The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Pullman Batting Cage a hit right off the bat

Family-owned business opened in August, only indoor cage in Pullman area
Pullman Batting Cage is open to all ages, welcoming all those who want to sharpen their skills on indoor turf, Oct. 10, in Pullman, Wash.

Baseball players in and around Pullman looking to get better at hitting balls in winter and into spring used to have to choose between braving the elements at a baseball field or driving all the way to Spokane to find an indoor batting cage.

In August, baseball enthusiasts Crystal and Tyler Helenske opened the Batting Cage, the only indoor batting cage facility in the Pullman area. Thanks to the Helenskes, anyone who wants to swing a bat and hit a ball will have a place to practice year-round.

The couple has three children, two of whom play baseball. When they realized that there was no indoor batting cage in the Pullman, Moscow, or Lewiston area, they decided to build their own.

“It just seemed like fun to be honest,” Crystal said.

The Batting Cage is located on Grand Avenue in the building that used to be Higginson’s Home Center. When the building became available in the spring, the Helenskes decided to act on their long-time dream of owning their own business.

In April, they began to renovate the building, removing the nine types of flooring that remained from the building’s days as a furniture store and smoothing out the concrete beneath.

Tyler’s dad visited Pullman from the Seattle area on several occasions to help him work on the building. The pair spent countless hours from April to August preparing for an Aug. 12 opening, all while Tyler worked a day job. They installed the pitching machines, hung the netting and installed the signage.

After spending countless hours working on the business, Tyler is not afraid to admit that hearing people compliment his work puts a smile on his face.

“Every time someone walks in and says that it looks really good in here, they really like it, whatever, it was mainly me and my dad that built a lot of it,” Tyler said.

While Tyler and his dad focused on getting the building ready to go, Crystal focused on the branding of the business. She designed the Batting Cage’s logo and found an artist who was willing to draw a mural of a baseball player on the warehouse on the property, Tyler said.

Bats and benches line the wall of Pullman Batting Cage, Oct. 10, in Pullman, Wash.

The Batting Cage includes four cages and a pitcher’s bullpen.

The Batting Cage hosted their first hitting camp on Sept. 30 with Dakota Hawkins, former WSU baseball pitcher and current member of the New York Mets organization, in attendance.

The Helenskes said they hope the batting cage can be used by the various baseball teams on the Palouse, including high school, club and summer league teams. As the only indoor turf facility in the area, they have also been contacted by a local indoor soccer organization asking to use their facility for practices.

The Helenskes also hired coaches to provide private lessons on hitting and pitching.

AC Plum is a WSU transfer student and sociology major who works as the Batting Cage’s pitching coach and operates the batting cage each day after his classes.

Plum played Division-I baseball at Rice University before transferring to WSU. The chance to work at the Batting Cage keeps him connected to baseball and provides an opportunity for him to coach the game he loves, he said.

“I think encouraging people to try something new and try baseball specifically has been so rewarding for me. I’ve absolutely loved that part,” Plum said.

In addition to the daily tasks of making adjustments to each pitching machine and giving private pitching lessons, Plum also has the opportunity to help people realize that they can play baseball.

Plum fondly recalls helping a child gain confidence in his swing. He set up a tee for him to use, and when the child was ready, he cheered him on as he confidently swung at balls from the machine.

“Being able to help someone do something that they were originally scared to do and find success and find fun in it is incredibly rewarding. It’s one of the reasons I love not only working here but coaching as a whole,” Plum said.

Plum said he was a frequent user of an indoor batting cage when he played club and high school baseball in Southern California.

While there is a regular crowd of experienced players getting their work in, the Batting Cage has emerged as a family-friendly recreation option.

“I see more people who have never touched a bat before coming in here to hit than I have seen a lot more experienced people, and that’s awesome. You know, the fact that this is just an opportunity people are excited about,” Plum said.

Plum said he appreciates working for a family like the Helenskes and is inspired by their commitment to running a family-owned business.

“I really enjoy coming in to see that every day and how hard they’re working to make this place as special as it can be,” he said.

Crystal and Tyler said they hope to serve more local teams. They also plan to create an event corner that could be used for birthday parties and other gatherings.

Plum said the Batting Cage values creating an inclusive environment for the baseball community and anyone who wants to swing a bat.

“They don’t want anyone to come in here and feel intimidated, like they can’t hit or they can’t do this or they can’t just use the space,” Plum said. “They definitely want to create an environment that’s all-inclusive. And I think they’ve done a great job of that so far.”

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About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.

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  • Tammy BlankOct 12, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    I was there this Summer helping out my Daughter and Son n Law with the batting cage and helping with my grandkids and packing they were moving in a new home at the same time . I’m so excited for them to start this New chapter of there lives. Love ya all Mom Tammy Blank