ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball.
About five years ago, the Lakewood High School baseball team got some help — a teaching tool — from former Major League Baseball all-star Dante Bichette, whose son Bo Bichette, of the Toronto Blue Jays, played at Lakewood.
“(Dante) would always have a day where he would come work with the guys,” Lakewood head coach Jayce Ganchou told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “He comes, he talks hitting. They sit and listen. Their jaws are dropped.”
Bichette introduced the idea of linear hitting by using a V-shaped bat and Wiffle balls on a string.
“His philosophy was to get off of launch angle and get on the path and on the line of hitting,” Ganchou explained. “The idea was to have that V catch the on the string.”
“Before this, your swing is loopy, droopy, then when you get on this you have to stay level,” Lakewood senior Jonathan Whelan said. “If you’re not level, (the rope) tells you you’re swing is not there.”
Over the years, Ganchou has figured out what works and what doesn’t.
“We took the philosophy and put the art teacher into it,” he said.
Ganchou is also the sculpture teacher at Lakewood. He crafts these bats in his studio, constantly updating and improving the model.
“Using the shop, I got all the toys and all the tools,” he said. “I can’t do anything normal. I go into the art room. Next thing you know I took a regular bat, shaved it down, made a little paddle with a V, brought it out, we tried it.”
Ganchou recently debuted his “String V Bat” model 6.0; a sleekier version, made of maple, more resembling a real baseball bat.
“It’s great that we can have creative ways to get better,” Lakewood catcher Atticus Huffstutler said. “Instead of just going out there to just hit and field, we are using creative ways to better ourselves. That’s when baseball gets fun.”
“He just knows art and baseball. He’s good at both,” Whelan added.
“The cool thing is I get to do what I love. I’m teaching art,” Ganchou said. “Then at the end of the day, I am throwing baseballs and swinging.”