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Local teen learning game from the pros

By Doug Gorman

Henry County resident Woody Bass is only 13 years old, but he's already been recognized for his ability on the baseball diamond.

Bass recently tried out for and made it with the Hardball Warehouse, a year-round developmental squad based in Gwinnett County, which is coached by several former professional athletes.

Greg McMichael (Braves), Bobby Holly (Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals and Montreal Expos), Pete Smith, Matt Williams (Milwaukee Brewers), Mark Lemke, and Terry Pendleton (Braves) have all volunteered their time to help this young players get better.

The Hardball Warehouse has a 30,000 square football indoor training facility so players can work on their game year round.

Bass, who has been playing baseball since he was 3, received an invitation via e-mail to tryout for the team.

Once there, he found himself going through an extensive tryout.

"We had to run, test our bat speed and show what we could do at every position," said Bass, who attends New Creation School in McDonough.

Bass, who prefers playing second base, has also had a chance to pitch some this season for his new team.

The young right-hander was on the mound a week ago when his team captured a weekend tournament in Peachtree City.

Bass is enjoying the experience.

"I have really worked on and improved my fundamentals," he said.

Working with the former major league players has also helped Bass improve.

All but Pendleton, who serves as the Braves hitting instructor, and Lemeke, who has other business commitments, make every practice.

Bass has some clear-cut goals for the future.

"I want to go all the way," said Bass. But Bass' life isn't just about baseball. Although he would love to have a career in professional baseball, he wants to use the game as a minister, to help spread the word of Jesus Christ.