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Batting cages eyed for Eagle Scout project

| Thursday, June 13, 2013, 3:33 p.m.
Peter Turcik | Tribune-Review News Service
Drew Neiderhiser, 15, a Boy Scout with Troop 375, stands next to the batting cages at Ligonier’s Little League fields. Neiderhiser will rebuild the cages to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Drew Neiderhiser, 15, is a Scout with Troop 375 of Ligonier who is working toward the rank of Eagle Scout. To date he has all of the requirements necessary for the appointment with the exception of the building project.

For the last 16 months Neiderhiser of Ligonier Township has been trying to gain approval and raise funds to rebuild the batting cages in between the two Little League baseball fields by Friendship Park.

The cages fell into disrepair over the years, and Neiderhiser's project will involve overhauling the structure by rotating it 90 degrees and expanding it from a single lane to four 20 feet by 40 feet cages. Neiderhiser said his project would be dedicated to his former baseball coach Kevin Coleman, who passed away several years ago.

“I am hoping that this will help people remember him,” Neiderhiser said. “He taught me to never give up ant there were a lot of moments in this project where I was pulling my hair out saying, ‘this is driving me crazy.' It has been a good lesson and hopefully by this time next year teams will be practicing in and enjoying the batting cages.”

Neiderhiser said he has everything approved for the project by the township and the Ligonier Youth Baseball Association, but still needs to raise the $40,000 quoted by contractors. In spite of this obstacle, and being encouraged to undertake a smaller, easier project, Neiderhiser said he is determined to complete the project before the start of next spring's Little League and softball seasons.

“This is where we pretty much grew up. We've played baseball since we were little kids, and you can see the batting cage has seen better days,” Neiderhiser stated. “It needs this maintenance, because otherwise I don't think we are going to get another summer out of it. I definitely think that the teams will enjoy the fact that all the teams will get to practice, and nobody is tripping over each other to get in there. Nobody will be left out.”

Neiderhiser has applied for grants to help fund the project, which is now under the sponsorship of Westmoreland Community Action, a nonprofit organization. WCA will handle donations, pay bills and document the process for Neiderhiser in accordance with Boy Scouts of America protocol.

“At this point, we are trying to secure the funds to be able to get started,” Neiderhiser's mother Diana said. “By mid-July they are going to have to determine if we have the funding, and hopefully by then we will have heard back from the grants that Drew is submitting.”

Donations for the Drew Neiderhiser's project may be sent by June 22 to Westmoreland Community Action, care of Jeffrey Diehl, 226 South Maple Ave, Greensburg, PA 15601.

Checks should be made payable to Westmoreland Community Action and should indicate that the donation is for the Ligonier Little League batting cages.

Peter Turcik is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.