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ALACHUA – The Santa Fe Raiders softball team has been awarded a grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund to provide money for the renovation of the school’s softball field and the purchase of new equipment.

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund, an organization designed to promote growth of youth baseball and softball, will be giving Santa Fe High School $16,871. The softball team has to match the amount donated with $11,000 in cash and $4,500 in-kind by today, March 1.

Every year the softball team puts money into the field, said Santa Fe’s Dean of Students Loretta Shane.  Normally, the amount is around $3,000 to $5,000.

Shane said the coaches believe that students should leave the field better than it was the year before, and each year the team works hard to improve the facility.

“It allows them to work together for a common purpose,” Shane said. “It gives them pride. They put a little sweat in it. The entire field was built on that philosophy.”

The students have already raised the $4,500 in-kind funding, but haven’t reached the total amount required for the cash match. On Monday, the softball team and Head Coach Gene Findley approached the City of Alachua in hopes of receiving a donation.

The commission provided $500 from the city’s good will account to help the students toward their goal.

According to Shane, as of Tuesday, Feb. 28, the group is approximately $1,500 short of reaching the required amount.

“We are not going to lose this grant,” she said.

To raise the money required by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, the students held a helmet drive, ran concessions at a softball tournament, sold advertisement banners for the softball field and sold advertisement for a program the team is organizing. Local businesses, such as Sonny’s, have participated by offering the school a designated time during which 15 percent of profits would go to the school.

With the money, the Santa Fe softball team plans to purchase an athletic field groomer and conditioner. They will also be installing a roof on one of the batting cages and an outfield warning track, which will alert players when they are getting to the edge of the field. Previous renovations included a roof over one of the two batting cages. Shane said the roofs allow the team to practice when the weather is bad.

The total amount for the project is estimated to be $32,371.

Students anticipate the improvements will decrease player injuries and entice more students to join the team. This year, the softball team combined JV and Varsity into one team because there wasn’t enough interest in the sport.

In the past, the renovations have included purchasing a new pitching machine, a new commercial fryer and changing the field from a slow-pitch to a fast-pitch field.

Anyone wishing to make a donation toward the project should contact Dean Shane, Head Coach Gene Findley or Athletic Director Michele Faulk at Santa Fe High School. The number for Santa Fe High School is 386-462-1125.