It’s the biggest softball stage in the state, and the inspiration for players all season: Bogle Park on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.
The Pottsville Lady Apaches are the defending 4A state softball champions.
“To have so much pride in Arkansas here we know that is the pinnacle,” Pottsville Head Softball Coach Greg Jones says.
Jones has brought his team to Bogle Park three times in his eight years, but last year he won his first championship.
“When you get up there you know, you really feel like you’re playing in the best stadium around,” Jones says.
Even though the team is defending its title–this year, it won’t be at Bogle.
According to the Arkansas Activities Association, the plan was to play in Fayetteville, but the University of Arkansas is now hosting its first regional NCAA game that same weekend.
‘Plan B’ was UCA, but the university is also hosting an NISC tournament.
So they moved to ‘Plan C’, which is Benton Schools Athletic Complex.
“To be playing at a high school, don’t matter how nice of a high school it is, it’s still a high school,” Nate Saul, a softball player’s father said.
His daughter Sadie is a freshman and this year would have been her first time playing at Bogle.
“It’s the best stadium in the state, it brings a great atmosphere, it’s the Razorbacks,” Saul says.
The AAA sent KARK a statement:
“Monday morning our staff reviewed multiple softball facilities around the state. After reviewing the sites, it was decided to host the softball finals at the Benton Athletic Complex. With State Championships comes TV coverage, radio coverage, multiple media outlets, and many fans in attendance. The AAA believes the Benton Athletic Complex is the best host site for our student athletes, coaches, media and fans.”
“Hey, we’ll play in a parking lot if that’s what it means, because a state championship is one of the highest honors in the state, and for us to accomplish that, it doesn’t matter where we got it, as long as we got it,” Coach Jones said.
But, for Saul, he can’t help but feel like the girls are getting the short end of the bat.
“Hopefully the girls can come out and play with the same spirit that they would have at Bogle.”
The regionals will not impact the High School Baseball State Championship games also happening this weekend in Fayetteville, but at Baum Stadium.
We’re told a contingency in the contract signed by the AAA states the stadium will be made available except in the instance of an NCAA regional game. This is the first year since the Arkansas Softball program started in 1997 that they’ve hosted regionals.