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Because of the recent site clean up one of my favorite topics was deleted, that being the one about top hitting instructors. It was through that that we found Steve Hayward at Strikes. I know there are alot of other great places to take lessons so I was hoping the topic would get started again. If it can help point someone else in the right direction then it will be worth it. There are alot of new people on the site lately so maybe we can help them out.

I'll start out and obviously I'd pick Steve Hayward at Strikes. Besides his technical knowledge on hitting he makes it fun for the players. Also, the atmosphere at Strikes is great.
Original Post
lol...In my opinion, when you hit .207 and strike out 1 out of every 4 times to the plate and you're 22 or so, they release you, you don't ask them for a release.

MLB organizations are real harsh on college players who they deem to be "organizational players" and don't produce immediately...Their attitude: let's see what we get in the next draft.

I was a hamburger, I know. All of you in high school hoping to get drafted and then give up some college and college money for $750 per month (for 3 months and then you have to get a real job) and a couple of coupons to McDonald's.

That is why school/college is so important for high schoolers...Can take away your dream of playing professional baseball, but they can't take what you have in your mind away from you.
Hope every thing going well with you. I can't wait for is final year of HS baseball to start. Hope your son the best.This is what i found . Missouri Signing Class
RHP Aaron Crow - Wakarusa, Kansas (Washburn Rural)
LHP Ron Martin - St. Louis, Missouri (Forest Park CC)
C Dan Wise - Olathe, Kansas (North)
LHP Rick Zagone - Crystal Lake, Illinois (Prairie Ridge)
INF Kyle Mach - Chesterfield, Missouri (Parkway West)
RHP Brett Reynolds - Pea Ridge, Arkansas (Crowder CC)
2B Clay Ivy - Knoxville, Tennessee (Farragut)
LHP Ryan Lollis - Houston, Texas (Houston Christian)
RHP Jeff Duda - British Columbia (Central Arizona CC)
LHP Cory Lambert - Bryant, Arkansas (Bryant)

I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but doesn't it stand to reason that if you were standing further away from the hitter, wouldn't it be more difficult to properly see the swing. After all, wouldn't the tosser/pitcher be trying to avoid being hit by the batted ball (we know there is some sort of screen being used)?

Have you ever tried tossing or pitching from behind a screen from some far distance (more than 15 feet), get it over the plate, and still be able to evaluate the hitters swing. I DON'T THINK SO!!! Smile

If you can do this, let me know, because I would love to see this. I will even be more than happy to have my son take a lesson from you.

Id have to go with my instructor Todd Poe at the Future Swings Academy. He has helped me get my rythym back after I tore my PCL and I am now a better hitter than I ever was before. I give many thanks to Todd and his crew for helping me get to where I am now, otherwise I probably would not have gotten a scholarship to college. By far Todd Poe is the best hitting instructor I have worked with.
oach Steve Haywood is the name on the street as the best, plus he is a loyal American and wears great hats. (Steve, we met this summer in Indianapolis. You watched my son pitch against and beat a humbled Rawlings National team in 8 innings). One special hitting coach who is not associated with a private school is Al Liermann. Al is currently a coach for Addison Trail and has a son Ryan who was drafted by the White Sox and plays for Rockford I believe. Al understands hitting.
i hit with steve hayward at strikes.. i have been hitting with him for 3 years and he is the reason i have had 3 successful hitting seasons for montini. hitting with steve has been my best investment so far.. whats the good of going to the cages if u have a poor swing?
i reccomend steve to every gradeschool/highschool and college ball player.. he is the best must either own Stella's, have been living in a cave or....your just CHEAP!

O.F.04....The instructor's at WSA run the gamut. Many of ther better fellow's with good current hitting thought are now off for thier pro season. You really need to go to the WSA and pick someone out..they have several former player's and some excellent people to choose from. As I have noted on the board previously, the WSA is really about membership, which is hard to come by. IMO, if membership is unavailable, then Strikes would be a far better venue. Ask for Pat,Jim or Steve. You'll be glad that you did! are way too humble

I know for fact there are quiet a number of players who wouldn't be the hitters they are without your help.

Stand up and take some deserved credit!!

It is quiet obvious that nl fan has no clue about the game and what it takes to be successful. @0 years ago...guys just knew how to hit...but the game has evolved and to be successful, smart players..."even those who know how to hit" fine tune with the help of someone who has a keen I.

