• 45°

Rec facility opens its doors

NATCHEZ — Chris Rayborn is hoping the “Field of Dreams” adage is true — especially since it concerns baseball.

After spending several years in pro baseball and coaching in college, the Natchez native is in the process of building a sports recreational facility, called Advance Sports. When it’s finished, Rayborn hopes athletes from all around will come hang out and practice whichever sport they want to get better in.

“I haven’t been in Natchez since I was 18, and I talked to some people in hopes of opening up something like this,” Rayborn said.

“I started doing individual baseball lessons in December and January, and helped put on the Natchez baseball camp over the Christmas holidays. I was finally able to raise enough to open this place up.”

Rayborn purchased the old Woods Auto building next to Solar Supply, and opened its doors for athletes May 1. He plans to make some additions to the indoor part of the facility, and the focal point will be teaching area youth about baseball.

“We’ve already had a few local teams work out here. We’ll be able to work with pitcher and hitters on their bullpens and batting practice,” Rayborn said.

“We’ll teach them the physical part of the game, as well as the mental part, like knowing what to do in certain situations or what to look for in this count. Baseball is a mental game, and the fundamentals and little things are really important. I think a lot of these kids miss that these days.”

The facility already has two indoor pitching mounds, one 60-foot batting cage and a recreational room, and a lot more equipment is on the way, Rayborn said.

“The whole baseball side will have Astroturf, and we plan to add two 70-foot batting cages and another mound,” Rayborn said.

“We’re also planning to add a basketball goal in the back, and make an entire half court. We’ll also get a soccer net for kids to practice shooting goals, and I plan to get the equipment to do speed, agility and regular football drills.”

With equipment ranging across several different sports, Rayborn said he isn’t focusing exclusively on baseball.

“Baseball, football, basketball, girls softball, soccer… Whatever they want to practice. It can even be a place where you bring your kid up here to work with without me fooling with them,” Rayborn said.

Rayborn plans to get instructors for several different sports to come and host clinics for youth every so often, he said. Getting better at sports is not the only good thing about the facility, however.

“The best thing about this place is that kids can come and be around other good kids,” Rayborn said.

“When school gets out, we’ll open this place from 10 a.m., and we’ll work with kids for as long as they want to work. I’ll stay as late as possible, as long as they want to work.

After playing at Meridian Community College, Rayborn was drafted and signed by the San Diego Padres, and spent three seasons playing minor league baseball. After that, he went back to Meridian to coach for several years.

“I feel like playing with and coaching these athletes, and what all I’ve learned from doing that, I can bring it back to Natchez. Right now, there isn’t really anyone willing to work with kids seven days a week, but we’ll be open all seven days,” he said.

Advance Sports is located at 206 Seargeant S. Prentiss Drive. The cost of using the facility is $10 per day, or $60 a month for a family membership. For more information, Rayborn can be reached at 601-807-5153.

News

Rep. Sam C. Mims, V, Awarded State Legislator of the Year by Rural Health Association

DEVELOPING NEWS

Natchez mayor announces change in Christmas parade plans after COVID-19 numbers spike

News

Bird’s-eye view: Artist with Natchez roots gives creations new perspective

News

Hundreds turnout for Natchez Christmas tree lighting Saturday night

BREAKING NEWS

Natchez-Adams schools to continue virtual learning only through December

News

E-911: Seconds can seem like minutes in emergencies (with audio)

COVID-19

Hospital CEO tests positive for COVID-19 as local cases rise

BREAKING NEWS

Flash flood warning issued for parts of Natchez

News

Hospitals using antibody therapy to help fight virus

News

Stewpot serves 300 Thanksgiving meals thanks to generous donations

News

Trash collection one day behind schedule for Thanksgiving

News

Ferriday man sentenced to life for 2019 slaying of Natchez schoolteacher

Business

Mayor: Silver Street raising and dock plans moving forward

News

Tree lighting event is Saturday in Natchez

News

Former Natchez Alderman David Massey dies at 72

News

Stewpot ready to serve needy on Thanksgiving

News

Saturday high-speed chase began in Louisiana, ended with crash in Natchez

News

No print edition of The Democrat on Friday

News

Natchez school board cancels bid opening for new high school due to COVID-19

News

5 Miss-Lou residents die of COVID-19 over weekend

News

Remains found in Natchez neighborhood

News

The Dart: Natchez resident loves music

News

Coroner: A Natchez woman dies with COVID-19 Sunday

DEVELOPING NEWS

Suspect in high-speed vehicle chase arrested in Natchez