For The Tribune

Jeremy Richey wanted Seymour-area boys to improve their baseball skills this week, and at the same time have fun doing so while attending the Seymour Owls Baseball Camp.

Nearly 107 attended the camp at the high school that ended Thursday.

Richey said the campers were divided into two age groups this season with the younger boys (kindergarten through second graders) at the softball field and the older group (grades 3 to 9) at American Legion Field.

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During the first two days the older campers went around to nine different stations for instruction.

“We had about 75 kids that we were rotating through on the varsity field,” Richey said. “Most of the stations are on the field, but we had some in the hitting facility.

“We did some situational things with infielders in here (infield) and then just a lot of fly ball technique and some do-or-die stuff where they’re coming forward, and just working on technique a little different than the first couple days, which is more stationary catching fly balls. We wanted to get them moving (Wednesday) and make them play at game speed.”

He said they worked on offense, defense and pitching.

“In our nine stations, the first two days, we had at least two pitching stations in each one,” Richey said. “We don’t have them actually throwing pitches because a lot of these kids are playing travel ball and have games in the evenings.

“It’s not about trying to fix them in their actual mechanics, it’s just doing some drills things to teach them mechanics. We do not have any kids throw live pitches in the camp because that’s really not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to work on technique stuff and not hurt their arms.”

Aden Burnside has been attending the Owls baseball camp for six or seven years.

Burnside, who is left-handed, said he either plays first base or pitches.

“I want to improve my defense, fielding ground balls at first base,” Burnside said. “I can switch hit. We were hitting in the cages.”

Burnside will be a seventh-grader at Seymour Middle School, and also plays football and basketball.

Brandon Kleber, 13, said this is his fourth year attending the baseball camp.

He played with the Seymour Middle School team this spring.

“I play shortstop and second base,” he said. “I just want to get better and have fun. I like having fun, and you can have fun with your teammates.”

Kleber said he also enjoys running cross-country and playing basketball.

The coaches had the campers do some fun things and that included playing Wiffle Ball.

“When you have the nine stations it can get monotonous, so we’ve got to break that up a little bit,” Richey said. “They love talking to each other and the competition. One of the things we added this year, we talk about our five absolutes. (Wednesday) I gave them two: ‘Be a leader’ and ‘compete,’ and this is the way they show how they compete.

“You see the level of play increases a lot. When they’re doing technique stuff they’re really focused, but it’s not with the same intensity. As soon as we start playing games we get this (fun) stuff, and this is what we’re looking for.”

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.