The Strike Zone hits home run with renovation, instructors
By Diane Harrington
It wasn’t enough to have batting cages, a pitching area and three former Major League Baseball players as instructors at The Strike Zone. The owners of the Fishers sporting site wanted the facility to hit more of a home run than a double, explains Tyler Underwood, a senior associate with management company Revel & Underwood. So The Strike Zone brushed off its figurative home base, revamped the interior and made a few business tweaks, too. The result of the August face-lift is a fresher, cleaner appearance with additional features that offer more of what customers want, as well as more safety.
Open since 2007 at 12550 Promise Creek Lane — and well-positioned right across the street from Billericay Park, home to the area’s Little League program — the sporting venue offers much-needed access to year-round, 24/7 batting and pitching practice. Consequently, its three independent instructors, who rent time there, started picking up more and more clients.
“We decided to change our style from thinking about [having] all members to [adding] more classes. We want to be able to do more classes and camps and work even more with the instructors,” Underwood said.
The Strike Zone has already brought on a fourth instructor to add to the mix.
Instead of four batting cages and one pitching area, The Strike Zone now has three batting cages and two pitching areas.
“We realized that the fourth cage wasn’t being utilized as much, so we decided to back that cage out and add another pitching area,” Underwood said.
Two of their former MLB instructors focus on pitching skills, so this change makes it easier for them to book clients.
“Before, if one of them was doing a lesson, the other struggled a little bit,” Underwood said.
In addition, the pitching lanes are wider now.
“You don’t feel like you’re in some really small tunnel trying to throw the ball. It’s nice to have a little more room,” he said.
That change allowed The Strike Zone to create three 60-foot-long batting cages that are taller, larger and wider than before. It helped transform the increasingly raggedy look of the cages. Before, a lack of room meant swinging bats sometimes put holes in the cages.
“Now, people can move around a little easier in there and not cause any damage to the cages,” said Underwood, noting that by no longer having to pin back ripped nets, the area is significantly safer.
The west wall is now covered with plywood and painted a bright blue. That serves to hide the building’s insulation but, more important, gives the batter a much better view of the ball as it flies. The east wall also is adorned with blue-hued plywood, both to protect the drywall and so catchers can pick up the baseballs a little more easily.
A new rack area keeps equipment tidy, and a new security system allows better monitoring of the facility to keep unwanted behavior at bay.
The Strike Zone’s newest instructor is Travis Reboulet, who played IPFW Division 1 baseball. He’s focusing on pitching and hitting.
The other three instructors are:
- Jim Reboulet (Travis’ father), a former St. Louis Cardinal and Pittsburgh Pirate. He’s been coaching for more than 18 years and specializes in hitting and throwing.
- Casey Mulligan, a former Cardinal. He works with clients on pitching, hitting and catching.
- Wes Whisler, who has been with the Chicago Cubs and White Sox and currently plays for the Charlotte Knights. He tackles pitching and hitting during October, November and December.
“Their experience, their knowledge, shows how we take baseball serious; we don’t let just any Joe come in off the street and give instruction,” Underwood said. “We make sure we have quality and very professional people in there giving instruction to our members and people in the community.”
The instructors are independent from The Strike Zone, but they work with the facility like a well-coached team, coming together to offer camps and classes.
“Our members are families with any kid between the ages of 8 and 18 that’s big into baseball and wants to be able to practice during the winter and on the side during the season. When we opened the facility, I was in high school, and we were tired of driving 35 minutes into Noblesville. There was nothing right here in Fishers,” Underwood said.
The instructors and clientele have been extremely happy with the renovations, Underwood said.
“It’s just given a little more room for everybody to work,” he said.