SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Augustana softball team opened its brand new softball facility at the start of this season, and it quickly became a popular destination. As fields across the region were unplayable due to weather, the Vikings were there to host.

The redesigned Bowden Field was the hottest place in Sioux Falls at the beginning of softball season. Not only did the Vikings christen the field with a sweep of Minnesota State on April 2, but less than a week later, the field welcomed USD and SDSU to play their first games in South Dakota this season.

“It’s one of the absolute best in the entire region,” Augustana head coach Gretta Melsted said. “It’s gorgeous. It’s well-designed. Obviously we have a turf field, makes it so that we can get out here sooner.”

“There’s not a nicer softball field around,” Augustana Associate Athletics Director for Operations Luke Groth said. “And we take a lot pride in that. And we for sure love to host as much as we can here.”

On top of welcoming the other colleges to town, Augustana was the host to the first sanctioned high school softball game in the city of Sioux Falls as Lincoln and Jefferson squared off earlier this month.

“It is a premier facility,” Melsted said. “And our goal is to be able to help people be able to get their games in. If we can help high schools, if we can help other colleges, if we can help other people be able to play the game, we want to be able to do that.”

Hosting those other college and high school games meant more to Augustana than simply providing a field for those teams to play on.

“We’re more than happy to help the communuity, be good community partners and be able to have another place in Sioux Falls that high school softball can be good partners with Augustana,” Groth said.

The field was cleared from one of the snowiest winters in South Dakota history thanks to ground thawers, antifreeze, and shoveling off the remaining slush.

“It’s just such a wonderful facility,” Melsted said. “And every single day our kids feel lucky that they have a chance to be able to play on this field.”

The Vikings went 700 days in between games at Bowden Field. For the program that had produced All-Americans and won a national championship, the renovatred field is just the newest chapter.

“This place is a testament to all of the Augie softball players that have come before and to see it finally come together and finally play a game out here after all the hard work was truly amazing,” Groth said.

The Vikings have a trio of doubleheaders at home in the upcoming week. They are scheduled to host Minnesota Crookston on Sunday.