With money donated by team supporters at a fundraiser earlier this year, Shawnee Mission East’s baseball team has been able to build dugouts alongside its new turf field. And that means Lancer fans will have a chance to watch more of the defending 6A state champions in Prairie Village this season.
Head coach Jerrod Ryherd had been lobbying for dugouts for several years, noting that the lack of a protected space next to the field caused issues when weather rolled in during practice. When it started to rain, players would scramble to collect their personal gear and head for the school gymnasium, but it was hard to get all of the team’s equipment — including buckets of balls — out of the weather before some of it was ruined.
The new dugouts will provide shelter from inclement weather, but also better facilities for hosting opponents. With the new turf field completed last year, the school district gave SM East permission this season to host its home games on its own campus instead of at the 3&2 Baseball complex in Lenexa.
“Kids can’t always get a ride to go out and watch a game at 3&2 half an hour away,” Ryherd said. “It’s just nice to be able to play our home games and be able to just walk out our back steps here.”
The team has seven games scheduled at SM East this season.
“I’m all about playing more games here at home because I love having the community out here,” Ryherd said. “When we played Rockhurst here, the hill was packed. The kids feed off of it, and it’s awesome. They really enjoy playing here.”
And with three Lancer players returning from last year’s championship team — pitchers Zebullon Vermillion and Luke Anderson and outfielder Jake Randa — projectable as draft picks this summer, Lancer fans should have plenty to cheer.
The dugouts cost a total of $24,000, which was all raised through booster donations. They include a chain link cage that will be covered with a windscreen as well as wooden benches that can accommodate a team of 30-35 players.