BURGAW – Parents and members of Topsail High’s Athletic Boosters Club brought their concerns over the lack of netting around the school’s softball field to the Pender County Board of Education on Tuesday.
Susan Croom, the booster club’s president, asked that the board include in its future funding projects adding sideline nets between the school’s softball field and stadium field.
She said there is less than 50 feet between the two fields, and an average foul ball travels at approximately 50 feet per second, giving people only about a second to react.
But it was not softball bystanders that she is concerned about. She said it was those in the stadium fields watching lacrosse or soccer games whose backs are to the foul balls.
Other than those she calls the “town criers” who give a “heads up” call, fans in the stadium have no warning and some have already been injured.
“We have had one person taken away in an ambulance that got hit in the back of the head,” she said. “I have witnessed a small child get hit. It has happened over and over again.”
At one of the most recent games, Croom said she counted 15 foul balls go over toward the stadium seating, and, while some of the seating is roped off by the school’s athletic director to improve safety, it’s not enough.
Nicole Scott, a parent of two girls who play softball, echoed that concern.
“These girls can hit a ball, and they can hit it hard,” she said. “I have been hit by a foul ball. Soft little foul balls, they hurt, and these girls are hitting line drives.”
Croom said that spectators take on the risk of being hit by a foul ball, but the owner has a duty to provide reasonable care to prevent spectator injuries.
“Spectators expect inherent dangers, but they cannot assume a risk of injury if it’s not obvious and it’s not obvious if you are watching a game in the stadium,” she said.
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