Business

D-BAT Marion batting facility aims to be a hit with children, adults

Chase Cubbage, 12, of Hiawatha practices in a batting cage D-BAT in Marion on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. Players can choose
Chase Cubbage, 12, of Hiawatha practices in a batting cage D-BAT in Marion on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. Players can choose the pitch speed for baseballs and softballs in the cages. The recently-opened facility is a locally-owned franchise and offers batting and pitching cages, private and group lessons and a pro shop. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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MARION — D-BAT Marion has been open officially only for about a week, but the new indoor baseball and softball academy already could be called a big hit — pun intended.

Darren Lewis and Casey Pauli, former baseball players, opened D-BAT Marion together earlier this month. The 20,000-square-foot training facility features 15 indoor batting cages designed to be used by players of every level of baseball and softball.

“We can do baseball, fast-pitch softball and slow-pitch softball which is really exciting and unique,” Lewis said.

“It’s just about getting kids better at baseball and softball,” he said. “We want to get them in the door for lessons or camps and doing some hitting. We want a 10-year-old that comes in batting seventh in the line-up to end up batting sixth.”

D-BAT stands for “developing beliefs, attitudes and tradition,” he said.

While the target audience is players ages six to 14, D-BAT has equipment and capability to cater to high school and college players, as well as adults still playing for fun and fitness.

“We have a man in his 60s who stops in every day to hit on the machine, so we really can cater to all ages,” Pauli said.

“And we really tailor to three different sports and we are really excited about splitting the gap and making this a place for boys and girls,” Pauli said. “There are no excuses not to bring your daughter in to hit some softballs.”

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A team of full- and part-time employees serve as the instructors for all lessons and the various camps and clinics D-BAT will offer throughout the year.

“We had 60 kids in here when they had the day off school for Presidents Day,” said Pauli. “When school is out, D-BAT is in. It’s really going to be busy in here this summer.”

They purposely built the new facility just off Highway 13 in Marion.

“We think the proximity to Prospect Meadows seems ideal and we are excited about the opportunity to partner with teams using that great facility,” Lewis said.

D-BAT also offers a full retail pro shop within the facility where they carry major brands of helmets, gloves and bats.

“We compete with online shopping, but we are finding that people really like the idea of coming to shop here because we specialize in baseball and softball and they can get expert help,” Lewis said.

Lewis stressed D-BAT is open to the public seven days a week.

“Our five machine cages can never be reserved in advance, so you can walk in the door at any time to use those. And no one has anything like the technology we have in those cages ... . They pitch real baseballs and softballs,” he said.

“We have a lot of high school kids coming in here right after school already.”

Memberships are available.

Both Lewis and Pauli grew up playing whiffle ball in their neighborhoods, then baseball through college, and play on adult leagues today. Lewis and his father — a former Kirkwood Community College baseball coach — formerly operated a membership-only training facility in Solon.

“We really saw a need for something like D-BAT in this area and Casey reached out and said he’d be interested in partnering with us,” Lewis recalled.

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“We just really see the value in working with kids and creating opportunities for them to enjoy the game,” Pauli said.

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At a glance

• Co-owners: Darren Lewis and Casey Pauli

• Business: D-BAT Marion

• Address: 1783 Red Fox Way, Marion

• Phone: (319) 409-9000

• Website: dbatmarion.com

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