Oak Creek — Kids who want to play baseball have a new opportunity at bat.
The Zone indoor baseball and softball training facility, 6758 S. 13th St., has created Zone Baseball, a competitive program for 8- to 14-year-olds to play local weekday games and travel tournaments on weekends.
Five former managers of Oak Creek Jr. Knights, a program of Oak Creek Little League, created Zone Baseball to up the competition for local athletes.
"We do think the competition will be higher; that was one of the reasons we decided to leave Jr. Knights," said Al Foeckler, an attorney at Cannon & Dunphy who proposed the idea for The Zone to the plan commission on April 22. Foeckler was a Jr. Knights coach for two years.
The Zone is a 15,000-square-foot training facility that occupies former warehouse space between Rawson and College avenues. It offers batting cages, pitching lanes with mounds, an 85-by-85-foot open fielding area and a 1,200-square-foot area for soft toss and tee work.
Zone Baseball has no residency requirements, but "our identity will be Oak Creek," Foeckler said. "We want to embrace the Oak Creek community."
The full roster will be 11 to 13 players. Home games will be played at The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin against other teams in the Rock League Baseball Youth Select.
Tryouts for Zone Baseball are Saturday, July 26.
"The combination of having an indoor facility as part of the program along with The Rock as our home is going to make it one of the premiere baseball programs in the area," said Foeckler.
The shortage of indoor training facilities and high demand for play space gave reason for The Zone's initial pitch before the plan commission in April. Other nearby indoor facilities include "The Halo" Milwaukee Angels baseball facility, 2060 S 54th Street, and Hitters Baseball Academy, 4726 6 Mile Road, in Racine.
The Zone is designed for team practices that pay an annual membership fee.
"It's about $200 per player (for the year)," Foeckler said in April. "In essence, it would be $4 per player, per practice."
There are about 53 Oak Creek Little League teams, 14 Oak Creek Jr. Knight teams and about 20 independent tournament-style teams in Oak Creek, said Mark Riha, president of Oak Creek Little League. There are also recreation department teams.
Final touches are still being put on The Zone, but it is scheduled to open in August for coaching clinics. Its official opening for team memberships is September 1.
Mark your calendars
What: Zone Baseball tryouts
When: Saturday, July 26
Where: The Rock Sports Complex, Franklin
Info: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your child for tryouts or visit zonebaseball.net.
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