Highland Park ISD breaks ground on new baseball/ softball complexes

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Highland Park ISD broke ground on a new baseball/ softball complex that was part of a $130 million dollar bond. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
Highland Park ISD took progressive steps toward a vision of enhancing their athletic programs Friday morning.

As part of $130 million dollar bond passed last May, Highland Park used $6 million of that to break ground on a brand-new baseball and softball complex that will be ready for both programs to debut in the spring of 2025.

“Getting these new athletic programs was big for us,” Highland Park superintendent Jimmy Hannon said. “Historically, Highland Park students interested in playing baseball or softball would transfer and go play somewhere else. Over the course of time, we had influence from a student. He asked us to consider baseball and softball here. That grew bigger and here we are.”

That student is Isaac Alaca who will be a part of the Hornets inaugural baseball team next year. Alcala, a junior, started his campaign for athletic expansion as a freshman two years ago but never thought at the time this would become a reality.

“My friends and I were talking one day,” Alcala said. “We decided we really wanted to see if we could get baseball. I went and got signatures; I then took it to school board with a slide show. It just took off from there. I’m surprised that this happened and I’m proud of my school for listening to me. I was just a freshman then so I didn’t know if this was something that would come true. Luckily, the school board loved the idea and I’m excited I’ll get to play baseball for Highland Park my senior year.”

Athletic director and head football coach Ty Stout, who just completed his second year at his alma mater, has made a major investment into turning the athletic department around. Stout says this shows the full commitment from everyone involved to make Highland Park the place to be.

“I think this proves how much the school board and Highland Park community cares about the students,” Stout said. “It’s given our student-athletes more opportunities to compete and have fun. It’s going to showcase the facilities we’re adding and who we are out here. To me, Highland Park is a diamond people don’t know about yet. I think this is going to be huge for us.”

Hannon is excited when talking about the new complexes which will be done before the Hornets get going next spring. What really gets Hannon talking is both the baseball and softball fields will be fully turfed with lights to accommodate.

“With the turf and the lights, I think we’re setting a new standard for Amarillo,” Hannon said. ” It will be something that is above and beyond what any other schools in the Amarillo-area have as far as baseball/ softball facilities have. We’re excited to offer that to are students.”

Highland Park named Ben Havel as the inaugural head baseball coach in April. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]

Ben Havel named head baseball coach 

Ben Havel was named the first ever head baseball coach in Highland Park history in April.

Havel, an Illinois native, started his coaching career at Clarendon College and has spent the last six years as an assistant for both Palo Duro for head coach Tyler Wormsbaker and the last three at Canyon under legendary coach John Doan.

Havel has taken that experience under great coach and is ready to translate it to his own program.

“Learning under coach Wormsmaker and coach Doan got ready for this position,” Havel said.  “You look at where we’re standing now and it’s just a field but in eight months it will be two new stadiums with turf fields. It’s just a great opportunity for Highland Park to grow and the community to back two new sports. Not a lot of people get to start their own program so I’m excited to get it going.”

Stout echoed Havel’s comment.

“I liked Ben from the minute I interviewed him,” Stout said. “He’s young, energetic and this is a challenge he’s ready to take on. He’s been around some big programs, and he will be huge for us. He has a passion for young people and is a great educator.”

Highland Park named Eliza Martinez as the inaugural head softball coach in April. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]

Eliza Martinez named head softball coach 

Eliza Martinez will be in charge of leading the softball program after being named the head coach in April.

Martinez, a Slaton graduate, grew up in softball and recently was the head track and powerlifting coach at Plains High School. Martinez is now ready to be the leader and guide the Lady Hornets coaching the sport she loves.

“I’m ecstatic to be here,” Martinez said. “It’s amazing because you get to create the culture that you want from the ground up. This is something pretty unprecedented for a small school to pass and push a bond to build great facilities. This is exciting and I’m happy to be a part of this.”

Stout thinks Martinez brings a great vibe that Highland Park needed.

“Coach Martinez is very knowledgeable when it comes to softball,” Stout said. “In the interview she is someone that came off committed and brought great energy. She is very detail oriented and someone that will fit perfect for our athletic program and in the classroom.”

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