Partnership provides new batting cage for Raider baseball

Twin Valley High School will soon have a new $5,000 baseball cage installed at the high school’s varsity field thanks to an ongoing partnership between the school and the Twin Valley American Legion Baseball Organization.

According to Will Urkuski, President of the Twin Valley American Legion Baseball Organization and an assistant coach for Twin Valley High School baseball, the money for the batting cage came from a combination of private donations and legion baseball fundraising. He said that there had been talk about adding a batting cage for some time because Twin Valley is the only high school in the area without its own batting cage.

“The batting cage will enable us to get a lot more swings in in much less time. With the cage we can do a lot of things differently that will really help our teams,” Urkuski said.

According to Twin Valley High School Athletic Director John Guiseppe the partnership between the baseball programs began about five years, soon after the formation of Twin Valley Legion Baseball – which is sponsored by Wawassan Post 422 in Honey Brook. Representatives from the legion approached the school and offered to take on maintenance and improvement projects at the school ball field in exchange for permission to use the field.

It was a natural partnership, as the large majority of Twin Valley American Legion ballplayers also play for Twin Valley High School (players need only live in the school district – Bishop Shanahan and Hi Point Baptist students also play legion ball).

“It is a symbiotic relationship with a lot of overlap between the programs,” Urkuski said. “We work well together and it allows us to get (head high school coach Matt Royer’s) philosophy down to the younger players.”

“Since (the partnership began) they have kept their promise and offset the wear and tear with repairs,” Guiseppe said.

Some prior improvements made by the legion include re-sodding the infield, irrigation work, installation of a sprinkler system, and field re-grading.

The batting cage will be installed next to the first base line of the varsity field. The initial process involves digging down three feet into the ground to lay a base of crushed stone to allow for proper drainage within a framework of 6x6 retainers. According to Urkuski, baseball parent and junior legion assistant coach Jerry McInaw – who has experience in construction – will lead the ‘nuts and bolts’ assembly of the cage.

The hope had been that construction would have already been underway at this point in time, but the installation is on hold until the ground thaws.

“We hope to set posts on March 9 if the weather agrees with us,” Urkuski said “and we hope to have it ready within two weeks from that date.”

Guiseppe complimented the legion on their handling of the process

“As usual, they have handled this very professionally,” he said. “They had blueprints drawn up and all of the parties involved have taken the time to make sure that this job is done the right way.”

Fundraising for the batting cage began in October of 2012, with the Twin Valley Sports Booster and some small businesses being among those who donated funds outright. Funds raised internally by the Twin Valley American Legion Baseball Organization come chiefly from the June lottery calendars which the organization sells for $10 each. The days on those calendars are marked with lottery numbers which ‘win’ based upon the PA Lottery daily number for the corresponding date.

“I would like to thank Jerry McInaw for all of his help with the project,” Urkuski said. “I also want to thanks John Guiseppe and the Twin Valley School Board for all that they have done to support baseball.”

Urkuski added that it is important for people in the community to come together in the support of athletics in a time were school board cannot financially support teams as they have in the past.

“It’s great to see people work together for the love of the game and for the kids. When there are partnerships made to support these kids it works out well. The legion is not the only organization helping Twin Valley – if you look at what groups like the Raider Mat Club and Twin Valley Ice Hockey have done, it is wonderful. There is a realization that we have to step up for these kids and I think that the groups in Twin Valley are doing a good job, and John Guiseppe has been fantastic in helping us.”

Those who wish to support legion baseball going forward can purchase June 2013 lottery calendars starting in April. Interested parties can contact Urkuski at WURKUSKI@Yahoo.com for information. The 2013 lottery calendars will be available until May 31.

Twin Valley High School is also seeking sponsors interested in having their business or organization’s logo or name displayed on the athletic department’s scoring table.

“The logos would go onto a lighted panel which will be visible to the audience at events like basketball games and pep rallies,” said Guiseppe. “The scoring table has room for two panels, approximately two feet tall by four feet wide each, which are available for sponsorship.”

Sponsors can arrange options such as which type of events they would like their sponsorship to appear during, and whether they would like to have their sponsorship appear for part of an event or the entire event.

For more information on scorer’s table sponsorships contact Athletic Director John Guiseppe at 610-286-8600.

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