The Athletics Department added a new batting cage to the baseball field last week, and a press box is soon to follow.
The batting cage was completed on Sept. 26 and cost about $20,000. Head baseball coach Shawn Shewmake said these plans have been in the works for about a year.
“As we do some fundraisers and raise some money we do a project here or there every year, so we’ve been thinking about this one for a while,” Shewmake said.
Mitchell Barati, a senior catcher, explained that this new cage is different from the old one.
“They split the batting cage into two parts so we can either have two full batting cages or one full batting cage and two halves of one,” Barati said. “Which is nice to work on drills, and then we can go to live pitches in the full batting cage.”
Shewmake said the old batting cage had been around for 15 years, and although they’ve wanted to add a second one for a long time, there have been other improvements that were made, such as redoing the bleachers and dugouts.
He said now that the batting cage is complete, the team has been able to practice more efficiently.
“It just allows them to be able to hit more, we can have more people hitting at one time, less standing around. It opens up more opportunities for guys to get better and to work,” Shewmake said.
Currently, the baseball field does not have a press box. Shewmake said it is another addition that has taken a long time to become a reality.
“The press box was a big one that we knew was (going to) cost a pretty good penny, and it’s taken us a few years from when we thought about it to being able to get it to now,” Shewmake said.
With the addition of the new press box, which will cost $125,000, the press will no longer have to setup at the top of the bleachers and take up seating. Instead, they will have a dedicated area for all of their equipment.
“Right now where our scorekeeper and announcer sit was actually in the bleachers with the fans. We do radio and our games are on the internet, so we got cameras and things that are taking up seating and kind of were in each other’s way,” Shewmake said.
Barati said on top of benefitting the press and the fans, players’ parents, including his own, will also have something to gain from this addition.
“I know I’m from Florida and my parents really enjoy the webcast that we do during games, so they’ll be able to watch more games,” Barati said.
Shewmake said the press box should have been completed already, but weather issues have delayed it. An exact timeline for the box’s completion is unknown, but it’s not too far from being finished.
Barati explained that the team does not have much time to practice during the fall semester, so the new batting cage has give them the resources to put in more hours.
“Since we only have 16 days we can practice in the fall, the majority of the practicing is what us, the players, can do on our own,” Barati said. “More cages means more swings for us, allowing us to be prepared for the first game of the spring.”