I personally wouldn't lose any sleep by postings of nlfan

All the coaches. keep up the great work...the player value your services
nl Fan

I agree with you, there are a lot of Hitting Instructors out there that are bad, and just want your money. But there are a select few that are good, and who would probably do it for free if they could. If you or your child was not happy after a lesson, it may not have been the instructors fault. Athletes have to want to learn, they have to be coachable. If the kid does not have the drive and determination, you are right, don't waste your time or money ... because you darn well aren't going to get anything out of it.

Everybody wants to point a finger instead of looking in the mirror.
To me, a good instructer is somebody that was a combination great hitter/ pitcher,and who played a high level of the game. Thats not to say guys who didnt play up can not be good. With experience comes knowledge and I think longer you play the game or coach the game the more you learn from the Coaches you play for. Jack Perconte would be a guy I would feel real comfortable sending a kid to. He was given many different philosophies from many different coaches and used what worked for him. There are alot of guys out there with great credentials, my advise is to use the good ones but don't stay with the same guy all the time. Get as much knowledge from as many different creditable people as you can. Much of being a good teacher is making the player beleive that what your telling him works. There are a whole bunch of different ways of getting it done. Being confident and beleiving in what your doing at the plate or on the mound is a big a part of game as any. Get your lessons and your Reps, what about the guys that played 20 yrs ago, Lessons? This isnt a lesson basher message, I have done a few, I beleive in giving some of the info back, just get blown away with the way people talk about whos the best. Am I the only guy who thinks this way? To the last guy , I beleive Powers is a strike guy, Weston is a Sam Sorci guy, Tommy Cervin I know has worked with John Cangelosi, The kid Courtright I beleive is better known for the leather and the speed and i couldnt tell you who he works with. Despensa is a strikes guy.
NL fan , I see where you are coming from, I wasnt saying I hit / pitched in college, just saying whatever the instructer you are looking for I think you A- should have done it a a high level, B- can teach it at a high level. Pleanty of good players and instructers out there just find one that makes you happy and better.
I am not sure it is possible to ever name "the" man. There are, however, a number of very good ones. Jack Perconte, Steve Hayward, Tony Tichy, and Phil Apostle, just to name a FEW. I know there are a number of other tremendous hitting instructors out there. Find the guy that is "the" guy for you--and stick with it!
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I restarted this thread way back when the first one was wiped out. I hope that it continues to serve a purpose and help players and parents get connected to someone who can help them get better. It was never intended to find out who the best was but to let people what's out there for them. From the looks of things there are a lot of great options.

