UNA breaks ground on new softball facility

Trenedy Parks, Staff Writer

The University of North Alabama’s softball team has broken ground on the construction of a new indoor softball facility, which will sit directly next to the team’s regular field. The new building is supposed to be an area for the softball team to relax, study and provide opportunities for extra practice.

“We went back and forth with the idea of just doing a hitting area, just amping it up and doing lots of cages and a lot of other great things hitting-wise,” said Ashley Cozart, UNA’s head softball coach. “But I really wanted a space that we could also hang out in. I wanted a game table, a lounge area, an academic area where we could study. So we actually broke it up into two spaces.”

The new facility will have two areas indoors: the recreation area and the practice space. 

The recreation area will have a kitchen and a lounge area. It will include a tv and couch along with an academic space. 

The practice area includes a covered hitting space and two large hitting bays, along with an agility area. The cages will be able to retract into the ceiling. This would create a large turf area to use as an extra practice space and can serve as an alternate field in inclement weather. 

“The largest benefit this new facility will have for the team is recruiting,” said Cozart. “We have to compete against Stanford, UAB and Troy. They all have this, and we don’t, and so now this will really help us get these recruits by bringing the ‘wow’ factor to our field. Since we’ve been here, we’ve made a lot of renovations to our field, but this will really bring it all together.”

The funding for the project came from the family of Hilda B. Anderson, who has given considerable amounts to Florence, the University of North Alabama and women’s sports programs. The planning for the facility has been in progress since before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This has been a project that has been in the works for three years,” said Cozart. “COVID had hit, and that year was pretty much a wash. Then we tried to get it back on track, and then we had some hiccups, and so we are relieved that it’s all finally starting to come together.”

Cozart added that UNA’s softball program would have put money into the facility anyway, but the transition into Division 1 helped to speed the process along. Construction is already underway, and the final walk through is scheduled for Feb. 8, 2023.