Baseball unveils new facility ahead of season opener
Players call the newest addition to the Central Michigan baseball program something that’s "their own."
Just in time for the opening of the regular season, the new Performance Development Center on the northeast side of Theunissen Stadium opened its doors Friday for players to practice throwing and hitting.
"We can come in here whenever we want, and it'll be open for us only," senior infielder and outfielder Alex Borglin said. "We (couldn't) hit whenever we wanted to before, especially when it was cold out. We couldn't go outside and we couldn't go in the Indoor Athletic Complex because there are always other teams practicing in there."
The 7,000-square-foot facility is equipped with four bays separated by floor-to-ceiling nets, two of which include pitching mounds.
Head coach Steve Jaksa said the new complex will help improve the team’s hitting, catching and even recruiting.
"In the landscape of baseball at a Division I level, facilities are very important," Jaksa said. "The key to this facility is that very few (teams) have it attached right (next) to their clubhouse."
The $1.8 million facility was funded entirely through donations raised by university athletics. The Chippewa Athletic Fund is working toward the final phase of fundraising for the facility, which will include naming opportunities.
The PDC was made possible by a $500,000 anonymous matching donation announced on Sep. 28, 2015. The donor additionally pledged another $500,000 to match the other donations to the facility dollar-for-dollar.
The donation is the largest monetary commitment in the program's history and one of the largest in the athletic department's history, according to CMU athletics.
"A lot of work went into this," Jaksa said. "We had a vision of what we wanted, and then we received some very generous donations to help with that vision. There are so many advantages with this and recruiting is a big part of that. This is one more example of how CMU strives to provide the best for student-athletes."
The first players to throw and hit in the new PDC said the facility will help them by providing a space to develop their skills both during the season and the off-season.
"The good thing about this place is it has a lot of access to it," sophomore outfielder Daniel Robinson said. "Baseball is a sport that takes a lot of work and extra time, so having this place available for us to put in those extra hours is going to be huge for us this season."