D-BAT Winter Garden is the new baseball, softball training facility seeking to redefine training in the area

The new baseball and softball training facility offers athletes a safe haven to train and develop their skills with state-of-the-art equipment and expert training staff.

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There’s an old saying in baseball and softball: The two are games of failure, and if you fail seven out of 10 times at the plate, you’re an all-time great. Compared to sports such as football or basketball, the idea of failure is much more of a natural part of the game.

The games require patience, maturity and an ability to endure constant failure. 

That’s why D-BAT Winter Garden co-owner Joey Capparelli and his team are developing players with a different mindset. 

“D-BAT is a safe haven for athletes to come and train,” Capparelli said. “(It is) a place where leagues, team  and parents can feel comfortable sending their kids to because we just want to help them get better.”

Capparelli, a former college baseball player, along with his sister Gina Gonick and brother-in-law Mark Gonick, recently opened D-BAT Winter Garden — a state-of-the-art baseball and softball training facility — in the hopes of redefining the training experience for the area’s athletes. 

“As a family … our goal is to extend the athlete’s baseball or softball career by just one more year,” Capparelli said. “So, if they’re freshmen, let’s get them to their sophomore year, and so on. Baseball and softball are games of failure, so keeping the game alive is our goal. It’s not so much about making it professional — although that’s nice. Our mission is just to answer the question, ‘How do we get the player that we’re training to go up a level the next year?’”

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This is how

It all starts with its versatile training facility that offers 13 batting cages — with four pitching machines capable of throwing baseball, fast pitch, and slow-pitch softball pitches — that are available to rent for both members and walk-ins. 

“D-BAT is a membership-based facility,” Capparelli said. “However, we do accept walk-ins, as well. So, if an athlete has their own trainer and just wants to have a place to come get reps on our machines, they can buy time on our machines. … Or you can buy a monthly membership and get the benefits of using the machines, getting a discount at the pro shop and our camps and clinics.”

The facility offers personalized private lessons from its staff of former college and professional players.

“Our private lessons are really athlete-specific,” Capparelli said. “The way that my instructors do it is, we have a conversation with Mom and Dad or whoever brings in the athlete, to identify what their goals are. From there, we try and set attainable goals for the first month, second month and so on, to establish what we’re striving toward.

“We don’t have a cookie-cutter method,” he said. “We focus on finding a way to hone in on what you’ve already learned, establish what you don’t know and based on our expertise, teach you the game of baseball or softball.  ... If you look at baseball and softball, everybody has a different swing, different body type, different level of skill, so we cater specifically to each athlete.”

Lasting impact

Beyond helping athletes improve, Capparelli and his team view this new venture as a way to positively impact the community.

“We want to provide the community a premium establishment that parents can feel good about sending their kids to or come with their kids and have an enjoyable experience,” Capparelli said. “As a parent, oftentimes when you do lessons, they are in a field in the middle of the summer, or in the rain. We want to provide somewhere where parents can come and enjoy themselves, they can feel safe about bringing their kids here, we provide a luxury feel and state-of-the-art facilities.

“We also just want to have a positive impact in the community,” he said. “Because we’re not associated with any teams or travel organizations, we’re not in it to charge you thousands of dollars in the hopes that your kid might get a chance. We’re in it to help your child attain whatever goal you want them to attain and ultimately enjoy the game of baseball and softball.” 

Erica Flanigan, a mom of two middle school-age boys, is one of D-BAT’s first customers. 

“They enjoy finally having a place where they can just go and do what they love to do, which is play baseball,” she said. 

“Around here, we didn’t have a real facility that they could just go to — rain or shine. Now, every day when they wake up, they’re like ‘Mom, can we go to D-BAT today? What time can we go?’ Finally, they have something that they can just go do and not have to worry about the weather outside or if there’s somebody to play with them. They can just go into a cage and they can just take swings.”

One of the reasons Flanigan is excited about D-BAT is the facility provides them with a productive activity in a safe environment. 

“It is a place they can go, and we don’t necessarily have to worry about what they’re doing,” she said. 

“Knowing that my boys are there gives me a sense of comfort, because I know what he’s doing. … As a parent, it’s comforting to have a place where they want to go and that I feel my kids are safe.”

Sam Albuquerque is the Sports Editor for the Orange Observer. Please contact him with story ideas, results and statistics.

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Twitter: @SamBAlbuquerque

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Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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