One side topic about this. I've noticed a few high school coaches named. Who do people consider the better high school hitting coaches? In other words, guys not charging $ but as a general result of coaching their HS team produce good hitters.
My good friend jca pops and I think the top hitting insructors are Todd Poe SI bullets and Steve Heyward. Also Todd is one the best coaches in Illinois. Steve, Todd is also looking for a second basemen and you know you never have enough pitching.Bill Sing is also a great guy to hit with. My son loves to hit with all three of these guys. They all have the same concept about hitting the baseball. Aso the next great hitting instructor will be styles(Mike Stalowy) Hes a great student of the game.So in ten or fifteen years I will take my grandson to him for free.But the main thing about a hitting instrutor is your kid most connect with them.
hey jca fan(stan craven) and jca pops ( big renell) you guys need to stop hanging out on the east side of joliet.... and you know im charging you double for your lessons... i do agree with you about connecting with the kid you are working with, you have to make them laugh and make them feel comfortable around you in order for them to be succesful... the younger they are the more " positive sandwiches" you need to feed them... the older the hitter the more serious you can be
The top high school players seem to gravitate toward Strikes Baseball Academy in Broadview. The feedback we receive indicates Steve Hayward, Jim Donovan and Jason Shelly (making quite an impact with the younger 08 & 09's) are the go-to guys for hitting. Scott Nelson and Alvie Shepard for pitching. Many people relay that the areas top instructor is Sam Sorce (Prairie Gravel) when you can book him at Line Drive in Chicago. The Sox facility has several great instructors.
Sam Sorce is "the man". Nothing against Steve, he is a good hitting instructor but, Sam is the man in Chicago. My son owes him everything. he was there at such an early age to teach him every aspect of the GAME. He should charge 100 bux an hour. And you still couldn't get in with him. He knows the game thru and thru. Alot of kids in the area owe him a huge debt. And if they are going to college to play ball they should call him and say thanks,in my opinion. That is the least they could do. I thank you sam sorce from the bottom of my heart. I beleive you are the reason that Danny is the player he is. Thanks so much and I'll see ya down at ISU. Good luck to Danny sorce this spring at ISU.
You can attempt to contact Sam Sorce at or visit his web site at Sam is not taking a 15U team this summer. He is hard to get in touch with, however feel free to send us PM and we will work to to get you some more contact info. Sorce is a legend and this guy has the pedigree to back it up. He pitched for Miami, beat the Rocket and won a World Series. His Prairie Gravel teams command respect on the national scene and from what we hear the parents line up to get their kids on his teams.
With all do respect. I wouldn't say parents are lined up to have their kids play for Sam Sorce. Your correct though that Sorce is tough to get a whole of. If you leave him a message and tell him you have a check for him, then you'll be able to get a whole of him. His PG teams were strong years ago when my son played. Now they're still good but far from great. The 14 and 16u teams last year were weak nationally. He's not coaching a 15u team this year. I'm not surprised.
Irish, with all due respect...I'm sure you meant to say get a hold of....Yes they (parents) do line up my friend. Sorce runs a fall camp/league in Burr Ridge and I can tell you this (as fact) the parents line up and in some cases beg for a spot on one of his summer teams. The comment about having a check is a cheap shot, but that seems to be the norm on this site. Let's review your other comment, his teams were weak at 14 & 16?? OK , the 14's won both the 54/80 & 60/90 State Championship, qualified for two World Series events and it is reported that Sam could have dominated many teams but chose instead to develop ALL the kids on his roster. Apparently the win loss record and plaque on the wall seems less important to this individual. The 16's also had an impressive team that certainly doesn't deserve the weak comment. The people in the business know that Sorce can put together teams that can compete on the national stage. We saw all the top teams in the country last season and guess what....Sorce's 14U team last summer was rock solid, Chris Briggs 08 Varsity Montini, Barrett Serrata 08 Varsity at West Chicago, Connor Duckhorn 09 Hinsdale, Ryan Pacyga 09 probable Varsity as a freshman , Rich Zajewski Hinsdale. When Sorce wanted to win, which he did at tournaments..They did!
I was just mentioning what I heard from last year. Both teams had some unhappy parents that were promised alot more from Sorce. As for his teams last year, Prairie Gravel didn't beat any top teams or win any big time tournaments under Sorce's coaching. One parent told me he wasn't even at half of the games, or he came late to some of them. I mentioned his teams in the past were very good. Last year PG took a major step back especially at the 14 year old level. Many have said it. That's not a cheap shot, just a fact. He's a good coach. I never said he wasn't, but there's many very good coaches out there. As for developing his entire roster. I would sure hope he does, considering the money involved. Most of the top 14u players didn't play for Prairie Gravel last year, an I can also verify that alot of the top 16u players played on better Illinois teams as well. Nothing personal, have a nice day.
Lineshot, that might have been true in the past, although over the last two seasons Prairie Gravel recruited more than anyone. It's just that they didn't have alot of success in doing so. Maybe Sam doesn't do the recruiting personally, but Prairie Gravel reps sure did. Many southside teams top players were recruited by Prairie Gravel last year, luckily for those players they stayed with their current team and had a good season. Those teams are still going strong in 06, and Praire Gravel's team folded this summer.
Irish you make some valid points. We have received numerous emails since posting here. Several from parents that had kids on said 14U team. You are correct in the assessment that several were expecting more and that Sam seemed a little less focused than in prior years. I guess the bottom line is that this guy is a very respected baseball coach who has demonstrated in the past that he worthy of such praise. It seems unfortunate that he is letting things slide. This guy could potentially run a national powerhouse program. I know you will bat that down with reference to his alleged failure at drawing the top talent. This we disagree with, we know there was a waiting list for his teams and that if this guy put some effort into this, he would be successful at building a top notch program. You again mention that his 14's & 16's were weak, unless you saw them as we did, we again disagree with this perception. They had a powerful lineup with decent pitching. We are not saying they were a national championship team by any means, however they looked as though they could give anybody a game. We underscore the games we observed, Sorce could have gone for the jugular and without hesitation he would follow his own plan regardless of what the parents may have wanted. That being said, when you mention that he didn't beat any top teams, we must ask the question: did Sorce care about that or was he more interested in something far more important. When we scout these teams we look at the players, how they react, respond and even how they warm up, we don't focus on the win loss record, rather we target the kids that are emerging as impact players. Apparently we are on the same page with Sorce. (the cheap shot referenced the comment about a check in hand) Kevin Thomas
Corky well articulated! Here is some local baseball news: The Illinois USSSA 14U State Champ Dupage Diamondbacks picked up 4 new players for 2006. The new leadoff off man; (John Kurpiel) is a real burner, the other is a big kid (Brian Krolikowski) 6'2" 200 pounds. Brian is one of the top 10 hockey players in the country for his age, he was also the starting halfback for his football team. He runs fast, has tremendous power and on top of that he is a frontline pitcher. They also picked up Chris Briggs and John Carlson from Illinois CABA State Champion Prairie Gravel. This team is talented enough to compete with the top teams in the country. They will be participating in the Travel Ball Select Tournament of Champions. Their coaching staff has bought in Jared Folley asst head coach Waubonse Valley HS (Mike Bowdin's old HS coach) as their hitting coach and Mike Palmer one of the top pitching coach/ physical conditioning in the Chicago area to help with pitchers. They were honored at the Pheasant run baseball seminar over the weekend in St. Charles. The D-Backs were named 2005 14U team of the year by USSSA Baseball. The awards ceremony included the Illinois State Champs from age 10-15. Each boy was presented with a personalized medal and each team presented with a plaque.
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Sulltiger, you are also correct. The PG reps were a formidable and well financed group! They wanted to build a machine and again apparentlty they were not on the same page with Sam. Our contention is, if Sam were the one picking up the phone and recruiting players the outcome would have been far different. To be honest, we are surprised the PG Reps (kind of like the Notre Dame Alumni organization) didn't buy Sam out, hire some new coaches and carry on the name. KJT
I'm a little disappointed reading a thread with such negativity towards a long-standing top-notch program as Prairie Gravel. As if that wasn't enough, reading about one year's teams that possibly weren't up to the usual Gravel standards and people are questioning Sam Sorce.

