Here’s something you don’t hear very often this time of year, when teams are often forced indoors because of snow-covered playing surfaces.

“I don’t really look at being inside as a negative,” Madison softball coach Chris LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc, who is also Madison’s athletic director, coached the Bulldogs to the state championship last spring. That team went on a preseason trip to Florida to get in some preseason games. The Bulldogs are using this year for fundraising in the hopes of heading back down south next spring.

In the meantime, LeBlanc and his assistants are focusing on fundamentals. As LeBlanc tells it, he wants everyone on the team to be a softball player, and a softball player can play anywhere.

“We’ve certainly got to get outside, but at the same time, what do you truly get out of it when it’s 30 degrees, and the wind’s whipping, and there’s snow in the outfield?” LeBlanc said.

When the Bulldogs are inside, LeBlanc said, it’s not a matter of finding enough drills to fill the practice — it’s a matter of practice being over so quickly.

“For two hours, we don’t have enough time,” LeBlanc said. “We went over baserunning last night, and we only went over a few scenarios, and we were a half hour.”

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The Hall-Dale boys tennis team spent much of practice Wednesday clearing snow and ice off the courts.

“We have a lot out here,” coach Dan Bence said. “We have a lot of snow and then a layer of ice underneathe that. It’s a mess.”

The Bulldogs had use of a snowblower but otherwise relied on hands and shovels to clear the surface.

“We had everyone out shoveling,” Bence added. “What we need is a snowplow and a wider gate. Fortunately, our courts dry quickly, but we did some diagonal cuts to help with the direction of water flow. It’s pretty crazy.”

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Monmouth softball coach Dave Kaplan said the Mustangs coaches are re-tolling their players’ swings during preseason. The tool they’re using is a training system called RightView Pro, or RVP.

RVP was founded by former Major League catcher Don Slaught. The tool allows players to put video of their swings side by side with Major Leaguers or Olympic softball players. The video can be broken down frame by frame.

“It’s an incredible piece of technology,” Kaplan said. “What they’ve found is the baseball swing is the most efficient way to hit a softball.”

Kaplan admits that muscle memory is a barrier in learning a new swing in high school. But according to RVP’s website, the system is used by hundreds of “colleges, high schools, and MLB teams across the country as well as several Olympic and national teams across the world.”

Sports editor Bill Stewart and staff writer Matt DiFilippo contributed to this report.


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