Having a ball at Panther baseball camp

CHULA — A steady ping of bats and the popping of leather gloves will be heard this week at Tiftarea Academy. Monday opened its annual Panther Baseball Kids Camp.

Neither holidays nor heat kept young hardballers away. Tiftarea head coach Chance Benson estimated he had 65 of them in tow Tuesday, covering nearly every available inch of the baseball field. Scrimmages required kids to be split into two fields: baseball and softball.

Tiftarea baseball assistants, as well as players, are working under Benson for the camp. The kids and players seem to especially bond. Benson said the youngest participants look up to them. There was already a connection between the head coach and the kids. As nearly all those on the field are from Tiftarea, he knows their names from his physical education classes. Benson said there were only 15 or so names he has had to learn.

Different days are devoted to different activities.

“Monday through Wednesday,” said Benson, are “infield, outfield, hitting.”

He puts them through various stations, which includes drills in bunting, pitching and catching. Thursday will be competition day, which is also when the kids will get their T-shirts.

Those involved brought energy all the way to the end of the day. The last hour or so is devoted to scrimmages, which can be serious business for the elementary and middle schoolers. There was a debate about the batting order for one side occupying the main diamond.

The debate was soon settled with logic: “Cody’s fourth because he hits dingers.”

Baseball camp runs through Thursday. Tiftarea Academy is also hosting a P.E. camp this week it runs through Thursday as well. Benson returns to the field next week for the Tiftarea softball camp, which begins Monday, June 3, and lasts through June 6.

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