Take this from a northsider, when Sam asked my son to join the Gravel 15U two summers ago after seeing him at an indoor showcase in Mokena, the feeling in our home and by my son was that he had been offered to play for Stanford. I don't know anything about this recruiting stuff that I'm reading, but I cannot imagine a quality player turning down a chance to play for such a great teacher of the game. JMO.
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To Travel Ball Select; you make some good points, although so do I. Like I said Sorce had good teams years ago. Last year the PG program thought they could build a contender and they failed big time. That's probably a big reason they're NO more! The one weak CABA tournament they won last year. Who did they beat in that tournament? How did they far against the top elite teams in Illinois last year. What was their record against the Diamondbacks, Seminoles, Bulldogs, and Sparks. Anyways, Sorce's a good coach, let's just leave it at that. The point is there's many very good coaches and much better programs. That's been proven loud and clear especially over the last two seasons. There's a handful of 16u teams that were much better last year as well.
I meant to say how did they fare. Itsrosy, I understand your point. I'm just commenting on the last two years. I meant no disrespect. Though I've talked to a few very angry parents that were on Prairie Gravel last year. It does seem like Sam lost focus, and wasn't really concerned about that team last year, and in effect lost the team. There's alot of good talent and good coaching in Illinois.
Itsrosy im with you on this one. Seems like the people who have negative things to say about Sorce have no idea about the reputation , respect and tradition that the gravel program has built up over the years- something that a lot of these other programs would love to have . Gravel has always been geared toward putting together teams at the older levels, not the younger ones( 14s, 15s, ) . The 15 year old team folded- so what? angry parents- what team doesnt have any angry parents? Because one team within the organization didnt work out, wont stop PG from continuing to put quality baseball teams ( at whatever age group) on the field for years to come.
Beenthere thats something that gravel has done quite often over the years. Something that these negative posters need to realize before shooting off at the mouth . I dont think that any of the other people making comments here about gravel know anything about their history and their track record of producing quality teams . I doubt that any of the other teams that irish mentioned will come close to gravels longevity.
Got...I thought it was the Connie Mack in Farmington.

Turned out it was the NBC...

(taken from the Illinois State archives/website)...

