Marana’s newest hardball attraction is now open, in the form a 15,000-square-foot, indoor facility for baseball and softball aficionados.
The Hitting Factory is the brainchild of Noran Ruden, who has long dreamed of opening an indoor facility for players so they can avoid the grueling heat of the summer and cold of the winter.
Ruden, who never played organized baseball growing up in Tucson, became involved in the sport when his daughter played club softball. He soon realized the lack of air-conditioned infrastructure for players and began to save enough money to start one of his own.
Ruden, who is the owner of Central Pest Control, achieved his eight-year dream on July 29, when the facility opened its doors to the community.
The Hitting Factory is located at 7870 N. Leilani Lane in Marana, featuring batting cages that are 70 feet long and 14 feet wide, as well as state of the art training and development equipment.
Ruden said the goal of the facility is to help the next generation of players reach their developmental apex.
“It’s really a developmental facility, where some of the other facilities in town, and nothing against them, but it’s more entertainment for the children,” Ruden said. “And, here, we’re actually about sports development for competitive players. So, we have exercise equipment, including body resistance, medicine balls, jump boxes, yoga balls, power ropes, ladders, ellipticals, treadmills, things along those lines.”
Ruden knows what it takes to achieve success on the diamond, spending much of the past decade coaching club baseball teams in Southern Arizona, including Club 520 and the American Freedom Gold 16 youth team.
Ruden is thrilled to see his longtime dream come to fruition, with a space located in a prime location, near Marana’s Crossroads Park.
“I knew I wanted to be on the northwest side of town because I live up there, and I knew that facilities were going to be tough to come by,” he said. “And it’s always tough to get practice fields because there’s not enough parks for softball and baseball teams. And I found a plot of land that was actually fairly close to the freeway. And I liked it because it was also right next to Crossroads Park. So, from a hitting facility standpoint, if we do camps in the winter, in the summer, we can actually utilize the outdoor fields, as well as the indoor facility.”
Ruden is the first to admit he’s far from a baseball guru, with a background as a basketball and football player. Instead, he leaves much of the hardball acumen to lead instructor Mo Duran, who played college baseball at the University of Arizona, as well as former University of Arizona softball pitcher Gina Snyder, who instructs the facility’s softball players.
“My side is providing the environment so kids can do things,” Ruden said. “So, we have capable staff of giving the instruction. So, I think my role is providing the facility and the opportunity, and their role is instructing the kids.”
It’s that commitment to instruction that caught the attention of Brian Niegocki, whose daughter, Jessica, plays softball at Mountain View High School.
Niegocki praised Ruden and his staff for their attentive teaching, saying the facility is a game-changer for budding baseball and softball players.
“My family and friends have been waiting for this type of facility,” Niegocki said. “My kids love to work out there because it’s not a coin-operated facility that no one pays attention to. The staff are motivated to make sure everyone has a good experience, and everything is in working order.”
Niegocki gave a wholehearted endorsement of Ruden’s work, saying the facility’s unique offerings are virtually unmatched in Southern Arizona.
“I’m personally confident in what goes on there because I know [Ruden] has a vision for enabling Tucson’s youth athletes,” he said. “He knows the potential for sports to shape young people in a positive way. He’s also seen the hunger that colleges across the country have for talent like what we have right here in Tucson.”
The goal for the Hitting Factory is to give the next generation of Arizonans the tools they need to thrive on the diamond. Such on-field success allows athletes to shape their future, by having a better shot at earning scholarships to college, which will improve their futures substantially.
Ruden is confident that the newfound facility will serve the region well in the long-run, giving everyone a shot at a better life.
“I believe that, when young people are engaged, they tend to do better, progressing through their teenage years, and they tend to stay focused on grades,” he said. “And I’m a strong believer that physical activity and sports helps keep them in the right path and are great life lesson that will make them successful adults.”