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Chandler softball league pushing for safer conditions, better fields

Chandler Softball Team
Posted at 10:08 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 12:10:49-05

CHANDLER, AZ — The Chandler Girls Softball League is fed up with faulty fields and dangerous conditions at Folley Park, saying they’re putting players and their families at risk.

Disgusting conditions and poorly maintained fields -- that is what Coach Debra O’Connell says her players are dealing with. They’ve found syringes on several of the fields, trash and drug remnants in the bathroom, even had someone set a pile of leaves on fire in broad daylight. It is not just frustrating, it is downright dangerous.

“My friend had broken her leg while sliding into home," said Ella Wicoff, who has been playing for years. “Last season we had a shooting around the area where the girls had to evacuate.”

Now Wicoff is leading the charge for change.

“It’s giving us a message that we’re not worth it,” she said.

Wicoff even spoke at Monday’s city council meeting, expressing her concerns and asking for better conditions, like the city’s baseball fields. She told the council her team feels pushed aside because they are girls.

“That is not an issue,” Councilmember Mark Stewart said during the meeting. “We’ll address this and we’ll talk about it with staff and find a way to make this all better.”

“I just feel like more girls would come if they knew it was safer,” said Wicoff.

Plans to build a softball complex originated in the early 2000s but came to a halt in 2008 after the recession. Councilmembers said there are softball fields included in the city’s master plan but funding has not yet come to fruition to build them.