Local boys dabble on the diamond

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 10, 2002

Before he came to the Bobby McKinney Baseball Summer Camp at Nansemond River High School earlier this week, C.J. Armory was having trouble getting power behind his throws.

&uot;My arm was pretty weak,&uot; says the John F. Kennedy Middle School student, 11. Ready to move up to the Major league of Bennetts Creek Little League baseball, C.J. knew he’d need to strengthen up.

Over the past week, C.J. and his campmates learned the fundamentals of baseball. Every day they participated in drills of hitting, fielding, running, and, of course, throwing.


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During the hurling drills, C.J. felt his arms getting stronger. &uot;When I first came, I couldn’t throw the ball very hard,&uot; he says. &uot;But now (at the end), I can throw it really, really hard!&uot;

McKinney, who has been holding baseball camps for over two decades, was pleased with how C.J. and the rest of the youths performed at the camp.

&uot;This has been a really fun week,&uot; he told his charges at the end of Friday’s workout. &uot;There was never a moment’s worth of problems. I hope to see all of you next week.&uot; McKinney will be holding a camp at his indoor training facility near Western Branch High School beginning Monday morning.

The kids learned a great deal about hitting the ball. Early Friday, they racked up points in a batting practice contest.

McKinney sat behind a net and tossed balls to the batters. If the ball made it to the outfield, participants received one point. If the ball hit the net, they got two.

&uot;If this were a real game, hitting it hard into the net area would be a good hit,&uot; he explained. After four rounds of play, Dillian Dextradeur, 9, who came all the way from Virginia Beach to take part in the camp, was declared the winner with 20 points.

After catching a few fly balls, the players took part in a &uot;home run derby.&uot; Standing near the first base line, they attempted to hit wiffle balls over the fence behind first base. If a player knocked a ball over the fence, his team (there were two teams) received two points. But if a member of the opposing team was able to catch the ball, a point was deducted from the batting team’s score.

&uot;We’ve had teams come to bat leading in the bottom of the last inning, and end up losing the game!&uot; McKinney joked.

It was during this drill that Martin Terwillinger, 10, got to show his hitting skills. &uot;This is definitely my favorite drill,&uot; said the Nansemond-Suffolk Aca-demy student, cranking out one &uot;round-tripper&uot; after another. &uot;It’s very competitive out here.&uot;

At the end, Martin’s team narrowly comes out on top, 36-33. &uot;It felt great to hit all those homers!&uot; he shouts.