In the world of college sports, facilities are everything. They are crucial when it comes to practice, preparation and recruiting, and now, the facilities for the Seton Hall baseball and softball teams have received an upgrade.
Thanks to some fundraising efforts and an idea by head softball coach Paige Smith, both the baseball and softball teams now have new batting cages.
“They’re beautiful,” Smith said of the cages. “I think the space is more efficient now and it’s funny because with the stuff that we’ve added, there’s less square footage and it’s smaller, but it feels bigger and it’s more open.”
“I was very impressed with the improvements that they made,” baseball head coach Rob Sheppard said. “It’s a lot brighter and from my standpoint, it’s a lot more usable. We had some space in the old cages that was considered ‘dead space,’ but now we have the whole thing.”
The new cages provide the baseball and softball coaching staff with a chance to utilize different tools that were not accessible with the old cages.
“We can track now, we have a mirror down there now that allows us to do different drills,” Sheppard said. “Like I said, we have the whole space now instead of what’s just inside of the cage, so that gives us some flexibility.”
For Smith, the cages not only provide new opportunities for herself and her staff, but she also believes that they are much safer compared to the old cages.
“You can throw front-toss without worrying about getting a concussion now,” Smith said. “The biggest issue was they took the old piping and they elevated it and smoothed it out, so you can anticipate the bounces that you’ll get.”
New cages go a long way for the current athletes and for the future ones as well. When recruits come to visit, they will be seeing brand new cages that are more appealing to prospects.
“It’s tremendous, the feedback we have so far with guys that we have coming in and also with the current students, there’s been kind of a buzz,” Sheppard said. “From a recruiting standpoint, it gives us a facility that guys feel that they can really improve their development when we’re indoors.”
As for how the idea for the new cages came to fruition, the credit goes to Board of Regents member Richard Mandelbaum.
“I want to give a big shout out to Richard,” Smith said. “He was a member of our board and we got to talking a little bit and he said, ‘what can I do for softball and baseball?’ I said, ‘let’s do something for baseball and softball’ and that’s how this got started.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.