Battle beside the batting cage


Sofia Barassi

Jonathan Brunkhardt ‘18 and Scott VanCoughnett ‘18 gaze bitterly at the softball and baseball batting cage, located on the ceiling in the gymnasium. The volleyball teams have claimed that the low-lying cage gets in the way of their games. “It sucks,” says Burkhardt.

Sofia Barassi, Assistant Sports Editor

Both the softball and baseball teams at Hollis Brookline High School raised money to pay for the batting cage in the gymnasium, which was installed last year, hoping it would benefit their play. However, there has been considerable controversy over the placement of the cage even though it was paid for by the two teams.

The cage is located just inside the main entrance of the gym on the ceiling. It covers the first half of the court from sideline to sideline, and is made with long metal pipes which form a large rectangular shape. The cage lowers down with a detachable net to pull over it for the use of the baseball and softball teams. The players use the cage for both safety and to improve their hitting skills during the off-season. The cage prevents baseballs and softballs from hitting players during practice inside the gym. “It allows the majority of the players who don’t play baseball on a private team to get that practice in and improve their skills for the school team during the spring,” said Kyle Hsu ‘19, member of the varsity baseball team.

The batting cage was purchased by the baseball and softball teams with their fundraising money to help them better utilize their gym time during the off-season. Not only does the cage provide a safe area to practice hitting the ball, but it helps add teamwork to the mix. “The cage allows the baseball team to get together as a group instead of hitting on our own time, so it builds chemistry,” said Hsu.

The batting cage also allows for the season for the baseball and softball teams to start with the rest of the spring sports, even if the fields are covered in snow. The extra practice time will help the team improve their skills. “The season typically starts late because of the constant rain and snow, so it’s great that we have the cage inside, so we can get some productive hitting done,” said Avery Webb ‘18, member of the softball team.

Although the batting cage might be advantageous to the baseball and softball teams, what about the volleyball teams? How are they affected by the cage hanging down on their court? Brodie Kelley ‘19, a varsity volleyball player, explained why the cage is problematic. “The batting cage is a safety hazard when someone passes a hard hit and it goes up and hits the cage. [The ball] will come down at unpredictable angles.”

A similar opinion to Kelley’s emerges when members of the boys’ varsity volleyball team explain some of the problems with the batting cage. “The pipes from the cage get in the way. The setter will try to set the ball and it will hit the pipe. Therefore, the ball goes elsewhere and puts a damper on the game,” said Jonathan Brunkhardt ‘18, varsity volleyball player.

Teammate Scott VanCoughnett ‘18 feels the same way about the obstruction of the batting cage. The cage has become a mental challenge when playing on the court. “If a ball goes down on the floor that someone thought they could make a play with, it upsets all of us. We joke, but sometimes it’s frustrating,” said VanCoughnett.

As for a solution, there is no way to relocate the cage during the season due to the cost of labor. The cage was bought with hard-earned money and is a favorite of the baseball and softball athletes. The volleyball teams realize this and take into consideration the disadvantages of playing an outside sport. “If I could change something, I would have the cage relocated during the season, but I know that is not very logical or practical,” said Kelley.

We will see where this predicament will go as all four teams take their sides of the argument. Why should the baseball and softball teams give up their hard earned utility? Who will win the battle of the batting cage?