Lining up in front of a pitching net, second- and third-graders wind up, take a step and throw a battered baseball as hard as they can down the middle.
Their objective isn’t to just throw for speed but to develop their mechanics and learn to throw with confidence without fearing of overthrows.
Coaches at each station then analyze the pitch and tweak the little things to improve accuracy and ensure safety.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Seymour varsity baseball coach Jeremy Richey headed the second winter pitching camp in the high school’s auxiliary gym.
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“This year, we’re doing velocity enhancement drills and mechanical drills,” Richey said. “We have an hour with the kids, so we get six to eight drills. Two-thirds of the drills are velocity enhancement, where it gets the kids comfortable throwing the ball harder. We make sure that it combines some mechanics so they can continue to develop at a young age.”
Richey was joined by members of his staff, including pitching coach Elvis Hernandez, current players and former Owls standout Zack Brown.
“Between the three of us, we put together some unique drills,” Richey said. “We don’t want this to be a boring old mechanics camp. It’s more of a drill camp than anything else.”
Brown currently pitches for the University of Kentucky and is projected to be drafted in the first round of June’s MLB draft.
Brown said he enjoys working with the kids in his hometown.
“Growing up, I always came to camps,” Brown said. “Coach Richey has made me the player I am. I feel like, while I’m home, I can always help him and the kids. I was in their shoes once. If they can get better at it, it will be fun for them the rest of their lives.”
The camp was divided into three one-hour segments, starting with second- and third-graders at 5 p.m. followed by the fourth- and fifth-graders and finishing with sixth through ninth.
“The younger group is really fun to hang out with,” Brown said. “They’re just trying to get better and take everything in. I’m probably 15 years older than these kids, and it’s fun to see them enjoy the sport that I love.”
Richey said each age group increased with difficulty, and the final company of pitchers went through some of the high school drills.
Last year, Richey moved the camp from March to December, partially because of Brown’s availability.
“We used to do one right before the season started in March,” Richey said. “With Zack and some of the things he’s done, it works well for him. After Christmas break, he won’t be coming back home for a while. It’s a good fit for us to have it in December.”
Richey said the numbers this winter significantly surpassed last year’s attendance.
“I think part of it is that they haven’t played much baseball, and it gets them into a mindset,” he said. “We’ve also had some success, which generates excitement. Having Zack here also creates some excitement in itself.
“I think that we were at 40 or 50 kids last year. It’s a tough time with traveling right now. I think we’re much bigger this year.”