On Saturday morning, roughly 65 women gathered to learn more about baseball fundamentals from Nationals coaches and front office staff. The third baseball clinic geared toward women since baseball returned to D.C., Nats U was a tremendous success.
The women sipped mimosas and enjoyed a complimentary breakfast in the PNC Diamond Club before splitting up into a beginning group and an advanced group.
The advanced group heard from moderator Rob Dibble, Nationals Director of Minor League Operations Mark Scialabba, Manager Jim Riggleman, Assistant General Manager Bryan Minniti and MASN personality Ray Knight. The panel tackled questions from the ladies about recent plays, injury updates, statistics, Strasburg's schedule, minor league prospects, player development and player evaluation.
At the conclusion of the Q&A, the ladies took the field for instruction while the beginner group got a chance to ask questions to the panel. Nationals Scouting Coordinator Reed Dunn and Kimberly Hollingsworth of Even THE SCORE joined the discussion.
On the field, the ladies visited three stations. The batting cages with Rick Eckstein, the bullpen with Steve McCatty and Jim Lett and finally, fielding with Pat Listach and Jim McLaren.
In the cages, Eckstein broke down the science of hitting for the participants, who then took turns working on their swings. He also did a perfect impersonation of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn at the plate, rivaling anything Batting Stance Guy might do.
In the bullpen, Lett showed the ladies various baseball grips and McCatty worked on mechanics and delivery from the mound. The ladies all threw a handful of pitches with McCatty offering tips and suggestions for improvement.
Lastly, in the outfield grass, Listach and McLaren had the participants play catch and then practice fielding ground balls.
"The response to NATS U was fantastic," said Lara Potter, Nationals VP and Managing Director for Communications and Brand Development. "The ladies came ready to play and were thrilled with their all-access experience at Nationals Park."
Each woman left with a comprehensive baseball primer -- full of rules, regulations, key words and explanations -- as well as goodie bag with promotional items and a Nats U t-shirt. Most importantly, each woman learned a lot about the game, the fundamentals and the hard work it takes to make it in the big leagues. After the clinic, the women put that knowledge to use while watching the Nationals game with their fellow female fans from seats in left field.