In the past when it would rain during softball season, practice had to be cancelled or limited by a move indoors. The same held for the baseball team when it was cold, wet or snowing. However with the addition of an indoor hitting facility, both programs will be able to continue to practice even when they can’t be outdoors.
Bradley said the facility has been a part of his plans since he arrived at River Ridge.
“It has been in the forefront of our focus since we opened the building there,” Bradley said. “We wanted to get established at the beginning, but after that one of our goals after we opened was to get this.”
The programs pushed aside new uniforms, equipment and field upgrades while putting together the capital for the project, which broke ground in June. A collection of outdoor batting cages were removed and the new indoor facility was constructed in its place.
“We have a place we can hit in the rain or cold or whatever and not miss those days,” Bradley said. “Softball and baseball in our region in AAAA and now moved up to AAAAA, everyone has them. Whenever it stormed or rained I had to send our kids home and I knew, in the back of my mind, that all those other teams we played against were all hitting and getting better that day.”
Bradley made references to baseball playoff games with Marist and Columbus, where their opponents had indoor facilities to practice while River Ridge did not. The case was the same when the softball team played Alexander last fall.
Bradley said he would ask other coaches what the secret to their batting success was and they would reply by stating the amount of time the players could log at the indoor facility on campus.
“From the beginning, getting one has been one of our biggest goals and biggest focuses and now we are there,” Bradley said.
The structure is 4,368 square feet. Lights were scheduled to be installed last week and the turf flooring that was donated by a local golf course will be installed next week. Bradley expects everything to be ready before the softball team starts practicing in August.
“There is just no way, even on nice days, that we can get all the players’ reps,” Bradley said. “We don’t have the resources on the field to get the cuts. Having a place with multiple tunnels will give us a chance to work with multiple groups of kids in each tunnel. It’s going to be very beneficial.”
On the way to the baseball team’s playoff game in Columbus this spring, the Knights made a stop at Troup High School, where they practiced at an indoor facility. Bradley said the coaching staff noticed how focused the players were and attributed it to the lack of distractions.
“We hope it keeps them focused,” Bradley said. “This is a great tool for us to have and we can’t wait to put it to use.”