A blessing of the bats

Notre Dame to dedicate renovated softball and baseball fields on April 12.

Less than eight months after Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy first announced that it will renovate its softball and baseball fields, the school will host a special dedication on April 12 when students, athletes, alumni and school administration officials come together and celebrate the new facilities with a "Bless the Bats" ceremony.

According to school officials, the Bless the Bats ceremony will include a hospitality tent with food and refreshments; introductions of alumni, former coaches and administrators; remarks by school and athletic administrators; and a formal blessing of the new fields by Notre Dame Corporate President Fr. Leon Olszamowski, s.m.

After the field dedication, Notre Dame's softball and baseball teams are scheduled to play home games vs. Marian and Royal Oak high schools, respectively.

Jason Gendreau, who began his inaugural season as head coach of the Irish baseball program, is looking forward to the ceremony and to the field itself.

"The field is a blessing to our program, not only for this season, but for many more to come," he said recently. "It has already enhanced and increased valuable practice time!"

The work on the baseball and softball complex was made possible by a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor. The donation represented the largest designated gift to the school in its nearly 24-year history.

According to school athletic director Betty Wroubel, the gift facilitated the installation of AstroTurf brand field turf on both the infield and outfield of the softball and baseball fields, which are located on the northeast section of the Notre Dame campus in Pontiac. In addition, both backstops and the softball dugouts were completely replaced and a permanent press box was built at the baseball field.

Other projects in the renovation included completely new bullpens and batting cages for both softball and baseball, baseball dugout upgrades and an improved drainage system throughout the complex.

"This renovation now ensures that our softball and baseball complex will provide the best possible environment for our student-athlete ballplayers,” said Wroubel, who also heads the Irish softball program. “Coupled with the recent upgrades to our stadium, we believe we now have one of the finest high school athletic facilities in southeast Michigan.“

Ready for some baseball

Gendreau said his baseball squad will be ready for the regular season, which began for them March 26 with a home contest against Sterling Heights Stevenson.

"Our well-balanced schedule is booked with 35-plus games, he said. "We play a couple of the state's top programs as well as teams that are well-respected in the Oakland and Macomb areas. Each game will be a test for us, as the boys are acclimating to many new things in the program. Plus, our coaching staff is still learning about these awesome kids!"

Gendreau notes that the varsity team features 16 boys, eight juniors and eight seniors, and the JV team has 15 student-athletes, comprised primarily of freshmen and sophomores.  

"I believe that both teams will be very competitive throughout their seasons, regardless of who they play," he said.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.