We reported in the past on this effort to raise money for ta batting-practice facility...they're still trying

COURTESY OF CLEVELAND HIGH - Heres the planned baseball and softball indoor hitting facility, for which funds are still being sought at Cleveland Highs sports field on S.E. Powell Boulevard. Cleveland High School is still aiming to create an indoor hitting facility to help grow their baseball and softball programs. The proposed building would stand at the Cleveland High track field - as shown in the photo above - and be available for youth baseball in the Southeast area. This project, reported previously in THE BEE, has been years in the making -- after being set back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We had permits. We had more than half the money. Right before COVID, we were making our last fundraising push, and were only about $75,000 short," sighed Cleveland baseball head coach Steve Geiszler. "COVID came and just stopped it. Once we came back out, the cost of materials went up triple. Plywood went from fifteen bucks to sixty dollars a sheet. Getting labor is tough now, because the trades are busy."

Whenever possible, Cleveland plays games and practices at Powell Park just across the corner from Cleveland High. But the park has natural grass and dirt that is pretty easily disrupted by the snows of winter and ensuing rains of spring. Mud and slick grass hinder the agility needed in baseball, and can quickly lead to injuries that can change a teenager's life.

"[We practice] wherever we can. We've used the Lincoln Youth Programs hitting facilities. We've been out to Putnam in the past. We are everywhere but our place," emphasized Geiszler.

Giving athletes an option to practice indoors not only eases injury concerns, but is essential in attracting talent from around the Portland area. High school athletes looking to develop a potential career in baseball at the collegiate level seek out facilities that will help them year-round.

"We lose players in our neighborhood to other schools who have these facilities," said Geiszler. "Kids who get serious about baseball see that we don't have these facilities. They start looking at other places."

Despite the setbacks, the team hasn't given up on making the facility happen, and is looking to raise an additional $125,000.

"We have plans. It's just getting everybody revamped, going out, and doing more fundraising again," said Coach Geiszler. "We got so close; and it was such a process to get to that point."

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