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How the Arkansas grounds crew preps Bogle Park to host SEC Tournament

The SEC Tournament comes to Fayetteville for the first time since 2010, and gets underway this week at the home of Razorback softball.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Bogle Park head groundskeeper Austin Freeman says he was never meant for a desk job.

“I never really cared for a suit and tie,” Freeman said. “At least out here I can wear shorts and a t-shirt. It’s just like mowing a backyard.”

A pretty big backyard that Freeman is getting ready for a busy week of softball, with the SEC Softball Tournament coming to Fayetteville for the first time since 2010.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into this,” Freeman said. “The watering, the fertilization, the mowing. Grass doesn’t stop growing.”

Preparing Bogle Park to host the 13 teams from the Southeastern Conference involves more than just work with the grass though.

The big SEC logo in center field doesn’t get there by itself either.

“Basically what we did was we painted all the logos, painted the foul lines (and) the coaches' boxes,” Freeman said. “Just stuff that we needed to get done to allow to dry before someone walks across it.”

The logos start with stencils sent by the SEC. Five gallons of paint later, all the logos are colored in, helping get Bogle Park tournament ready.

“It’s like an artist, you start from scratch with clay or drawing,” Freeman said. “Just seeing the finished product and everybody just amazed by how great of a job we do.”

Such a great job, Bogle Park was named the field of the year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association in 2022.

Above the accolades though, Freeman enjoys the smaller things of getting this park set to play ball.

“The fresh cut grass, the smell of the fresh paint—can’t beat that,” Freeman said.

The Razorbacks are hosting this tournament as the defending champions after winning it last year in Gainesville, Florida for the first time in program history. 

Arkansas won’t be in action until Thursday though, as they have a bye until the quarterfinal round. They'll play the winner of the matchup between Alabama and Mississippi State/Missouri.

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