Dragging a baseball or softball field is one of the most important maintenance tasks in sports. It is normally done after a game or practice. However, some dragging procedures can damage or negatively affect the quality and appearance of the infield. This is why it is important that you understand how it is done and the tools required. In this guide, I will take you through how to drag a baseball and softball infield.
Why is dragging necessary?
When players are practicing or during actual games, the soil of the field will become disturbed. This creates divots and cleat marks, where clods of soil are tossed up and left behind. Dragging is done to break up these clods before it rains. This process also helps to redistribute the soil.
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What happens to the field after dragging?
Dragging leaves the field uniform, which gives it an attractive appearance and contributes to the safety of the players. You should try to move as little soil as possible when dragging. Again, try to groom the surface without removing its underlying material.
What are the main dragging methods for baseball fields?
You can use either mat drags or nail drags for baseball infields. The nail drag is the most aggressive and it is normally used to loosen the surface when adding soil conditioners. Before using the nail drag method, you need to ensure that the surface is wet. This is necessary to allow maximum penetration.
The mat drag helps in smoothing the surface or raking down clumps to enhance its appearance. Mat drags are made of different materials such as steel, coconut fiber, etc. You can also purchase ready-made models from a distributor. When using any of the two methods, you can opt to create various patterns.
How do you drag a baseball field to make a pattern?
Most baseball fields are characterized by various patterns such as diamond, checkerboard, argyle, etc. Baseball field groundskeepers use different methods to create these patterns, but lawn striping is the most common method.
To create patterns using the lawn striping method, you will need a roller and lawnmower. Professional groundskeepers use traditional reel mowers to cut the grass. To create the patterns, a lawn roller is normally connected to the back of the lawn mower’s blade.
Nowadays lawn mower manufacturers have started to create riding mowers with full-width rollers. These rollers are attached to the rear part of the mower to make the work of patterning a field easier.
How often should you nail drag a baseball field?
Nail dragging is normally done to roughen up the top surface and allow soil conditioner to seep in. It is also done during renovations, after rains, and during game day.
How do you drag a dirt baseball field?
When dragging a dirt baseball field, you should follow these steps:
- Remove the bases and fill all the holes with a rubber plug.
- Using a nail drag, scarify the field to break down the hard or compacted material on top.
- After scarifying, use a broom or a drag mat to groom the field.
- Move a few feet away from the outfield grass and then lift the drag. Remember to shake it off to remove any excess field mix.
- You can now hand rake the field edges to prevent the formation of lips.
- Using a rake, smooth the piles left after dragging.
- Groom the home plate and base path and plate areas using a hand rake.
How do you build an infield drag?
A baseball infield is likely to wear, meaning that you need to take care of it often. One of the things you will need to do is to resurface the infield clay using a field drag. With this tool, you can easily rake the clay to create a smooth surface. Instead of buying an infield drag, you can construct one by following this procedure:
- Take four 3-foot long 2 x 4-inch wooden boards and place them evenly so they cover a 3-foot area. The 4-inch sides should lay flat on the ground. Place two boards horizontally on top of the lower boards in a way that their edges meet the ends of the other boards. Make sure that the board ends line up with the sides of the top boards to form a perfect square.
- Drill a hole through the two boards at each corner and in the center of where the boards overlap. Insert a heavy-duty galvanized eye bolt into each hole and tighten.
- Flip the frame over and drive size-8 nails into the two center boards at intervals of 2 inches. Do this in a zigzag pattern and make sure the nail heads are flush with the wood.
- Place a 3-foot x 3-foot sheet of ¼-inch plywood on top of the frame. Join the frame and the plywood using screws at 6-inch intervals.
- Make a place for the drag cables by drilling a hole into the corner of the sheet and through the 2 x 4s underneath. Put a washer over the hole and then insert an eyebolt. Thread the nut onto the eyebolt and tighten. Repeat this step at the corner of the other side of the frame.
Can you drag a wet field?
Dragging should be done before it rains to redistribute the soil by breaking down clods.
How long can you leave a tarp on a baseball field?
During early spring or late winter, tarps can be left on the baseball field for 48 to 96 hours. However, the air temperature should be below 60⁰ F. In the summer, tarps can remain on the field for 24 to 36 hours.
How can I improve my baseball field?
There are various methods you can use to improve your baseball field. They include:
- Proper mowing techniques – Always consider the 1/3 rule when mowing. This simply means that you should remove less than 1/3 of the grass leaf blade during a single mowing session. You should also increase your mowing rate to 2-3 times weekly during the growing season. Always mow when the turf is dry to reduce grass clumps. You also need to ensure that you have the best mowing equipment, such as a zero-turn mower.
- Use plate clay in areas that are likely to wear out quickly. The good thing about clay is that it offers a consistent and safe playing surface.
- Maintain the proper grass edge – Doing this frequently prevents the formation of lips. It also enhances the overall appearance of the field.
- Maintain proper moisture on the field by watering the infield skin before the game.
- Keep the necessary maintenance hand tools on site. Some of the most important tools you will need include:
- Leaf rakes
- Leveling rakes
- Hand tamp
- String lines
- Painters/chalk lines
- Hand drag
How do you get grass or weeds out of a baseball field?
You can use different methods to remove grass from a baseball field. In cases where the weeds are not thick, you can hoe or use hand-pulling to remove them. It will be easier to pull them if the field is wet. In cases where the weeds are very thick, you should consider using an herbicide like Roundup.
How do you level an infield?
Before you start dragging the field using a steel mat, you should level the uneven parts first. Try to level the low and high areas to create an uninterrupted path for the water. You should level the infield after every game. Use a leveling rake in smaller areas. When doing this, you should rake the material from a high spot and then deposit it into a low spot.
If you are leveling larger areas, you should attach a leveling tool to your mower or tractor. Then, you can use a nail drag to loosen the infield material. Try to make wide, sweeping turns in different directions in your target area.
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Every baseball or softball field needs proper maintenance to enhance the safety of players as well as the field’s overall appearance. One of the things you need to do is dragging, which helps to keep the field at a uniform level. If you were wondering how to drag a baseball and a softball infield, we hope that you have learned from this guide. Make sure that you have the right tools that will enable you to complete the task effectively.