Hunter Courson was 8 years old when he began cultivating his baseball skills by training regularly at the original D-BAT location in Dallas. He eventually went on to play college baseball at Sam Houston State University and St. Edward’s University in Austin before signing as a free agent for the Cleburne Railroaders.
Today, Courson, now 24, has returned to where it all began as the general manager of D-BAT The Woodlands.
“I loved playing, but I realized I loved coaching more,” Courson said. “Running or owning my own location of D-BAT was something I always wanted to do once I retired from playing because this is where I grew up. It’s really cool to be back here teaching lessons to the next generation of players.”
Owned by Alan Shelby, D-BAT The Woodlands is a locally owned baseball and softball training facility franchise that celebrated its grand opening in Oak Ridge North on July 14. Courson said the opening of D-BAT The Woodlands filled a much-needed void in the local baseball and softball communities, with the closing of Legends Sports Complex following Hurricane Harvey in October 2017.
“There are a ton of baseball and softball organizations in The Woodlands, Spring, Oak Ridge North and Conroe,” Courson said. “It’s a huge baseball and softball area, but there aren’t a lot of training facilities—especially after Hurricane Harvey forced some training facilities to shut down. So [Shelby] saw a need here and thought this would be the perfect place.”
The facility features 11 batting cages, four of which have pitching machines with four different speeds and two of which feature bullpens, Courson said. D-BAT The Woodlands also has a hitting simulator that allows athletes to play virtually at any Major League Baseball stadium in the world.
D-BAT The Woodlands offers platinum and gold memberships on a monthly basis, which offer perks for those who regularly train at the facility, however, Courson said customers do not have to be members to play. Nonmembers can purchase credits to play, each worth 13-15 balls. Credits can be purchased individually for $2 each, five credits for $10 or 15 credits for $20.
“It’s a great place to come, even if you’re not a softball or baseball player,” Courson said. “It’s something different. You can come up here with your family and hit off of a pitching machine, even if you’ve never played before. We offer something for everybody.”
With six baseball instructors and one softball instructor on staff, Courson said D-BAT The Woodlands hosts more than 50 clinics and camps throughout the year, which typically fall on holidays and school breaks. Courson said D-BAT is also an ideal space for baseball and softball teams when the weather interferes with practice.
While Courson said camps are geared toward athletes ages 6-13, there is no age limit to athletes who want to hone their skills.
“We have members who are 4 to 5 years old, and then we have members who are 45 years old,” he said. “The way we say it is, ‘If you can swing a bat and catch a ball, and you want to work to better your game, we want to help you.’”
Courson said D-BAT also features a pro shop that sells equipment—from bats and gloves to catcher’s gear and balls in well-known brands such as Louisville, Rawlings and Wilson.
“We offer pretty much anything you need, and if we don’t have it, we know the people who do; and we can order those items for you,” he said.
Courson said D-BAT served as a second home for him, and he is looking forward to watching the next generation of players grow up while helping them reach their dreams.
“D-BAT is somewhere you can come to work on your craft, get better and help yourself reach your goal,” Courson said. “My goal was to get to college and play professional baseball. D-BAT did that for me.”
D-BAT The Woodlands offers more than 50 camps and clinics throughout the year for athletes ages 6-13, typically falling on holidays and school breaks.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day camp
Jan. 21 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
$75 per nonmember, $52.50-$60 per member
President’s Day camp
Feb. 18 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
$75 per nonmember, $52.50-$60 per member
Spring break camp
March 11-15 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
$75 (one day), $140 (two days), $200 (three days),
$255 (four days), $300 (five days),
members receive 20-30 percent discount
27309 Spectrum Way, Oak Ridge North
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 1-6 p.m.