Anetsberger and Bolt played together for Prairie Gravel of the Chicago Suburban Baseball League. Prairie Gravel competed in the National Baseball Congress World Series, winning the tournament in dramatic fashion for their first NBC title. Anetsberger, the tournament MVP, finished the year with a .376 average while leading the team in RBI's (18), slugging percentage (.561) and total bases (37). Bolt, the 2005 Illinois State MVP, hit .231 while tying for the team lead with 19 RBI's. Illinois State recruit Dan Sorce also played for Prairie Gravel, appearing in four games with a 1-0 record and a 2.70 ERA.
Strikes (Scott Nelson Inc,) is emerging as the place to go for the "Best" hitting instructors, all the top players seem to be heading there, traveling as far as Joliet to the Broadview based Academy....Sam Sorce (Miami Hall of Famer) Line Drive is one of the most respected names in the game and don't forget Jack Gallo (drafted by the Yanks back in the day!) from Elmwood Park!
Big following!
Travel ball select;Do you coach? you are a very good baseball man! As for Strikes, you were right as usual,I believe they have had 8 first team All-State player's since since 2002,take lesson's there,and I know there were more before 2002. Bolt and Anetsberger both took lesson's at Strikes, and my brother told me his son hit with a kid who come's in from Hammond Indiana . I think that's farther than Joliet Wink
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I'm the kid from Hammond, IN that goes to Steve Hayward at Strikes -- he is the best, hands down. Well worth the trip! I've been taking hitting lessons for many years and switched to him this off-season. I think that Steve is the best one I've ever gone to -- he's improved my power and I have also had a few laughs while working out there. Wink
Hey, I dont know who this Irish83 person is, and i dont know why your being so negative about the prairie team. i dont know if its just that your upset because you or your son hasnt been getting all the attention they or you need but i think you should stop with the comments that your making, because i know sam sorce personally and if you make comments about him than your pretty much making comments about me to so if you want to keep making comments like that to make yourself feel better than go ahead, but if not, than quit this ****
The "WHO" behind the posts is not the important issue. The integrity of what we are all here for, IS. I suggest that everyone that wants to make issue with the "WHO", do it with PM's to him. We can identify the trolls when they reinvent themselves so our newer members won't get sucked into their black holes. At least that is what I do.
My son Gage has been to Steve Hayward, Marty Patterson and Todd Fine. I think they all are equally great instructors. I personally like to "switch it up" a little because one may find something that another has missed. As far as High School Coaches, I can not say much about here in Illinois as my older son attended Florida High Schools but one of the best I have seen is Rich Hoffman of Westminster Academy Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The guy is fantastic with the kids and one of the most knowledgeable baseball men you will meet. Oh yeah, he also coached some kid named A-Rod in High School. Wink
Traveldad in most instances i would agree with you, but in this case where some of the things that were posted by Irish were mean spirited to go along with some outright lies , i think it wouldnt be a bad idea to reveal the identity. You know who it is. Youve been around him long enough . How can you tolerate it? Why stay quiet instead of speaking out against him if you truly care about this board the way you say you do ? I know a person of your integrity and how you go about teaching your kid goes against everything he stands for. Enough is enough.
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This discourse belongs somewhere else, so I applologize to anyone who is looking for the holy grail of hitting instuctors and comes across this garbage. This will be my last post here in reference to this.
It wasn't too long ago the same thing was being asked of me about your "friend" and sponsor to this site. I considered it because of the verbal assault, name calling, and outright lies that were being sent my way about me. I'm glad, now, that I did not. What little shred of friendship that was left was more valuable to preserve than destroy. And ultimately, I would have gained no satisfaction at the unmasking and the humiliation of another. The real loser would have been me(I still shave in the morning) not to mention that person, his family, his kid, and the TEAM (HELLOOO!)his kid plays for.
Please, if enough is enough for you, deal with it privately.
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Yeah, i just want to know who this irish83 thinks they are, i just want to know the reason they have to say stuff like this and i want to know who it is. At least i have the balls to tell them who this is, I am his son Danny. I tell you this, he knows more about the game than any of the instructors out there. He will not only give you lessons that will make you better, but lessons on how to play the game from different sides, and how to be better than what they are now. Hes nrot there to take your money either, he does it to develop better ball players both on the field and off the field, i hope you can see that from the players hes had and the players to come. So next time you want to make a negative comment think again.