Pasco-Hernando State College’s West Campus in New Port Richey hosted a two-day event on January 22 and 23. The event was to recognize the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative (WREC) for the generous funding and support towards lighting the baseball field. The event also included PHSC Athletic Director Steve Winterling’s jersey retirement and the annual Alumni vs. Alumni baseball game.
In a press release on August 17th, 2021, on the PHSC website, WREC donated $480,000 to the PHSC Foundation to light up the baseball field. This donation from WREC will provide more opportunities for the college to host night games, youth sports activities, and community events. It may have taken well over twenty years, but those who attended The Green Carpet Party event on the night of January 22, witnessed the PHSC baseball field under a new environment. “Dr. Bob Bade has put a lot of effort into this facility to make it where we continue to grow,” said PHSC Athletic Director Steve Winterling.
Guest speakers included Mike Bell, who was Winterling’s first recruit back in 1992 and currently the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh. And Ira Kaufman, former Tampa Tribune sportswriter and Pro Football Hall of Fame representative for Tampa Bay. “It’s like we did not miss a beat for thirty years,” Winterling said. Even though they may not have seen each other in years, once they gripped in a handshake, all the stories returned. “When you get together, it’s a great feeling, and there’s a bond that you never really lose.”
Number 14 Retires
Steve Winterling has been a strong presence at PHSC and has taken the baseball program to its most remarkable moments for the past thirty years. In honor of all those long days, thousands of miles traveled, and hundreds of player recruitments, Winterling’s jersey, number 14, is retired. “Now I get to sit back and be an AD, enjoy ballgames and enjoy all our athletic teams,” Winterling said.
Alumni vs. Alumni Game
The Alumni vs. Alumni game is a great opportunity for former players. Whether they played as a Conquistador or a Bobcat, the love of the game brought many back to the field where they once stood.
On Sunday, PHSC hosted its annual alumni baseball game. The field created an ambiance for former players as many greeted each other with smiles, handshakes, and hugs. “It was a great experience,” said Justin Blue, a former pitcher, and 2011 graduate. “It’s very nostalgic, and it brought back a lot of memories. Being on the field playing with a group of guys, you can’t really express that in too many words.”
“When I played here, none of this was here. it was basically a wooden dugout on each side, no fence in the outfield,” said Albert Rodriguez, a former player back in 1991. “I appreciate everything he (Steve Winterling) has done for me, as a player and as a coach. What he has done here is great.”
The two-day event was a success and the future of the PHSC baseball field is growing stronger.
“It was exciting, more so for the players. We can do so many things now with the astroturf, with the lights, and it’s just not baseball. It’s going to be not just a college field but a community field. It’s a great thing that has been happening,” Winterling said.