Mark’s on the Move: Fungo bat transforms ball game

Lawrence High School coach uses a little assistance during practice

Lawrence High baseball coach Brad Stoll gives infield practice using the fungo bat. The bat is designed to hit infield practice balls with little to no effort, making it easier for coaches.

Editor’s note: Reporter Mark Boyle takes us behind the scenes of news stories in the area. This week, he catches up with the Lawrence High School baseball team and learns about a valuable coaching tool. The fungo bat has revolutionized the way coaches give fielding practice, and Mark gave his best attempt to master the specially designed bat.

Coaches hit thousands of grounders and fly balls throughout the course of a baseball season, all in the name of practice. Every coach, at any level, will admit that his or her job is made easier thanks to the fungo bat.

“Sometimes it’s a fun outfield drill, but more than anything else it’s just fun to do,” said Brad Stoll, head coach of the Lawrence High School Lions baseball team.

The fungo bat is an end- loaded bat designed to hit infield practice balls with little to no effort by the coaches. The typical fungo bat is also several inches longer than a regular baseball bat.

“The baseball bat’s sweet spot is more in the middle, so the way that it’s balanced you really don’t have to do any work,” Stoll said. “We swing these things all practice … a regular bat would just wear you out, but this thing is heavy at the end and really does all of the work for you.”

Players also believe that the bat’s use improves their own game.

“He can put it about anywhere he wants,” said Aaron Rea, LHS shortstop. “It allows him to really decide where he wants us to field it and what he wants us to work on so he can hit it to our back hand or give us a slow roller. … He gets it to where we need it.”

Having a lifetime of baseball experience, I was game to give the fungo bat a swing, divvying out practice to the LHS infield.

The ability to place the ball where you want, when you want most certainly takes some practice.

At the end of my infield session, everyone had moved around so much chasing balls, they all ended up playing different positions.

But like everything, practice makes perfect, right?