Sponsored by In the Zone Baseball and Softball Academy
In the Zone Baseball & Softball Academy (ITZ) in Morris County, New Jersey has earned a stellar reputation during the past 15 years, offering a comprehensive training and development environment for youth baseball and softball players. Earlier this year, ITZ was named one of the 25 top baseball academies across the country, and there are three reasons why it’s just become better.
The first is that they just expanded. In the zone now operates a 12,000 square foot facility in Flanders, New Jersey. That's more space for more training.
The second is that ITZ is now an affiliate of Perfect Game Baseball Association (PGBA) and will host two PGBA tournaments this fall, with 11U and 14U team registration currently underway. ITZ will be hosting the top squads from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The organization is planning to expand its Perfect Game tournaments in 2018.
The the reason is that three additional college coaches have just been added to its ranks. Matthew Cornacchione, current head baseball coach at Nyack College; Grant Neary, current assistant baseball coach at NJIT; and Sam Fearse, former softball coach at Haverford College have joined its impressive coaching roster. The three will complement current ITZ staff members Jeff Watson, head coach at Bloomfield College, Meagan Madsen, assistant softball coach at Centenary College, and ITZ’s top instructors to provide invaluable knowledge to the athletes.
“The key difference for us is giving players the most connected-to-game experience. We want to bring the highest level [to them],” ITZ President Marcus Ippolito said, explaining that the new coaches will help improve the staff overall.
“It means that as they interact [with the other coaches and instructors], they’re helping put a curriculum together that helps them be better coaches,” he noted. “That’s what it’s all about—it trickles down to the players.”
ITZ’s ultimate goal is helping each player reach their full potential, with pitching, hitting and fielding lessons, along with team instruction, clinics, strength & conditioning, speed & agility and private lessons. It offers instruction all year round on its fields and in its indoor facility, with wall-to-wall professional-grade turf, baseball and softball batting cages with portable pitching machines and portable pitching mounds. They also receive video analysis in hitting, pitching and fielding to further improve their skills.
Players can put their training to good use by joining ITZ’s baseball and softball travel teams, with squads that train and play in tournaments and games throughout the year with an engaging and motivating atmosphere. Registration is now underway for this year on its website.
ITZ’s training and expert coaching obviously has had a positive effect: Hundreds of former attendees have played or are currently playing on the collegiate level. ITZ baseball alumni have played for County College of Morris, TCNJ, NJIT, Ithaca, Haverford, Miami University, Fairfield, Boston University, Fairleigh Dickinson, Emerson, William Paterson and many more. ITZ softball alumni have played for Rutgers, Seton Hall, TCNJ, Boston, Marist, Lafayette, Fairfield, Brown and many more.
“We assume everyone who comes here wants to play college ball,” Ippolito said. He maintains that younger players who attend can develop a solid foundation and elevate their game for the future.
“We believe that each player has the potential to find their strength,” Ippolito stated. “If they’re committed and believe inthe process, they can get there.”
Thanks to ITZ, athletes preparing for college can be provided a link to the NCAA-approved Student-Athlete Showcase (SAS) for baseball and softball, a college-recruiting management group that helps qualified student-athletes and families steer through the recruiting process. ITZ is the exclusive New Jersey partner with SAS.
ITZ’s president finds satisfaction at all stages of baseball, though.
“It’s the little moments; one new player had a challenging season at the plate,” Ippolito recalled. “So he received some spot lessons—and went 4-4 with an HR at an all-star game.”
The instruction meant clearly went a long way for the athlete.
“He sent a text message with him holding a sign saying, ‘Thanks, Coach Taylor,’” Ippolito continued. “He’ll probably remember that all of his life. That’s the kind of stuff that makes it worthwhile every day.”
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