The league had to borrow more than $100,000 to pay for some of the upgrades, but has paid it all back thanks in part to statewide tournaments it has hosted. The city chipped in to build the road and parking lot. Overall, the changes cost about $300,000. Vito Messina, 13, a third-baseman, said before the complex was fixed up, the fields were so choppy, Hall-of-Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson couldn’t stop its unpredictable grounders. “I like it a lot,” he said of the new complex. “When players come here from other areas, they go, ‘Wow, check out these fields.”‘ Meanwhile, the softball upgrades are coming in part thanks to the Amanda McPherson Foundation, a local group named for an 8-year-old Wood Ranch girl who loved softball and died of heart failure two years ago. The foundation will donate $200,000 to the project, which also received $50,000 each from Farmers Insurance and Unocal Corp., said Costello, the foundation’s vice president. Grading on the new park in the Big Sky neighborhood began this week, and the fields could open by summer. “It’s gorgeous up there with the views,” he said. “This is going to be one of the nicest spots in Southern California to play girls softball.” Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SIMI VALLEY – More than 800 youth baseball and softball players in town are about to get a major league upgrade to their outdated fields. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations are making the once-dusty Simi Valley Youth Baseball complex an attraction for teams across Southern California, organizers said. In the scenic hills across town, crews are doing grading work on a sports park that will include four softball diamonds. “Simi Youth Baseball is now one of the finest facilities in Southern California, bar none,” said Tom Costello, who has two boys in the youth baseball program and a daughter in the Simi Valley Girls Softball Organization. There are between 400 and 500 girls ages 6-14 in the Simi Valley Softball Organization and another 450 boys ages 4-14 who play youth baseball. The boys group is planning to expand, with teams for 15- and 16-year-olds. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Colleen Janssen, spokeswoman for the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District whose son used to play Little League, said the property there “was in dire need of improvement.” Now, it’s a gem hidden behind a flood control dam below Wood Ranch, she said. Ed Toczynski has been active in Simi Valley Youth Baseball since 1987 and agreed there were problems at the old complex. “When we started playing there, people used to call it the dust bowl,” he said. “My kids were rolling around in the dirt.” Now, the area that houses a five-field complex – with synthetic turf infields and grass outfields – a new paved road and a parking lot is “paradise,” he said. “I love everything about our complex,” Toczynski said.