Back to Basics: Infield Maintenance 101

DIGGING IN

“Infield” is a phrase unique to the sport of baseball and softball. In baseball, the infield denotes the diamond, typically a combination of turfgrass and “dirt” (another word for the infield combination or “skinned area”). The infield is all dirt. But a baseball infield might be all dirt and, a softball infield could be a combo of turfgrass and dirt, while not as common. And that’s only the start of both of these sports’ complexity, from a turf control standpoint.

PRECISE MEASUREMENTS

The infield design is determined by the governing body for the game in the specific amount of drama.

In baseball, a raised mound is stipulated. Softball dimensions vary by level of play but change for male and female players within those amounts.

Softball infield regulations stipulate a flat pitching circle as opposed to an elevated pitching mound, together with the pitcher’s plate and home plate constantly level with one another.

INFIELD DIRT

The infield dirt is easily the most complicated and maintenance intensive part of athletic field surfaces. It is made of various combinations and percentages of sand, silt and clay dependent on the regional weather conditions; construction of the area; an amount of discipline use; preferences of the sports field director, players, coaches and facility owners; and always — the budget.

Many believe 60 to 70 percent sand, 30 percent clay and 10 percent silt the starting point for the majority of the infield combination, recognizing that particle size within each of those components also impacts performance. Water holds the components of the infield mix. The sand component empowers moisture penetration into the infield combination and percolation through it, using a greater percentage of sand allowing during moist conditions. The clay and the components maintain moisture, affecting during dry conditions.

A harder combination is necessary for the areas that are most heavily employed: the starting and “landing” section of this pitcher’s mound and circle and the batting region of the batter’s box. Pitchers and batters tend to mistreat these areas, digging and kicking the dirt to shape the surface to their own liking, which generates depressions and openings. Typically, the infield mixture for all these areas will be approximately 40 to 50 percent petroleum, 10 to 20 percent silt, and 40 percent sand. The two kinds of materials are available from commercial suppliers packaged in premoistened bricks or bags, for the materials, in bags.

Some area managers add another element to infield mixes with lower proportions of silt and clay, a conditioning modification like calcined or vitrified clay. Stabilize the infield and they work this to help bind the clay. These amendments, or alternative goods such as brick dust, frequently are employed as 0.125 to 0.25 inches squared to help manage moisture levels within the skinned area. They can help keep the dirt from drying out and prevent players from picking out clay on their spikes.

MANAGING MOISTURE

An in-ground irrigation system using a zone that only waters the infield clay is 1 way to deliver volumes of water quickly.

When water patterns are redirected in windy conditions, hand watering will be required to attain the places missed. Quick-connect outlets behind the mound and home plate, or in the infield corners behind third and first base in the grass, provide access to hook up a water hose.

Choose the hoses and hand-nozzle sizes best fit to a variety of fields and crew size, knowing you will need to apply water both for your initial soaking and a repeated light misting to keep the desired moisture level. Check out MarCo Clay today for more information about taking care of your baseball field.

GENERAL DAILY MAINTENANCE

Walk the infield to find and remove any hazards such as rocks or sharp debris.
Repair and replace divots and damaged turf.

Mow properly, keep mower blades sharp and rotate mowing routines.

MOUND, PITCHING CIRCLE AND BATTER’S BOX MAINTENANCE

Player safety requires repair of depressions and holes users have created. Load a wheelbarrow or utility vehicle with tools and gear and handle each area separately. Begin by using a broom to sweep off any conditioner or loose dirt on the surface. Use a watering can to gently moisten. Scuff up the damaged region with a hoe, a shovel or rake.

The repair method is just like that used in construction, working in roughly 1-inch layers with “chunks” of your tougher material only moist enough to adhere to the substance below them. Use a hand tamp (a flat piece of metal attached to a handle) to streamlined each degree. Wrap the metal bit with a strip or towel of landscape cloth to keep it from sticking to the clay.
Measure the elevation with every addition of clay bricks for baseball fields using a transit and laser, or a series line.

Mound regulations baseball programs stipulate a slope at the front of the mound starting 6 inches in the front of the pitching rubber, with a fall of 1 inch per every foot. You are able to buy a slope board (or create your own with 10-foot 2 by- four) to help quantify and preserve this precise degree of incline.

One time a repair is finished, gently rake those regions and rake away all debris from the rest of the pitching and batting locations. Top with a layer of soil conditioner, even if you choose to utilize it.

Use a hose to water the whole mound, pitching ring or batter’s box. Permit that area to dry to the stage you’ve predetermined and then cover that area with a tarp made especially for it (or one you have cut out of a formerly used bigger tarp) to keep the proper moisture level.