As the class-A short-season affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers have prepared rising stars for the big leagues since 1999. The feisty squad has worked their way through some tough seasons in the New York-Penn League, including four appearances in the league finals and a league championship in 2004. Now entering their 16th season, the Scrappers still play their home games at Eastwood Field, which showcases a view of verdant woods and the sasquatches living in peace beyond the outfield wall for crowds of up to 6,300 fans.
Staffed by former collegiate and professional baseball and softball standouts, All-American Baseball Center helps students dominate the diamond with expert instruction and three state-of-the-art practice facilities. At Baseball University, players from age 8 to the college level hone their hitting and fielding skills through a comprehensive curriculum of courses—such as Hitting 101 and 102—comprising four one-hour clinic sessions that players must complete before advancing to the next class. With more than 52,000 square feet in combined space, the center's two indoor locations provide ample space for independent practice sessions with batting cages, practice fields, bullpens, and facilities for weightlifting and speed and agility training. The North Campus features an indoor regulation infield for live-action baseball and softball games, which are also held at Sardis Park, a four-field outdoor complex occasionally visited by the ghosts of legendary cornstalks.
The YMCA Adventure Warrior Race gives kids and adults a chance to prove themselves against ropes courses, mud, water obstacles, and other unexpected mental and physical challenges—all while supporting a good cause. Amid the breathtaking views and tranquil waters of Lake Tris, runners maneuver around trees and carry heavy objects up the sometimes snow-covered Laurel Highlands mountains, climbing up to 1,000 feet as they go. Warriors aged 16 and older make a 4-mile circuit, whereas younger participants run age-appropriate distances of a half mile or a full mile. Trophies and the respect of all the woodland creatures are awarded to the top male and female runners, top male and female teams, and top co-ed team. According to the Daily American, funds raised from the race provide camp scholarships that allow kids to attend residential and day programs at the 263-acre YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
A functional-training studio staffed by experienced CrossFit coaches and former college athletes, Integrated Fitness Training transforms exercisers of all levels into fit, focused athletes. Barbells, gymnastics rings, and rowing machines welcome students to a 3,000-square-foot training floor, where they cultivate the type of strength and coordination they need to meet their fitness goals or slow-dance with a manatee. A variety of group fitness classes matches exercisers with boot camps, scalable CrossFit classes, and cardio-heavy kettlebell workouts. Like a pair of sharpied-on eyebrows, CrossFit workouts increase intensity, incorporating gymnastics-inspired moves such as burpees, muscle-ups, and handstand pushups.
Since 1952, North Park Batting Range has facilitated outdoor baseball training on its open-air range. In each of 10 open-air baseball cages, automated pitching machines fire balls into the strike zone at 30–80 miles per hour. Five open-air softball cages loft pitches at various speeds for batters training for slow-pitch or fast-pitch leagues. On the 18-hole, par 40 miniature golf course, family-owned and operated since 1961, flourishing shrubs, sharp corners, water hazards, hills, and windmills create obstructions for golfers.
In 2001, Washington County faced a dilemma. A new baseball park was under construction just off I-70, but the field had no team to call it home. Rather than let unemployed mascots set up circus tents in the outfield, a group of local business owners purchased the Ohio-based Canton Crocodiles and moved the franchise to Pennsylvania. Months later, the Washington Wild Things inaugurated the new stadium with a dazzling bit of irony, losing their first-ever game against the very team that replaced the Crocodiles in Canton.
Nevertheless, the Wild Things finished the 2002 season in grand fashion, setting a league record for wins and claiming first place in the Frontier League's powerful East Division, and the team went on to make six straight playoff appearances from 2002–2007. Throughout its history, the Wild Things have featured a number of future and former big-leaguers, and its roster regularly includes Pittsburgh natives, who grew up practicing their swings with steel girders.