MLB, Padres hold historic softball field opening

Renovation the first fastpitch-specific All-Star legacy project

MLB, Padres hold historic softball field opening

ESCONDIDO, Calif -- Major League Baseball and the Padres held the grand opening of the renovated San Pasqual Academy softball field Saturday afternoon, marking the first softball-specific project in the history of the All-Star Legacy Initiative.

The All-Star Game presented by MasterCard will take place on Tuesday at Petco Park, with coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. PT on FOX

"2016 may be characterized as the year of softball in our youth initiative," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. "We formed a formal partnership with USA Softball for the first time. We had our first ever softball breakthrough series in Houston in June, and at the All-Star Game, there will be members of the National Pro Fastpitch League visiting many of our events."

Padres owner Ron Fowler said he couldn't think of a better facility to be the beneficiary of the initiative, as San Pasqual was the first residential campus in the nation specifically for foster teens.

Prior to the renovation, the field had flooding problems and an uneven infield and outfield. The facelift included grading and leveling the infield and outfield, new outfield sod, new bases, a solar powered scoreboard, new foul poles, a new batting cage and turf dugouts.

"It's amazing. The field is beautiful," said Montana Epps, who played softball for San Pasqual and just completed her first year at UCLA. "I am so fortunate that they did this, even though I'm not going to get a huge chance to use it.

"But I think it's going to be great for the girls next year."

In a speech that she gave during the ceremony, Epps talked about the many life lessons that she learned by playing softball at San Pasqual, including learning how to deal with failure and not give up.

"It's a huge learning experience," Epps said about the game. "I remember when the field had holes in it -- we had to drain it every season. It's going to be a big weight lifted off of everyone's shoulders, and it also will ease the process of learning life skills, people skills.

"It's a great gesture from the Padres and MLB."

Commissioner Manfred said that MLB and the Padres were investing $5 million in All-Star legacy projects.

"The backbone of our youth efforts is providing places for kids to play every day," Manfred said. "...The program here at San Pasqual Academy fills a unique need in this community, and we're proud to be a part of that program...

"I hope it will provide opportunities for kids to engage with our game for many years to come."

On Tuesday, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.