FORT RUCKER, Ala.--The weather was not the only reason baseball and softball bats were hot here June 17 when many locals hit some pitches during the post's new batting cages' grand opening.

The construction of the new cages, located on Fifth Avenue near the post office, is the first step in a plan to build new and upgrade current Child and Youth School Services (CYS2) sports facilities, said Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Director Tim Laster. Other steps in the plan include resurfacing the football field and constructing two new baseball fields.
Soldiers and Families braved the hot weather last week to take swings in four different batting cages - one each for fast-pitch and slow-pitch baseball and softball.

CYS2 Sports Director Randy Tolison said he believes the cages will help the CYS2 baseball and softball programs grow. "It gives them another avenue, another opportunity to get involved," he said.

Ashlyn Heimberger, 13, agreed. "It's a pretty great thing. It gets a lot more kids excited to (be) involved," she said.

Parents also love having the batting cages on post because it saves time and travel costs for their children to receive extra batting practice.

"It's nice to have it locally instead of having to travel to Dothan," said Amy Smith, who brought her 7-year-old son, Bailey, to the batting cages. "It was his first season of baseball (this year), and he's absolutely infatuated with it. He said, 'We can go every day.'"

Children were not the only ones enjoying the cages at the grand opening. U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) Command Sgt. Maj. Tod L. Glidewell took some practice swings before hitting the ceremonial first pitch.

"I wasn't trying to hit a home run. When you've got an audience, you've got to make contact," he said.

Cost to use the batting cages is $1 per token or $10 for 12 tokens. The pitching machines will throw 15 balls per token. The cages are open 4 to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.