SlugFest raises money for Exeter Police Department

News photos by Emily Thiel SlugFest owners and Exeter Township residents Jim Ruoff, Matthew Rybnick, 13, and Bonnie and Joe Rybnick host a fundraiser for the Exeter Township Police Department.

One local business is bringing in the cheddar for the Exeter Township Police Department.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, SlugFest, a Baseball and Softball Training Center, hosted a fundraiser to raise money in support of the local police department.

The fundraiser offered hotdogs, chips and other snacks available for purchase for customers who came to SlugFest to practice their batting skills. Donations were also welcome. All proceeds were donated to the police department. SlugFest raised around $100 for the police department.

Exeter Township K9 Officers Darrin Gartner and Andy Walbert with police dog, Mako, visited SlugFest during the fundraiser to brush up on their batting skills.

Officer Walbert took his chances with the ProBatter PX2 Baseball Video Simulator batting cage, which can pitch balls at 100 miles per hour. After a couple swings, Walbert asked for the 100 mile per hour ball, which he hit. The officer is now inducted in the “100 mile per hour Club” at SlugFest, which earned him a free t-shirt and photo on the wall. Special offers are offered to those who have made their way into the club.

The ProBatter PX2 is a computer operated system that can send any type of pitch from fast balls, sinkers, sliders, curve balls -- you name it, and it can be pitched. With the state of the art cage, pitches can be thrown from 40 to 100 miles per hour. Both little league, adult players, and catchers can use the ProBatter, as the cage has two home plates and a pitcher’s mound. When in the cage, a throw is simulated by a pitcher on a screen. The pitch is perfectly timed in sync with the video; it looks like there is actually a pitcher pitching a ball right to you. Softballs and slow pitches are also available for practice.

The facility houses three batting cages in total for baseball or softball players of any age. The two regular batting cages also offer something different for those practicing -- each module cage can pitch different speed balls from 40, 50, 60, to 70 miles per hour.

Rates are set at $2.50 for one round (18 balls) for the module cages and $5.00 for one round of the ProBatter PX2. The ProBatter PX2 can also be used by time increments, which lower the cost per minute. Groups of friends can bat together and share the time in the cage.

SlugFest is located at 5444 Perkiomen Avenue in Shelbourne Square Shopping Center, Reading.

The Baseball and Softball Training Center opened in August of last year by Exeter Township residents Jim Ruoff and Joe Rybnick.

Ruoff owns a local insurance business, Berks County Insurance while Rybnick is a Project Manager at a large local construction company.

“We’ve had a good response from the community,” Ruoff said. The two wanted to fill a need in the local community, and provide somewhere for baseball and softball players to practice. “Pitchers and catchers can come in here and work, too.”

The batting cage facility offers open space, clinic, lessons and spring training. Bats and helmets are available for customers, but players are welcome to bring their own equipment.

SlugFest will soon offer a retail shop fully stocked with Rawlings and Easton brands. The shop will have shirts, sweatshirts, bats, balls, gloves.

In addition, the center hosts a dodgeball and pizza night for children. Children can come to SlugFest and play dodgeball for two hours. The center can also be rented out to host birthday parties packages complete with pizza, chips and cake.

SlugFest is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, 3 p.m .to 9 p.m. weekdays Sept. through May and noon to 9 p.m. June through August. Off hour and full facility use is available.

Call SlugFest at 610-575-0624 for any further details.

To see Officer Andy Walbert take his turn in the batting cage, download the Tout app on your smart phone and follow The Southern Berks News.

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About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at ethiel@berksmontnews.com or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.