Practice makes perfect at Falcons winter camp

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Standing on the bullpen mound at renovated Stengel Field, Justin Rountree looked at the target set by the catcher and swiftly tossed a change-up for a strike.

Rountree repeated the process three more times. Rountree, 14, knew he had made progress, something that he would like to continue when the Little League season begins soon.

"I want to work on my pitching and my all-around game," said Rountree, one of about 75 participants who attended the 16th annual Falcon Baseball Camp. "I threw about 30 pitches and I last pitched about three months ago.

"I could already see my arm strength getting better."

The two-day camp, spearheaded by Crescenta Valley High baseball Coach Phil Torres, began Tuesday and concluded Wednesday. The camp, which featured former Crescenta Valley High stars Bryan Longpre and Dustin Emmons, current Crescenta Valley High coaches Dave Mendoza and Darrin Beer and several minor leaguers, was geared for those ages 7-14 and focused on grasping the fundamentals on fielding, hitting, pitching, defense and agility.

Torres said the participants came from Glendale, La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley.

Ty Langford, 12, made his fifth appearance at the camp Tuesday.

Langford spent nearly 25 minutes refining his sliding and base running techniques during a pair of separate drills around the spacious venue. Langford first worked with his group on sliding into rubber bases in the outfield before working on running drills going from first to second base.

He worked up a sweat and the lower half of his gray uniform was covered with multiple dirt and grass stains.

"It's a chance to come here and be able to work on a lot of different things," Langford said. "For me, it's more about coming here and working on my agility, fielding and hitting.

"You can ask people questions, like where to throw the ball to [from the outfield]."

Torres, who offers a similar camp during the summer, said the winter version provides the campers one last opportunity to prepare for Little League.

"Tryouts are not that far away, so they can come here and work with some of the college and pro players," Torres said. "They can learn some advanced stuff and have it broken down to help them understand different things better.

"You see them hustling from [drill] station to station and they can get something out of each drill. I might see them during the [Little League] season and I'll be able to recognize some of the campers."

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