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Camp teaches skills to boys of summer

"Imagine playing baseball, hitting a short fly ball that drops into left field, and running 90 feet to first base to beat the throw by a second or two.Now imagine that you're 3-and-a-half feet tall and trying to do the same thing.About 50 little guys had to get used to the body size to field size disparity this week as they sharpened their baseball skills on the diamonds at South Whidbey Community Park. Enrolled in Northwest Baseball Academy, this group of 8- to 13-year-olds were at baseball camp this week, learning the tricks the big boys use to win. Academy head coach Mark Potoschnik said that in six hours a day for five days this week, the boys were learning how to hit, catch, run the bases, and be good team players. A half-dozen coaches guided the little hitters through drills during the week, giving each player the individual attention they needed to be solid players.We do what we need for him to get better, Potoschnik said of the one-on-one between coaches and players.On one of the diamonds, a camp coach served up slowballs to several little hitters. He made the balls easy to hit in order to get the campers to concentrate on their form, rather than on making contact. When he stepped up to the plate, 13-year-old Tony Parra got a grin on his face he couldn't shake. He sent ball after ball into the outfield -- something he rarely gets a chance to do in the highly-competitive juniors games he plays with the South Whidbey Marlins. About six balls in, the novelty wore off and Parra started concentrating on his swing and his foot positioning. He said he knew what he wanted to do at baseball camp the second his father signed him up earlier this spring. Probably get my skills on hitting and fielding, Parra said.About 100 yards away, in a grassy corner of the park's athletic fields, another coach was tossing out more slowballs to hitters. But this time, the emphasis was not on the hitting, but on the fielding skills of the five boys standing on the infield. Jensen Connor, 10, dove for almost every ball that came his way. And most of the time, he came up with the grab, to the disappointment of the fielders standing behind him. One boy consoled himself by throwing his own ball a few feet in front of himself then diving for it.The South Whidbey Parks and Recreation Department will sponsor one more baseball camp this summer. Running July 24-28, the camp for 6- to 12-year-olds will be run by Skyhawk Athletic camps and will be for softball and baseball baseball players. The cost for the five-day, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. camp is $88. The district is also sponsoring a Mini Hawk camp for 4-7-year-olds, which will teach a variety of sports, including baseball. The Aug. 17-21 camp costs $81. Call the parks district at 221-5484 for more information or to sign up."

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