Baseball is a sport you can play all year in Arizona, according to Albert Bandin, owner of Hit-N-Pitch Batting Cages. To his knowledge, Bandin’s batting cage is the only one in Pinal County. And, even better, it’s inside an air-conditioned warehouse. No one has to use sunblock or wait until the sun goes down to enjoy it.
“If you’ve got kids that are trapped inside, climbing the walls all day, they can come here, get their energy out and have some fun doing it,” Bandin said. “If you have ball players, they can come in and work on their skills. If you’re an old guy like me, you can come in with your buddies and relive those glory days and have a good laugh about it. It’s always fun to see ‘who still has it.’”
Three cages offer rentals ranging from 15 minutes to an hour. The pitch speed and style of each cage is can be changed for the person using it. Whether it’s slow or fast-pitch softball, Little League hardball or Major League heat, players can step into the box and take as many swings as they can.
Bandin opened a few weeks ago to coincide with summer break. The cage is on the outskirts of town at 12501 N. Murphy Road. Bandin said it’s a little out of the way, but that helps keeps the cost of operations down so he can provide low rates.
“We’ve already got coaches coming from Casa Grande and the locals as well,” Bandin said. “They know if they want to challenge their players and give them proper technique, this is the best place to do it.
“The kids are not always playing against best pitchers that will be at the higher levels, and sometimes you get a kid in here that thinks he’s good based on who he’s played against, but they come in here, we adjust the speeds, and they’ll realize how much work they have to put in.”
Bandin points out it’s a family atmosphere because they can adjust the speeds to every age group. They even have a T-ball stand to get the kids started with the right technique.
“Every coach knows foundation is everything,” Bandin said. “If someone comes in and I’m around, you can bet I’m going to help them with that and give whatever tips I can.”
Bandin coaches in a youth baseball league and preaches fundamentals. He knows most baseball drills, including batting practice, aren’t much fun if you’re not the one swinging away at the plate.
“When it’s over a hundred degrees and you’re the one out there in right field shagging fly balls, or just standing, sweating, swatting at the gnats and waiting, that’s the worst,” Bandin said. “Anyone who plays ball in the summer knows that. Don’t have to worry about any of that here. There’s no one chasing down foul balls in the parking lot either.”
Hit-N-Pitch also offers birthday or team party packages. Twelve kids can have an hour cage rental, four large pizzas and juice for $130. Bats and helmets are provided, but players are able to bring their own equipment as well. Those interested in a party are asked to give a week’s notice for reservations.
“If a team comes in, we want to make sure we keep space open. People are coming in at different times, and we want to be able to accommodate everyone,” Bandin said.
“You got a lot of young players dedicated to the sport, and, even though you can play all year round, some players take the summer off because of the heat,” Bandin said. “Anyone serious isn’t taking time off; they’re working at getting better.
“However, what I’m enjoying the most is seeing families come in and sharing the experience together. One of my best memories growing up…was with my dad, playing catch, finding an empty field where he could pitch to me and him always being there at my games. Nowadays, it’s hard to find somewhere to go, but, with this, I’m hoping others can have those memories, too.”
At a glance:
Name: Hit-N-Pitch Batting Cages
Location: 12501 N. Murphy Road (off Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in the Santa Cruz Commerce Center)
Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Website: http://www.hitnpitch.com/ (on Facebook.com under hit-n-pitch)