By JU Athletics
Jacksonville University broke ground Monday, March 25 on the Debbie & Fred Pruitt Softball Complex, a 2,300-square-foot multipurpose facility that will become the crown jewel of the softball facilities in the heart of the Valley between Oak Hall and Swisher Gymnasium.
Located steps away from the softball field, the complex will include a team lounge and study area, a locker room for 22 players and coaches, coaching staff offices, and a covered hitting facility.
“We could not be more excited about today’s historic event and what this new project will mean to the University and our softball program,” JU Director of Athletics Brad Edwards said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We have many friends here at JU that mean so much to the growth of the University, not only through their financial support, but through their time and attendance at many of our events. It is through the vision and backing of Fred and Debbie Pruitt along with Mark and Meredith Frisch that this project was made possible.”
The project is a component of JU’s comprehensive $85 million ASPIRE Campaign, the largest fundraising and development venture ever taken on by the University.
“Debbie and I wanted to take on a project under the ASPIRE Campaign and we both love athletics,” said Fred Pruitt, a two-time JU alumnus. “We are very appreciative of everything this University has done to enhance our life so we wanted to pay back and do something special. We are very proud of what the team has accomplished here and for what lies ahead in the future.”
The hitting facility will provide team members with a covered pavilion where they can hone their hitting and pitching skills year-round. It will have modern batting cages, new pitching nets and a turf-covered padded concrete floor.
The modernized building will do more than serve as the future home for JU softball, it will have a lasting effect and serve as a cornerstone of growth on the JU campus.
“When I first started here, our players used to have to dress at home for their games and now they will have their very own locker area just a few feet away from the dugout, said softball head coach Ali Higgs. “It’s just an amazing testament as to the growth of our program and the University, and it would not have been possible without the support of the Pruitts and the Frisches.
“They came to me with this vision to enhance our facility and now it is becoming a reality. I cannot say thank you enough to everyone from our University and Athletic Administration to all our parents and fans that have stood behind us.”
Higgs noted that the student-athletes on the softball roster bought into the JU experience without a promise of a new facility.
“Now, with this new building and hitting facility, we can reward them for their commitment,” she said. “It will not only improve their JU experience, but enhance that of everyone new that comes through our program.”
Construction is slated to take 90 days. Meanwhile, anticipation of what lies ahead for JU softball is only expected to increase with each day.
“It’s an honor to be standing here. Words cannot even describe what is going to happen here in a couple of years,” said Karson Tuck, a junior infielder from Walkersville, Md. “This means so much to us and I cannot wait to see what happens next.”