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Hitting Academy puts kids in MLB stadiums

The Hitting Academy in Clearwater was the first to open in 2007. A third location is slated to open in Brandon in June and will allow youth baseball players to "hit" in Major League Stadiums. Photo courtesy of the Hitting Academy.

The Hitting Academy in Clearwater was the first to open in 2007. A third location is slated to open in Brandon in June and will allow youth baseball players to "hit" in Major League Stadiums. Photo courtesy of the Hitting Academy.

BRANDON — Fenway Park's Green Monster is coming to Brandon.

So, too, is the ivy that helped make Wrigley Field famous.

Youth baseball players will soon be able to simulate hitting in many Major League Baseball stadiums as part of The Hitting Academy's offerings when it opens the doors of its third bay area indoor facility next month in Brandon.

The 14,100-square-foot facility featuring indoor turf is slated to open at 1239 Kingsway Road adjacent to the Dollar General store. Rob Ciaravino, a local baseball coach who estimates he has delivered more than 19,000 hitting lessons in the past 20 years, originally opened The Hitting Academy in his native Clearwater in 2007 and expanded into Tampa in 2014.

"This is the future," said Ciaravino, who played baseball at Seminole High School before graduating in 1985 and eventually becoming the head coach at Countryside High School from 1994-97. "Getting these kids stronger and figuring out what they want to do. This is definitely the new generation."

The Hitting Academy will feature four batting cages and three private lesson cages where high-speed cameras capture the batter's swing on 60-inch flat screens and compare it to major league player's swings.

The HitTrax batting cage offers a high-tech, digital experience of playing in a MLB stadium while tracking measurable swing statistics such as ball exit speed and distance.

Former Major Leaguer Danny Garcia, who played second base for the Mets, oversees the strength and conditioning programs.

The Hitting Academy also will host birthday parties (including kickball) and seven weeks of summer camp. It also welcomes fast-pitch softball players. The Hitting Academy will open daily at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. on weekends and 9 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For more information, call (813) 657-2255.

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Hitting Academy puts kids in MLB stadiums 05/04/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 5:07pm]
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