Baseball and softball players can take their game to the next level at a new 17,000 square-foot indoor academy in Essex Junction. Richmond native and 2010 Mount Mansfield Union High School graduate Dan French opened the Strike Zone in September. "We're developing baseball and softball players mechanically, physically and mentally through various programs and various levels," French said. The Strike Zone offers private and semi-private lessons, camps, and clinics, and 10 batting cages — two with pitching machines. A HitTrax baseball analytics system generates in-depth data that allows staffers to identify weaknesses in a hitter's swing and hone their training. The system — used by colleges and professionals, French said — can measure exit velocity (the speed of a ball coming off the bat) and can calculate distance, where the ball would land on the field, and whether it's an out, a single, a double or a triple. A slate of area coaches has signed on as instructors. And South Burlington's Concept Move has installed a satellite gym at the academy for strength, speed and agility training. The Strike Zone welcomes rookies and T-ballers as young as 3. Baseball has always been a passion for French, a pitcher and outfielder for the MMU Cougars and one of the leaders on the pitching staff at Southern Maine Community College, where he holds the record in innings pitched, is second in strikeouts and third in wins. "Baseball's always been something I've been laser-focused on..." he said. "And I'm able to efficiently and effectively communicate with the younger generation how to change their different mechanics and get different results."