off campus, either at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City or at Edmond North High School. Thus, the prospect of returning to campus will be a welcomed opportunity.
OC softball alumnus Kayla Jennings played four years for Heath and is looking forward to watching the Lady Eagles in the new complex.
“The stadium will be very nice and I can’t wait to see a game there,” Jennings said. “I’m jealous I’m not playing anymore. Hopefully I’ll get to play on it during our alumni game.”
While preparing to occupy Tom Heath Field next spring, the team had a very solid performance this past season.
Despite playing 37 games away from home, the Lady Eagles finished 22-22 and reached the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region title game. The Lady Eagles also earned Scholar Team status from the NCCAA after posting a team grade-point average of 3.43.