HUNTINGTON - South Charleston will be the new home for the West Virginia high school softball state tournament.
The Secondary School Activities Commission announced Tuesday that the event will be played at Little Creek Park from 2020 through 2024.
The 2020 tournament is scheduled for May 27-28.
"We sincerely thank Steve Black and his staff at Jackson Park for their many years of support and assistance with the event," WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolen was quoted in a news release. "All of our state championship venues are put out for bid every four years, and South Charleston was the successful bidder this year. We are excited about this new partnership and look forward to working with South Charleston's director of public works Mr. Gerald Burgy and his staff as we begin planning for the 2020 tournament."
Vienna's Jackson Memorial Park had served as host for the tournament since the early 2000s, but drainage had become a problem the last two years, as the system was unable to handle heavy rain, leaving at least one grass field unplayable.
A bank of lights on Field 1 failed last year, too, causing delays.
Meghan Stevens, coach at Class AAA state champion Hurricane, said she enjoyed Vienna and the memories her teams made there, but that a change of venue appears to be the right move.
"I appreciate Vienna and the years we had there, but I do believe it was time for a change. From our first trip in 2013 to last year, we have seen a decline in field conditions, not only with the fields, but the scoreboards not working and the microphones and music not working. I feel this is unacceptable for a state tournament."
Hurricane has won five consecutive Class AAA titles and six of the last seven.
"Players work hard to go to that moment and they deserve top-notch facilities and experiences," Stevens said. "I'm excited to see what South Charleston can offer and we look forward to rising to the challenge of making it back so our fans have a much easier drive to see us play."
Burgy, along with South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens and South Charleston High School Athletic Director Bryce Casto presented the winning proposal to the WVSSAC board of directors on Aug. 28.
"South Charleston is excited to host this event," Burgy said in a release from the SSAC. "We are proud to be able to share our wonderful facility for the state tournament and promise to make it an event that the student athletes and their families will never forget."
Mullens also commented via a release.
"I want to thank the WVSSAC board of directors for selecting South Charleston as the host city for the state high school softball tournament beginning in 2020," Mullens said. "We are very excited and look forward to a long and successful relationship with the WVSSAC."