Local Groups Collaborate on Upgrades to Heerensperger Field at Tam O’Shanter Park


Tam O'shanter softball field with construction equipment on it

A collaboration between Lower Columbia College (LCC), the LCC Foundation, Kelso Recreation Council, Rose Foundation, Cowlitz County, City of Kelso, Kelso Girls Softball Association, Cheney Foundation, Rotary Club of Kelso, and Kelso High School resulting in substantial upgrades to the softball field at Tam O’Shanter Park is a home run for female youth, high school and college athletes.

In 2009, Kelso native Dave Heerensperger donated $150,000 to improve the softball fields at Tam O’Shanter, including upgrades to the grandstands, clubhouse, fencing, and construction of a concession stand. Improvements to the infield and outfield were not included in the 2009 project, however, and rainwater from the upgraded structures soon began pooling in the softball field. Mud created by the runoff typically lasted well beyond the rainy weather itself, leading to delayed and canceled games as well as deterioration of the infield dirt. In spite of valiant efforts by coaching staff and volunteers to keep things dry, the poor condition of the field rendered it virtually unusable in rainy conditions.


After upgrades were made to nearby Rister field (used by male athletes), discussions began in earnest in 2022 to make similar improvements to Heerensperger. A multi-agency collaboration resulted from the talks. The year-long construction project, led by Advanced Excavating Specialists (AES) of Kelso, is slated for completion by mid-October. Primary project components include putting in a new drainage system and permeable base, and installing artificial turf in fields one and two.


David Mackin, President of the Kelso Girls Softball Association, took the lead oversight role on the construction side of the project and is enthusiastic about the increased opportunities the upgraded facilities will bring. “The new field will expand opportunities for younger generations to have more playing time in all kinds of weather. This is the first softball field in the area with artificial turf, and we can take a lot of pride in that,” he said, adding, “it’s all for the girls, that’s why we’re doing it.”


The benefits of the newly upgraded field go well beyond the athletes and their families. “The newly upgraded fields will allow not only LCC to practice and play in Northwest weather conditions, it will also allow both LCC and the Kelso Girls Softball Association to host tournaments, which brings people and revenue into the community,” said Nolan Wheeler, LCC’s Vice President of Administration.


Several groups contributed financially to the overall project cost at varying levels of support, including: Lower Columbia College ($90,000); Kelso Recreation Council ($75,000); Cowlitz County ($60,000); Rose Foundation ($60,000); Lower Columbia College Foundation ($50,000); Cheney Foundation ($30,000); City of Kelso ($30,000); Kelso Girls Softball Association ($20,000); and the Rotary Club of Kelso ($1,000).


“We are grateful for the college and other community members working together to improve our home field with a new artificial turf infield. The new turf will allow us more days of practice outside, as well as more opportunities for home games. While there are already two turfed baseball fields in town, this will be the first turfed softball field in the county! This project provides LCC’s Women’s Softball team, as well as the many youth girls organizations, more opportunities for sports participation. Turf fields have become a necessity in our rainy climate, and we are delighted that LCC has stepped up to improve our facility,” added Traci Fuller, Head Softball Coach, Lower Columbia College.


Fundraising efforts to ensure that all project costs are covered, led by Lower Columbia College, is ongoing. If you’d like to make a contribution to the project, please contact the LCC Foundation at 360.442.2130 or visit lowercolumbia.edu/foundation.