The Mineral County High baseball team stands in front of its new batting cages, the Steve Bowles Baseball Factory.

After nearly two years, the Serpent Baseball batting cages are complete…. sort of. Although they have been in use for over three months, they were not officially completed until the final sign was hung last week. That sign, with the words “Steve Bowles Baseball Factory” on it marked the (almost) end to a process that began in the summer of 2014.

Before we give thanks to those who made this all possible, allow me to take you on the long journey to completing this outstanding hitting facility. In May of 2014 we were fortunate enough to receive a major donation from a friend of a high school staff member. That donation consisted of an Iron Mike pitching machine (valued at around $4,000) and the net and skeleton for a single 70 foot batting tunnel. The only catch was that we had to travel to Salt Lake City to dismantle it and haul it home. Three of us took on the task. We travelled there and upon a few dangerous mishaps, survived the challenge of dismantling it, loading it up and hauling it home.

Once the unit was home, now the task of finding someone to build the facility was at hand. I decided that I wanted to build two enclosures with three cages in each. This would not only protect the valuable machine we had just attained, but allow us to expand in the future. My goal was to create a facility that baseball players of all ages in our community could benefit from. I was quoted $10,000 for the entire build. The reality was that with a school sports budget I was never going to reach that mark, so I decided to begin the fundraising process.

I first sent out letters to local businesses requesting donations. Then, I created a GoFundMe account online. These two attempts, along with many other smaller school fundraisers, put us over the mark we needed to begin construction.

I hired a contractor out of Fallon, only because more local contractors were unable to take on the job. That contractor assured me that the cages would be completed by the team’s first game on the 2015 season. It was not. In fact, it wasn’t even completed by the last game of the season. What he completed was the framework, concrete and a small portion of the chain link needed to enclose the entire structure. All in all, about 1/3 of the cage was completed by the contractor.

At this time I inquired about the status of the build, only to find out that the contractor had left us flat. He decided not to finish the job, but luckily did not charge us for the labor. At this time, I had to travel to Fallon to retrieve materials from his home, that we had purchased, in order to complete the job.

We then were faced with the task of completing the cages ourselves. A small handful of adults and baseball players went to work. We spent most of the summer of 2015 working toward completing the cage and up until about three months ago, were still putting things together in order to make the cage completely functional.

Now the task of finding a trustworthy contractor to complete the second cage is the next challenge at hand.

Make no mistake. This cage that is dedicated and named after my former assistant coach and friend, the late, great Steve Bowles, is the best high school level hitting facility I have ever seen. I have travelled to many high school baseball parks in this state and I have never seen anything like it. It is even more state of the art than many college baseball facilities. It has a remote controlled Iron Mike pitching machine, a Jugs short range pitching machine, two soft toss nets, four tees, two Hit-Zones, two string drills, loaded with nearly 30 bats of all sizes and lined with top of the line LED lights. It allows for a 21 station hitting circuit and is like hitting on an assembly line.

I would now like to extent a heart felt thank you to all those who made this possible: Rita Vaden; Joey Barta; Walker Lake Crusaders; Braina Hardy; Angie Materazzi; Thelesa Montoya-Neves; Karli Wilbur; Sharon Vasquez; Brandon Womack and Hillary Pellett; Bobby Jenkins and family; Robert Berrier; Jason and Melissa Cardenas; Kyle Isom; Megan McConnell; Roby McKnight; Dea Minnitte-Hamrey; Megan Bera; the Hagen tribe; Justin Manfredi; Jaime Cardenas; William Buttram; Walt Hackford; Lucas Solomon; Coleen Ketchum-Lawrence; Kyle Hofer; Jacquere Lipscomb; Christy and Noah Joyce; Rick Hamrey; Eric Hamrey; Kenny Bostic Memorial Youth Athletic Fund; Borealis Mining Co.; Marc White; Pizza Factory; WESCO; Thomas Gallegos; NV Energy; Bill Fraser Insurance; Tholl Fence; SOC; Scotty’s/Bill’s Food Mart; Casey Kee; P & P Hair Designs; Valley Propane; Cornerstone Ready Mix; Robert Cooper; Linda Hoster; Justin and Mary Millward; Financial Horizons Credit Union; Larry Spickert; G-Dub’s Construction, Old Nevada Pizza; MCHS Booster Club; Gary Moody; John Gavin; Sign City; Janell Carlos; MCSD Maintenance Department and the members of the Serpent Baseball Team who spent their hot summer days completing this build. Whether you were a donor or a laborer, this facility would have never been completed without you. Thank you from the Serpent Baseball coaches and players.