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Play Ball! Baldor Partners with Sports Attack on Innovative Pitching Machine

When Sports Attack first started doing business with Baldor, neither company could predict where they would be today – partnering on a new innovative baseball pitching machine that is the next best thing to a real pitcher.

Sports Attack, a manufacturer of professional sports training equipment located in Reno, NV, opened its doors in 1995. It started by building a machine that could propel a volleyball, giving relief to coaches who were hitting upwards of 600 balls per practice.

“Coaches told us they had a real need for this piece of equipment, so that’s the product we started with,” says Kurt Brenner, one of the company’s founders. “To be honest we really didn’t know if we could actually sell the machines. But after the U.S. volleyball team used it and liked it so much, we sold one to Stanford University and then UCLA–and it’s just mushroomed from there.”

Today Sports Attack is the leading supplier of volleyball equipment around the world and now serves four other sports: football, baseball, softball and tennis.

In the beginning, Sports Attack sourced motors from a remote supplier, but as the company grew, it realized that not only did it need a second motor supplier, it needed a motor manufacturer that would be more involved and be more responsive to its needs.

“We wanted to work with a motor manufacturer that not only had a solid reputation for producing and providing quality products, but one that could also offer us local technical support,” says Brenner. “When Jim Cooke, the sales rep from Baldor’s Hayward, CA, district office called on us, we knew we had found what we were looking for. Over the past five years, whenever we have needed help, we could count on Jim and Baldor application engineers to be there for us – we have always gotten an immediate response.”

But more than quality products and technical support, Brenner says it’s Baldor’s “yes we can” attitude that has solidified the business relationship. “When we needed help with motors that would fit equipment to sell overseas, other suppliers told us they couldn’t help,” says Brenner. “But Baldor stepped up and helped us solve our problems. That’s the attitude we always get from Baldor, and that’s why we use Baldor• Reliance® motors in all of our European machines.”

When Sport Attack began work on its latest design, the eHack Attack electronic baseball pitching machine, it was only natural the company would turn to Baldor for help. Sports Attack, already the leading provider of pitching machines with the Hack Attack, says its new version takes the pitching machine to the next level.

“With traditional machines, even ours, you set the pitch up and the machine repeats that same pitch over and over,” explains Brenner. “But with the eHack Attack, you are able to program in a series of pitches, from a fastball, a right-hand curveball, to a slider, and the machine will automatically make all of those adjustments. It’s more like a real live pitcher.”

However, in order to create this new machine, Sports Attack needed Baldor to design and build a motor that could be slowed down and sped up very quickly in order to make the pitching changes.

“We needed a motor that had more power and included feedback to know where we were speed-wise,” says Brenner. “There were also some design constraints – meaning that the motor couldn’t be too big or it wouldn’t fit in our machine. Baldor solved all the problems by designing a compact brushless servo motor that met all of our requirements.”

Brenner has high hopes for the new eHack Attack, predicting that eventually every major college and professional baseball club will have more than one of these machines. The new machine also allows Sports Attack to get into the commercial side of the business with batting cages at public sports arcades.

Brenner also predicts a great future with Baldor. “This latest collaborative effort between our company, the local Baldor sales representative and Baldor’s applications engineers proves that we have a real partnership,” says Brenner. “As we move forward I’m confident that Baldor will continue to help us grow our business with custom-designed products, making us even more successful.”