Little sluggers

Junior infielder/pitcher Hunter Payne pitches in a game against OBU March 31.

Junior infielder/pitcher Hunter Payne pitches in a game against OBU March 31.

He stepped up to home plate to bat. He set his feet and concentrated. Completely focused on the ball, he took hard swing, and the ball went flying into left field. A small smile appeared on 5-year-old James Hoover Brogdon’s face as he dropped the bat and raced to first base. Safe.

This week, the baseball and softball teams held their annual summer fundamentals camps for kids like Hoover in grades K-6 for baseball and K-7 for softball. Participants worked with the HU coaching staff and players from the Bison baseball and Lady Bison softball teams.

“He has really loved it and had a great time,” said 2003 alumna Erin Brogdon, Hoover’s mom. “He’s really liked talking to the players. Yesterday, he was telling me stories that they’ve told him.”

During his game, Hoover took a step off first base to prepare to run. He watched the next batter with eager eyes and hands on his knees. At home plate, a Harding baseball player gave the batter some encouragement. After a hit to center field, Hoover took off from first and sprinted to second, and, after another hit, to third. With the bases loaded, the next batter hit the ball into right field, and Hoover excitedly ran safely to home.

“I’ve learned so many life lessons in sports,” Erin said. “It’s fun to see Hoover find things that he likes to do. We get to see his personality develop, watch him grow in his interests, and develop passions. He loves baseball.” When asked what his favorite part of the week was, Hoover simply responded with, “Batting.”

Throughout the week, campers learned fundamental skills from baseball players and made relationships with them and with other campers their age. They had opportunities to practice pitching, catching, and field work with grounders and pop-ups.

“It encourages me to see them play,” said Josh Spears, a senior relief pitcher for the Bison baseball team. “It’s a lot of fun for me to play with the younger kids and see how much they enjoy playing the game.” As everyone was leaving the field, a camper came up to Josh and asked if he would sign a baseball for him. When Josh handed the ball back, he said, “You did good today. I’m proud of you.” The camper walked away grinning from ear to ear.

The day ended with an awards ceremony where a few of the campers received medals for their performance throughout the week. Head baseball coach Patrick McGaha expressed thanks to the parents for choosing the HU baseball camp and gave some encouragement to the campers. “If you decide you want to do something, try your hardest and have a good attitude about it,” he said.

Once the ceremony concluded, Hoover’s younger brother asked his mom, “Did Hoover get a medal?” Erin responded with, “No, but he tried his best, and that’s all that matters.”

-Hannah Owens, director of news services

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