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Sluggers indoor baseball/softball training facility opens Saturday in Brewer

Carter F. McCall | BDN
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Softball player Ashley Gatt takes batting practice with the virtual pitching machine at Sluggers Baseball & Softball Training Facility in Brewer on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. Sluggers hosted an open house to show off the new training facility.
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

BREWER — Baseball and softball players of all ages who want to refine their skills even in the dead of winter will have another facility in which to do so beginning Saturday.

Sluggers, an indoor training facility for baseball and softball players located in close proximity to the Penobscot Ice Arena on Acme Road in Brewer, will officially open on Saturday with the ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m.

The Paul J. Mitchell Batting Pavilion opened in August on the University of Maine campus in Orono.

Sluggers, the brainchild of Karl Ward, was built by his company, Nickerson and O’Day, in just 14½ weeks and includes more than 11,000 square feet of which 8,500 is for baseball and softball use.

He bought the piece of land for “under $100,000” and the facility came in at “a little under $800,000.”

The facility includes hitting simulators for baseball and softball and Ward said the softball simulator is the only one north of Connecticut.

Pitching machines are set up behind screens and pitchers on a video screen go through the pitching motion and release the pitch, which shoots through a hole cut out of the screen.

There are portable mounds for all age groups, batting cages, targets for pitchers which can indicate velocity and there is also a SportsTurf field surface that emulates the dimensions of a Little League-sized infield.

The baseball and softball teams from Bangor institutions Husson University and Eastern Maine Community College will be using the facility as they prepare for their seasons.

Ward said this will enable players to develop their skills, and that he has compiled a “fantastic staff” to teach the game including the four Daves: Gonyar, Utterback, Paul and Morris — all former or current coaches along with softball director and former University of Maine softball star Terren Hall.

There will be seven vs. seven leagues established for the 9-10 and 11-12 age groups and hitting leagues for older players.

Ward said his facility will also be used by local AAU baseball and ASA softball teams which will also practice and play at Brewer’s Hedderick baseball field and Coffin softball field.

Sluggers will be open year-round and the hours will vary although 2:30 p.m.-10 p.m. will be the primary hours.

“We’re excited about it,” said Husson baseball coach Jason Harvey. “This is a great thing for the Bangor area and something we’ve needed for a while. We’ll be able to have three guys hitting at once, two in the tunnels and one on the simulator.”

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