Slo-Pitch Association installing batting cage for Rollo McClay ball fields

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, March 22 2016

The Gabriola Slo-Pitch Association has passed first base in getting a semi-permanent batting cage for the Rollo ball fields.

The Association has already purchased a pitching machine and has been testing it during the drop-in games on Sundays over the past couple of weeks.

More recently, Association Vice-President Steve Finney presented to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Gabriola Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC).

He asked for their approval for the Association to build a netted batting cage between the lower field and the new Rollo playground.

Good news for taxpayers, as Finney explained that the Association is not looking for any money or labour from the Regional District of Nanaimo. 

“The Association is willing to pay for anything we build as well as the labour to put it in.”

According to Finney a home for the pitching machine will be built at one end of the “cage,” and a concrete pad and lockable shed will hold it.

No power will be needed at the shed - whenever the machine is used, players will run power from the concession/equipment building. All the captains for the adult teams, as well as the coaches for the youth teams, will have access.

Finney said it is key that the machine be used with adult supervision, as it is capable of pitching balls in excess of 80 miles per hour.

Having the machine locked up on its own - as well as having the power source for it locked in a second building - met the concerns of POSAC members and Houle.

RDN Director Howard Houle said he appreciated that with the cage nets being 12 feet tall, they will provide a barrier between the playing field and the playground.

Overthrows to first base, and foul balls, should be blocked by the nets.

Finney was asked if chain link had been considered instead of netting to surround the cage.

He said the price point on chain link was much higher; the Association does not have that kind of money available.

The netting should last for eight to nine years.

Finney was also asked if the cage would stay set up year round.

He said the fields, if drop-in season is taken into account, are in use for nine to ten months of the year already, so it is likely the cage will just stay up.

POSAC members approved a motion recommending RDN Parks staff work with the Slo-Pitch Association so that the batting cage can be built.

The Gabriola Slo-Pitch Association adult season starts Saturday, April 23.