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Louisiana Tech Athletics takes big hit

T. Scott Boatright
Sunday, April 28, 2019
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Leader staff photos

Pictured above is an aerial view of the damage caused to the Lady Techsters Softball Complex by Thursday morning’s tornado.

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The photo above shows the missing piece of concrete above fan seats at the J.C. Love Baseball Stadium that was lifted up and thrown on to Alabama Avenue during the tornado.

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Pictured is an aerial view of the damage to Louisiana Tech’s J.C. Love Baseball Stadium.

When it comes to colleges, spring is a time for softball,footballand tennis.

Spring is also a time of increased likelihood of tornadoes like the one that ripped across the Louisiana Tech campus early Thursday morning.

While damages to academic buildings at Tech were minimal, the university’s athletics department took a big hit.

Combined damages to the J.C. Love baseball field, the Lady Techsters Softball Complex and the Tech tennis courts are estimated to be in the millions of dollars.

At J.C. Love Field, the scoreboard was destroyed and a huge section of a concrete overhang above some of the seats was torn away from the stadium and thrown onto Alabama Avenue.

Nearly all of the outfield wall at the baseball field is gone, and the batting cage was damaged.

The outfield fence at the Lady Techsters Softball Complex was destroyed, and the scoreboard was basically snapped in two. The bullpen and batting cages behind the home team dugout were also destroyed. Trees were tossed onto the top of the press box, and light poles were felled and left lying on the artificial turf.

Trees and debris were left strewn across the tennis courts surrounded by now-twisted and mangled fences.

But that damage wasn’t the first thing on the mind of Louisiana Tech President Les Guice as he met with the media Thursday morning.

“The good thing is all of our students, faculty and staff are safe,” Guice said. “They weren’t seriously injured, there were some minor abrasions and things due to flying glass. All of them are safe and genuinely in good spirits.”

Those good spirits didn’t mean Tech students weren’t left stunned by the storms.

“This is a big shock to the campus to have this kind of thing happen to us this time of year,” Guice said. “But our students are responding and volunteering to get out and clean up and do the kinds of things they need to do to get our campus back to the beautiful campus it was yesterday.”

Guice joined in that shock.

“We work every day to try to make this a special place, then you see it get torn apart, it’s pretty traumatic.”

Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland said he was just proud to see the way the school’s student athletes responded to the tornado.

“You know, your first instinct is to help,” Mc-Clelland said. “You’ve got some good morals about you and some good stuff. You’ve got good DNA. I’m just proud that some of those were our student athletes and students here who have that right stuff. The students want to help, they want to respond.

“We’ve got to organize it and do it the right way to make sure everybody safe. There’s no doubt, Louisiana Tech and the Ruston community — this is going to forge the family even more.”