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Howard baseball takes pride in its new home field

Home plate at Howard High's new baseball field. The team, coaches, community and strangers pitched in to build this field for the team.

Home sweet home.

That's what the Howard baseball team now has.

A home field.

One they have taken great pride in.

The players, coaches, community and strangers pitched in to make the new field a reality.

NewsChannel 9 dropped in on Wednesday's practice and found a team that does everything together.

Everything.

They unload equipment from coach Jon Johnson's truck to start practice.

The equipment is stored in a building on campus.

Then, they spread out the turf for pitching practice.

Coach Johnson instructs them to get ready, directing them to left field.

"Go ahead and jog it out, let's stretch it out."

Stretch it out on a field they once did NOT have.

It was the old football practice field.

Filled with weeds, rocks and bumps.

Now, it has an infield, outfield, bases, fences.

Every team member got up early and worked Saturdays and Sundays.

Senior Juwan Hill feels good about the field. "I feel very confident about it and that we did a good job. We really worked hard on the field," Hill said with a smile.

Dugouts and stands are coming, all completed with donations and hard work.

And the new field means so much more. Senior Jwun Gamble put it this way, "We're more bonded because of this field, by all the time we put on Saturdays and Sundays trying to get the field ready. We became brothers."

Last year, the Hustlin' Tigers could barely field a team.

This year, seven of the 18 players are playing for the first time.

They're short on experience, but not heart.

Senior Antonio Daniels definition of this team: "Hard work and effort and just trying to get better every day, every practice."

Coach Johnson thought of four words to define his squad. "Resilient, grit, perseverance, dedicated."

He came here from Lookout Valley Middle School.

He's bilingual and saw a job posting for Howard baseball and also a Spanish teacher.

One position for both jobs. "I just felt like God was telling me this is where you need to be for awhile."

The coach dreams of scouts and scholarships coming to Howard.

But for this year, "Our goal is to get better every day. And if I'm better tomorrow than I was today, it was a good day."

The field stands as a huge first step.

Hill believes it will payoff for the season. "Working hard on our field, I know it's going to lead over to some of our games."

The Hustlin' Tigers baseball team now knows the meaning of hustle on and into the field where they now play.

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