Last summer Josh Satterwhite came within a foot of hitting a home run out of the biggest baseball field in Craig. This winter he hopes his work with a wood bat will increase his bat speed to allow him that extra foot.
"Usually we only get to come to the high school to play basketball in the winter," the eighth-grader said. "This year we've had the chance to play baseball and I'm ready to get aluminum in my hands again and see how I've improved."
Satterwhite was one of 20 baseball players ranging from fifth to eighth grade at the 2003 Bulldog's Best Baseball Clinic Tuesday in the Moffat County High School gymnasium. Several of the older players at the camp were taking batting practice with wood bats.
"Wood in the winter is what we teach the older kids," said Moffat County High School coach and camp coordinator Scott Parker. "Wood makes you a better hitter because you feel when you make a mistake. Aluminum allows you to make mistakes but still get hits."
Using wood in the off-season is one of many tips given to the baseball players at the camp held Monday through Wednesday this week.
"We've had a good turnout for both age groups," Parker said. "The younger we can start teaching them, the better off they'll be."
The younger age group of first through fourth graders had 25 participants. All learned learn from some of Craig's most successful baseball players.
"All of our instructors played at Moffat County High School and at the next level," Parker said in between throwing pitches in the batting cage. "Not only does the camp teach them about the sport, it shows them that you can be successful at it too."
Instructors included Parker, Kip and Corey Hafey, Robbie Satterwhite, Jared Kunkel and Jerod Estey, who all had the opportunity to play baseball beyond high school. Also at the camp was professional baseball player and MCHS alumnus Junior Herndon.
Tuesday the players went station by station learning to pitch, play the position of catcher, take batting practice with a wiffle ball, hit live pitching and catch fly balls.
"I need all the practice I can get," said sixth-grader Corey Wojtkiewicz. "I learned this week that I need to have a high leg kick when I bat. Kind of like Sammy Sosa."
Wojtkiewicz learned from Parker in the batting cage that transferring weight using a leg kick during swinging gives a batter more power.
"Baseball is a game of fundamentals," Parker said. "You teach a youngster the fundamentals and then build on to them. Just like adding a leg kick to a batting stance once they've mastered the basics."
Beyond the basics, the camp has given some of the players more confidence.
Chris Winder, Satterwhite's teammate, is anxious for the summer to come after getting a chance to improve in the winter.
"All of the guys are getting better in here," he said. "I think we'll be hard to beat since we're practicing now and not just in the springs and summer."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org