Duke is less than two years from its 27th varsity sport beginning competition, and Monday morning the University took a major step toward integrating softball into the campus community.

The athletic department broke ground on its new softball facility behind Jack Katz field hockey stadium on East Campus. The new stadium is expected to be completed by August 2017, with softball beginning competition in spring 2018.

"This is a historic moment for the University and for the athletics department," Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics, said. 

The construction of the stadium is one of many steps to get Duke ready to add another sport.

Head coach Marissa Young was hired last July, and spent much of her first year filling out her staff and recruiting.

Young hired Amanda Chidester and Kate Kantor as assistant coaches and signed four recruits who will comprise the program's first recruiting class. The group will redshirt next year and play with Duke's club softball team as Young and her staff look to fill out the full roster leading up to the 2017-18 year.

Recruits were also present at Monday's ceremony. 

"It's amazing," Young said of the new stadium. "We've been working on this project for a really long time, and now to see trees coming down and stakes around it—it's a great day for Duke softball."

The $8 million facility—which will feature an entry plaza, batting cages and a team clubhouse—at the corner of Broad St. and Markham Ave. was approved by the Board of Trustees in February.