Mary Ellen McKee Softball Stadium
The Fighting Leathernecks host all home games at Mary Ellen McKee Softball Stadium. Completed in 1998, the Leathernecks defeated Saint Louis University, 8-0, in the stadium’s inaugural game on March 23, 1998. They have compiled a 151-79 overall record in the stadium (following 2011 season), including a 20-1 mark in 2000. The Leathernecks have hosted a total of six conference tournaments at McKee Stadium, hosting most recently the 2009 and 2011 Summit League tournaments.
During the summer and fall of 2010, the stadium received an upgraded infield along with an improved warning track. The new infield was
laser-graded and given a new, clay-based surface from Mar-Co. The
project also included a new dirt warning track, which is expected to
drain better than the old rock-based track. The project also included
new clay-based areas around the pitching circle, batter's box and
catcher's box to improve durability throughout games.
In the fall of 2008, McKee Stadium was renovated to enhance the fan-friendly facility. One of the major renovations was removing the old chain link backstop and replacing it with new, sturdier netting that is supported by four new steel poles. The new netting will protect the fans and the press box from foul balls and pop-ups. Another renovation was the addition of a concrete back-stop behind home plate. Purple padding was put on the concrete backstop to prevent injuries during play and to enhance the look of the softball field. A water-drainage system was also added under a portion of the softball field to improve water runoff during rainy weather conditions. Since grass had to be removed to add the drainage, new grass was placed behind home plate and along the baselines.
Located directly behind Brophy Hall, the fenced-in playing field features custom dugouts, a batting cage, and enclosed bullpens. The outfield fences measure 200 feet down the right and left field lines, and 220 feet to straight-away center. Stadium seating and aluminum bleachers accommodate 500 spectators behind home plate and down each baseline, including seating and ramps for wheelchairs. A new press box behind the seating houses local media and athletic department personnel during all games.
The electronic scoreboard was donated in 1995 by Marion Blackinton, a long-time Western Illinois administrator and softball supporter. Blackinton was the first Western athletic director and is a former Western Illinois head volleyball coach.
Dr. McKee was a dedicated physical education professor at Western Illinois and author for 28 years. The effects of her donations are far-reaching for Western's student-athletes. Her support in the form of an endowed scholarship to the university and a major donation to upgrade the softball facility to its current status will continue to enhance the lives of present and future athletes.
Leatherneck softball also recognizes Joseph Keller of Owensboro, Ky., to the realization of Western’s “Field of Dreams.” Because of his long-time generosity and love of the sport, he provided a major contribution to the stadium project.