Agawam Couple Opens Baseball, Softball Training Facility
WESTFIELD — Dave and Karen Sweeney of Agawam recently purchased the assets of the former Extra Innings Westfield franchise from Nabil and Julie Hannoush of Westfield. And Nov. 1, they opened their own family-run baseball and softball training facility, Players Edge New England, in the same space at 99 Springfield Road, which they will lease from the Hannoushes.
Like its predecessor, Players Edge New England will offer batting practice and player development to teams and individual baseball and softball players in the region, and the organization will also offer one-on-one coaching, practice space for the Players Edge Expos—a travelling youth baseball team—and group clinics for teams throughout the year.
“We’re as committed to softball as we are to baseball,” Dave Sweeney, c-owner, noted.
The facility is also open to the public daily from noon to 9 p.m., and it is available to businesses and corporations as staff meeting, event and retreat space. Additional hours are available upon request.
Sweeney, a longtime entrepreneur and the owner of viz-bang! productions in Agawam, is excited to partner with his wife, Karen, in a venture that will also include their children, Jake Sweeney, 16, a pitcher and infielder on the Agawam High School varsity baseball team, and Julia, 13, who is active in swimming and music.
“I’m most excited about working together as a family and having something Karen and I can do together, and having it be built around baseball and youth sports is pretty awesome, too,” Dave Sweeney said. “We have an opportunity to have a positive impact on the community at large.”
The Sweeneys were connected to the facility several years ago through their son Jake, who has been taking one-on-one pitching lessons from Carl Hanselman, a former pro baseball player who coached at the former Extra Innings Westfield.
When Sweeney learned the former owner did not intend to continue the franchise, Hanselman connected him to the Hannoushes, and they were open to the Sweeneys’ purchase of the assets.
“The timing has worked out well,” said Dave Sweeney. “I’ve been self-employed for 12 years now, primarily in the communications and video production industries. Periodically, you need to step back and re-evaluate. I was in the process of doing just that when this opportunity presented itself.”
Jake has played on area baseball teams since he began playing baseball in Agawam Little League, and Dave Sweeney has coached Agawam Little League, the Agawam High School varsity Fall League team and in the John L. Sullivan League.
Karen Sweeney brings her financial acumen and experience to the operation. She also has valuable facilities maintenance experience, having worked in that area for Fitness First and CrossFit in Agawam and at Westfield Evangelical Free Church.
Players Edge New England will offer the following services:
- Tunnel rentals, or batting cage rentals, for individual practice and player development;
- One-on-one coaching through the Coaches in Residence Program;
- Practice space for the Players Edge Expos, a youth travelling baseball team that will compete in the NEAAU league this summer;
- Ongoing group clinics for baseball and softball teams in the region;
- Event space for area businesses and corporations;
- Softball and baseball pitching machines for use by the public daily from noon to 9 p.m.; and
- Video- and virtual-based baseball play via a Hit Trax machine.
Dave Sweeney will continue to operate his video production business, viz-bang!, on a part-time basis, and will offer video recording services at Players Edge to high school students who need a video highlighting their skills for college recruiters.