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Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium
The history of Draper Diamond has been a dramatic one as it reaches 10 years of service in 2015.
The most recent chapter was officially revealed April 12, 2014 as Lipscomb’s softball facility was rededicated as Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium to honor Michael and Derek Smith, owners of Rio Grande Fence Company for their support of the program.
Michael, the company president; and Derek, vice president of operations; provided funding for an ornamental fence and columns surrounding the field. They also made possible the installation of a padded outfield wall.
The Smiths provided additional funding for the construction of stadium seating, restrooms in each dugout, padding for the infield backstop wall and flags to provide branding throughout the stadium.
A new scoreboard in right center field was also made possible by the generosity of the Smiths.
The improvements elevated Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium into one of the finest collegiate softball facilities in the country.
“Lipscomb’s student-athletes deserve our attention and contributions,” Derek Smith said. “We hope that our contribution to, and involvement with, Lipscomb athletics will inspire other alumni and friends at Lipscomb to get involved with the program.”
Lassie Draper, widow of Bob Draper, made the donation for the first phase of the new facility. Both Drapers graduated from Lipscomb. Draper Jewelry Company is located on Granny White Pike across from the Lipscomb campus.
The dedication for the field was held in March 2006. It was also the first year for Kristin Ryman to serve as head coach.
The original softball field was moved to allow for construction of the Ezell Center. The team spent a season playing at Crockett Park in Brentwood while the new field was being constructed.
Craig Hartline, who married Mary Pat Draper after the two met while students at Lipscomb, summed up the significance of the softball facility on dedication day.
“I like the name Draper Diamond,” Hartline said. “It is lyrical. The Drapers have sold hundreds, and even thousands, of engagement rings to student at Lipscomb through the years.
“I miss Bob Draper. I miss his wisdom. I miss his knowledge. What a fine way to honor this family.”
The Lady Bisons opened the field with a pair of shutout wins, beating Alabama A&M 5-0 in game on and 10-0 in the nightcap.
Leigh Little connected for the first hit on the new field, a line drive double to left in the first inning of the first game. Julia Davidson slammed the first home run, a two-run blast over the center field fence that also scored Little in the first inning.
Sara Meek pitched a two-hit complete game for the win in game one.
On April 12 the Lady Bisons also swept a doubleheader following the dedication to the Smiths beating Mercer 9-1 in five innings and 5-4 in extra innings.
In 2013 and 2014 Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium was the site of the Atlantic Sun Conference Softball Tournament. The facility also served as the home field for the Tennessee Diamonds of the National Fastpitch Association in 2010.