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Swing For The Fences All Year

Hit Lab Ball Players Leverage Professional Instructions At One of Middle Tennessee’s Largest Indoor Training Academies

Article by Paul Stanley

Photography by Courtesy of The Hit Lab

Originally published in Brentwood Lifestyle

Summer is prime time for baseball! OK, this year has been different, as many teams and leagues cut short or canceled seasons. Yet, thousands of area players continue to improve their swings and fielding skills in hopes of advancing to the next level. The Hit Lab in Nolensville provides that precise opportunity. 

In prior decades, baseball was a three- or four-month sport. While that may still apply to some recreational youth players, those wanting to compete at a higher level can work on their technique year-round at indoor training facilities. 

Like many youngsters, Joey Lewis dreamed of becoming a big-league ballplayer. After a career as an Atlanta area prep standout, Joey went on to play catcher for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, winning an SEC Championship in 2008. 

The following year, he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals organization where he played minor league ball for four years. After coaching stints at Georgia and Maryville College, he decided to open his own baseball training academy in Nolensville. 

“Baseball is a sport where developing individual skills is challenging in a team environment,” says Lewis. “Team practices are for developing team skills, and that’s vital. When it comes to improving skills like hitting, throwing or catching, specialized and individualized instruction is key. That’s why today’s kids utilize our facility and staff.”

The Hit Lab recently expanded from a 7,500-square-foot indoor facility to almost 11,000 feet, providing training, seven days a week for baseball and softball players. While hitting is the skill athletes spend the most time developing, the facility’s large turf area also gives players the chance to work on their infield skills. 

Inside are six pitching tunnels where mounds can be moved to suit an individual player or team’s level. When all the nets are raised an area almost as large as a full-size diamond emerges. 

Besides Joey, Josh Ethridge assists with hitting instruction. Will Haney, who played catcher at the University of Alabama recently joined the staff, as did Jordan Rodgers, a middle-infielder who played college ball at the University of Tennessee before being drafted by the Atlanta Braves organization. 

Rounding out the staff is former Virginia Tech standout and softball instructor Kat Banks. Kayla Sowinski also works with baseball and softball athletes as the strength and conditioning instructor.

One special feature at The Hit Lab is a dedicated HitTrax tunnel. This gives hitters, pitchers, and catchers advanced analytics and statistics for improving their swing and throwing technique.

“We measure everything and we don’t guess on anything,” Lewis explains when describing their instruction philosophy. “Most of our kids come in with lots of information so they’re accustomed to receiving detailed information.”

For example, catchers can improve their throw angle and “pop,” or release time for controlling base runners, while pitchers work on their velocity and plate placement. Hitters work on everything needed for a successful swing like impact point and launch angle. All of this is done with advanced, computer-generated video and analytics.

Joey reinforces that player safety is paramount at every level:  “Our goal is to make sure every athlete receives the finest individualized instruction possible, whether it’s hitting, throwing or conditioning. At the same time, we want to protect our athletes and make certain they don’t injure themselves by overtraining or playing too much. Working with players, coaches and parents helps us achieve that objective.”

  • Joey Lewis
  • Joey Lewis with Quinn Kunkle (13 year old)
  • Joey Lewis with Seth Gardner (Murray State baseball)
  • Joey Lewis with Eli Lamb (15 year old) and sister Mivie Lamb (11 year old)