PRAIRIE CITY – The Prairie City Panthers’ “Field of Dreams,” although a work in progress, is coming true.

The school is fielding its first baseball team since 2007 this year.

Mark Woodbury, baseball head coach, envisioned a baseball team for the school.

He said some players on the boys varsity basketball team he coached were interested in playing baseball. He told them if they got the numbers together and showed their commitment, he would work to do the rest.

“It was a collective effort – the kids, Superintendent Ryan Gerry and the school board,” he said. “It took all three to make it happen.”

There are 12 players on the team, a requirement suggested by the school board to offer flexibility in case a player gets injured or is otherwise unable to play.

Three girls are on the roster, including two of Woodbury’s daughters.

The school had a baseball team seven years ago, but it was discontinued after a couple of the players switched to track and field, Woodbury said.

He noted that some of the athletes haven’t played team baseball for a few years. Looking on the bright side, he said that it means the athletes “haven’t had a chance to develop bad habits.”

“We’re working on good fundamentals,” he said.

The school district ordered new bats and pitching equipment, and the players bought their own gear, including gloves and cleats.

“It’s a brand new program, basically,” Woodbury said.

Woodbury has coaching assistance from Lance Zweygardt and Brian Askew. Billy Colson has also offered to help.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the community,” Woodbury added. “It’s been really nice.”

Prairie City Superintendent Ryan Gerry, also the athletic director for the school, said he’s pleased to see the program return.

“We are definitely very excited about the baseball team coming back,” he said. “Coach Woodbury has been trying for a number of years to form a team. We hope that we’ll continue to have the numbers out.”

The Panthers will make their first appearance Thursday, March 27, against Scio at the Les Schwab Icebreaker Tournament on Malone Field at John Day’s Seventh Street Complex.

They also are scheduled to play Union at 3 p.m Friday, March 28, and Grant Union junior varsity at 1 p.m. Saturday. Those games will be on McConnell Field at Seventh Street.

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