EVERETT — It appears the Everett High School baseball team’s traveling road show is nearing an end.
After spending the past one-and-a-half seasons practicing on a football field and playing every game away from home, the Seagulls should finally have a home field within the next couple of weeks.
The Seagulls hope to return by April 13 to the Everett Memorial Stadium baseball field, which currently is undergoing a switch from grass to artificial turf. The Seagulls are scheduled to play host to Mountlake Terrace that afternoon in their first true home game since the 2016 season.
“The kids are excited to get to play on it,” Everett High coach Alex Barashkoff said.
Everett Memorial Stadium has been the Seagulls’ home for years, but the baseball field was unusable last spring because of particularly wet weather. Everett didn’t play a game there all season and practiced on the field only once.
Poor drainage in the outfield had long been an issue, but it was compounded by last year’s exceptionally wet spring.
“In previous years, (for) the first couple weeks in March, the right-center field area would have standing water much of the time,” Everett School District athletic director Robert Polk said. “We played anyway, but it wasn’t necessarily the best situation for the kids.
“Last year,” he added, “it was magnified by the torrential rains we got all spring long.”
After Mother Nature washed out baseball at Everett Memorial Stadium last spring, the Everett School District teamed with the Everett AquaSox and Snohomish County on a joint venture to improve the field’s drainage system and convert the playing surface from grass to artificial turf. The AquaSox, the Seattle Mariners’ affiliate in the short-season Class A Northwest League, also play at the stadium.
“It was a major pain for Everett baseball for quite a few years,” Barashkoff said. “It needed to get done.”
The field renovations began last fall and originally were scheduled to be completed by mid-March. However, weather delayed the process by about a month.
“Because we had such a wet winter, the timeline had to keep getting pushed back,” Polk said.
So, like last season, the Seagulls have had to squeeze in practice time this spring on Everett Memorial Stadium’s adjoining articifial-turf football field, working around the track team’s schedule.
“The kids (have) had to really be flexible and deal with the fact that they don’t have a home field,” Barashkoff said. “But they’ve gotten used to it.”
Practicing on a football field presents its share of challenges.
“Obviously, the feel of it isn’t the same,” Barashkoff said. “The relays from right field are nonexistent, because it’s so shallow. It kind of affects working between the right fielder and first baseman on any cuts (and) relays to home.
“But the kids are used to it, so it is what it is,” he added. “I just told the kids (that) we’ve got to keep it as positive as we can. It shouldn’t be a factor in whether we win or lose.”
Everett High’s varsity and junior-varsity teams have played their home games this season on the Shoreline School District’s turf fields. That typically means playing night games, with the fields occupied by Shoreline teams in the afternoons.
“The Shoreline School District has been fantastic to work with,” Polk said. “Without them, it’d be pretty difficult to get any games in this year.”
Barring any more weather-related delays, the Seagulls plan to be back home and playing on Everett Memorial Stadium’s brand-new turf field by the end of next week.
“It’s going to be the best field in the area once it’s done,” Barashkoff said. “There’s no question about it.”