By Lori Brown
MONTICELLO March 27, 2007 On Monday, March 19, the Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department sponsored a baseball clinic for kids ages 8 to 16 at the Robert J. Kaiser Middle School.
Monticello Parks and Recreation Department Director Betsy Conaty invited members of the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) Generals baseball team to attend the clinic and teach the children some of the fundamentals of the game.
SCCC Coach Mike Marra joined his players in teaching the children. All of the Generals who were at the clinic graduated from Sullivan County high schools. They included Mike Cook (who played baseball while attending Liberty Central School), Christopher Gates, (Fallsburg Central School), Casey Pazzalia (Liberty) Mike Prunka (Eldred Central School) and Corey VanKeuren (Liberty).
The five players are all freshmen at SCCC.
Conaty said that approximately 20 kids signed up for the baseball clinic. However, due to the evening’s inclement weather only six kids attended the event.
But those six lucky boys were able to receive one-on-one training, as there was enough Sullivan Generals to pair up with the boys. Those boys included: Andrew Benskie (11 years old), Jordan Dorn (9), Jesus Mangual (13), Ryan Mendels (9) and brothers Malcolm Pinto (11) and Ryan Pinto (9).
The boys enjoyed an educational evening of baseball which consisted of throwing, fielding, sliding, base running and hitting.
The clinic started off with a warm-up session much like the one the Generals complete before every practice. The boys did jumping jacks, arm circles, shoulder exercises, leg stretches and ran in place.
After stretching, they learned how to grip a baseball correctly. Then they learned the correct position to be in to throw the ball. Each of the boys played catch with the Generals’ player with whom they were paired up.
The next skill they learned was fielding ground balls. Then they put fielding and throwing together. They learned the correct way to catch a pop up as well.
After taking a quick break for a drink, the young baseball players learned some base running techniques. Marra said to learn how to run into first base, you must remember to lean, step and look. They also learned the correct way to tag up.
Next they learned how to slide correctly. The boys practiced the “Figure 4” slide on a blanket.
The last skill they learned was hitting. The players went to three stations to practice hitting techniques. They learned the stance they should be in while hitting and to relax while keeping their head and eyes pointed straight at the pitcher to watch the ball.
The kids also practiced hitting off a tee and running. When the ball was hit, one boy fielded it as the other boys were lined up behind him.
During the next inning, the boys hit the ball. When the ball was fielded, it was passed back from player to player left to right until it ended up at the end of the line.
In the third inning, the fielders had to pass the ball over and under until it got to the end of the line of boys.
The boys seemed to learn a lot of good skills during this “spring training” program.
“I learned how to slide tonight,” said a clearly excited Malcolm Pinto.
Marra ended the clinic by giving the youngsters some advice and an invitation.
“Stay involved with the sport and you are all invited to come out and watch the Sullivan Generals play at the college,” he said.