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West End training complex to open
Diamond Baseball - Simcox Academy brings big-name softball and baseball instructors to Farragut

Farragut’s baseball-loving population has attracted the attention of trainers and businessmen who plan to open an instruction facility in West End Shopping Center.

“We wanted to bring a general baseball and softball awareness to what West Knoxville already is,” said Farragut resident Jeff Senzel.

Senzel plans to open Diamond Baseball – Simcox Academy, an indoor softball and baseball training facility, in early January.

Diamond Baseball — Simcox Academy will feature big-name instructors, including Larry Simcox, former assistant baseball coach at The University of Tennessee. While Simcox was with UT, the baseball team went to College World Series three times.

“We both live in Farragut, our kids grew up in Farragut programs. This area here in West Knoxville is in a baseball boom right now,” Simcox said.

“There are over a thousand kids in Farragut who play youth softball and baseball,” he added.

Senzel and Simcox hope the location of the facility will prove convenient for parents.

“There are things for families to do if they want to drop their son or daughter off. It’s a great location,” Simcox said.

“It’s going to be a first-class facility with great instructors,” he added.

Joining Simcox will be Michael McKenry, former baseball player at Farragut High School and for the Colorado Rockies organization; Jordan Czarniecki, former UT player; Atlee Hammaker, a 13-year MLB veteran; Megan Rhodes and India Chiles, former Lady Vol softball players; Harry Backhurst, UT and Houston Astros player; Brian Hochevar, CAK pitching coach and father of former UT standout pitcher Luke Hochevar; and Lee Guetterman.

“We’ve got a really great staff,” Simcox, director of instruction at the facility, said.

The instructors will provide hitting and pitching lessons, catered to youth ages 7 to 18.

“We’re tailored towards softball and baseball instruction … but it’s not only competitive players. We’ll have machines, and people walking in off the street can use the machines,” Senzel said.

The facility will feature several pitching and hitting tunnels, as well as flip-net areas and batting cages. Individuals should reserve instruction time slots, as should teams wishing to practice, but those wishing to simply use batting cages can walk in.

“That’s first-come, first-serve,” Simcox said.

Importantly, Senzel said, Diamond Baseball — Simcox Academy will have central heating and air.

A lounge with cable, WiFi, a child’s area and an elliptical machine and treadmill will cater to waiting parents and siblings.

“If mom drops off her son some summer morning and wants to get her workout in, she can ride on the elliptical for an hour,” Senzel said.

“It’s so hectic a lot of times when parents have to take their kids to events, training. We didn’t want it to be a burden,” he added.

Senzel, a DOE employee, began dreaming of opening a business such as Diamond Baseball more than four years ago.

“We wanted to put a facility up in Farragut where you didn’t have to travel to find some place to go,” Senzel said.

“We want to be educators, first of all, and we want to make sure that the kids are getting proper training,” he added.

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