OREM After playing its first 23 games of the season on the road, the Utah Valley State baseball team returns home this weekend to break in its brand new Parkway Crossing Stadium.
The Wolverines open a four-game series tonight at 6 p.m. with instate rival Southern Utah. The two will meet again Friday at 6 p.m. the night set aside for the stadium's formal grand opening festivities before playing a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
"As a coach this is something that you always dream of," said Wolverine head coach Steve Gardner of the new facilities. "This is 30 years for me, 15 here at UVSC. I'm thrilled."
Utah Valley State coaches and athletic administrators are equally excited for the opening of their professional-quality stadium.
"This a great day," said Utah Valley State athletic director Mike Jacobsen. "To be able to have a baseball facility of this magnitude is a great opportunity for those who love this great game. Parkway Crossing Stadium is a state of the art facility that we are all very proud of."
Jacobsen and baseball coaches will give a guided tour of the new facilities today from noon to 2 p.m. to all fans interested in seeing them.
Gardner believes the stadium is better than many Division I facilities and even better than some professional stadiums he's seen.
"We've gone to some excellent facilities so far this spring," he said. "Ours is better than some of the schools that have played Division I for a long time. It's a perfect, professional-quality stadium in a perfect location."
Not only will the new stadium benefit the community, but the facilities will also have an immediate impact on a team that played last season at BYU's Miller Park.
"For this team, for right now, I think it's a neat opportunity for the kids to have this kind of facility," Gardner said. "It's a good situation for the players. It gives them an idea of what Division I baseball is all about."
And not only will the facilities help this year's team, future Wolverine teams will profit from the new ballpark, providing a boon to Utah Valley State recruiting.
"It's going to be really neat for the kids that we recruit," Gardner said. "When kids come in and see our facility, I think it's a real plus for us. We are going to get kids we wouldn't have gotten if we didn't have these facilities."
During and after Friday's game, fans can enjoy festivities and a fireworks show to commemorate the opening of the new stadium.
Whether the stadium will improve the Wolverines' performance on the field remains to be seen, but Gardner believes the facilities round out the baseball program."Even though we have the greatest coaching staff in the country, you still have to have a facility," he joked.
SOFTBALL: The final three games of the Capital Classic in Sacramento were rained out over the weekend after the Wolverines lost the first two games of the tournament.Utah Valley State visits three instate rivals in the next week, traveling to play Utah on Saturday, Southern Utah on Monday and BYU on Wednesday.
GOLF: After more than a month off from competition, the Wolverines travel to Arroyo Grande, Calif., to compete in the 2005 Fidelity National Title Intercollegiate Tournament beginning today.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Miriam Palkki was named to the Division I All-Independent second team Monday. Palkki led the Wolverines with 12.2 points per game.
Kaydee Allred, Katie Wilson and Rebekah Fales all garnered All-Independent honorable-mention honors. Fales was also named to the newcomer team after averaging 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.