The Atlanta Braves Foundation and Truist Bank held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Clark Atlanta University’s campus to unveil the new batting cage they constructed for the Panthers baseball and softball teams.
The ceremony took place Tuesday, July 25 and opened with a musical performance from the Atlanta Braves Heavy Hitters, the team’s drumline. Following the performance those in attendance heard speeches from the Vice President of Community Affairs and Executive Director of the Atlanta Braves Foundation Danielle Bedasse, Clark Atlanta University Athletic Director Dr. Jerrel Drew, Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer Sam Burston, and Mrs. Billye Aaron, the widow of Atlanta Braves great and Baseball Hall of Famer Henry Aaron.
Also in attendance was the Atlanta Braves mascot Blooper and Judge Brenda Cole, the wife of the late Dr. Thomas Cole Jr., the first President of Clark Atlanta University.
The ribbon was cut by the CAU baseball Kentaus “K.C.” Carter. There was a ceremonial first hit in the cage from CAU softball player Jazmin Scott and CAU baseball player Khail Manuel.
Players and coaches were asked how they feel about the new batting cage and what the construction of it means to them.
Jason Jones, another CAU baseball player said, “It feels great. It feels like it is a step in the right direction, and it feels like this will be the start of something beautiful here at CAU.”
Manuel added, “I was here when there was a piece of a batting cage over here, so I feel like this is important to help the players here perfect their craft…to me it means [the Atlanta Braves Foundation] see something in us and they know that we are capable of making the best out of what they have given us and just continue to provide for future generations.”
CAU softball player Rasheedah Hassan said, “I feel like it is a great gesture based on the fact that we did not have a big batting cage, so this is coming from nothing and having this for us is really going to change up our game, drastically.”
She added, “Honestly, it means a lot, especially for us being able to work on something and it being in a facility like this, this is not something that we are used to. For me it just means growth.”
Carter, who has coached baseball at the university for years said, “I really do not feel anything, I am just at a loss for words for what this beautiful batting cage will afford to do. It allows us the opportunity to always get some work in…One of our mottos last year was ‘let’s hit every day’ and with this cage we will definitely be able to do this.”
The batting cage is covered by a roof and has lights meaning that players will be able to hit all hours of the day no matter the weather.
“It’s really just not about me, but the fact that I was the head coach when this was built, it’s going to be a legacy that will live on for me,” added Carter.
Assistant CAU softball coach Ray Malone said, “First, I would like to thank the Braves organization and Truist for this new tool. I call it a tool simply because of the fact that it allows our players to get more reps. In the old cage we had to share with the baseball team. Either the baseball team was in there or the softball team. This represents a big improvement of what we had before and also allows our players to get more reps.”
Drew, the school’s athletic director said of the new cage, “It is wonderful. The biggest thing is the commitment they put into building us a facility for our student athletes. A place where they can grow and a place where they can hone their skills.”
Bedasse expressed what it means to provide CAU softball and baseball with a new batting cage.
“I think I have the best job in all of baseball. I get to build community through baseball, I get to provide opportunities, I get to connect people with a sport and a game that we love.