Strong winds topple batting cages in Avon, stir up ‘gustnado’

AVON, Ind. – Storms Wednesday led to some major damage in Hendricks County, toppling the batting cages at baseball fields managed by the Avon Junior Athletic Association.

Poles were ripped up from the ground and left in a pile. Nets for the batting cages were strewn about.

The storm came quickly Wednesday night and was gone just as suddenly. Video provided to FOX59 showed strong winds churning up what appeared to be a "gustnado," according to the National Weather Service.

“I got multiple messages from various volunteers and parents that were down here during ballgames that some sort of ‘vortex’ had come through and lifted up and torn down the batting cages,” said Jarod Turner, executive director for the Avon Junior Athletic Association.

People at the ballpark scrambled for shelter as the storms hit.

“My first thought was, ‘Was everyone OK?’” Turner said. “We had a lot young kids playing just 60 feet away from here. Our 5- and 6-year-old league was playing their final game, so we’ll have to have a trophy ceremony for them sometime later because they had to leave early,” he said.

There was also a double-header and another game in the 16-year-old league. Turner said a child and his father were near the batting cage just before it collapsed.

“There was actually a young child inside the batting cage right before it happened. Thankfully, he was able to get out,” Turner said. “The wind gust pushed his father into the parking lot a little bit. He was parked right by the cages as they were doing batting practice. Some of the debris hit the back of his truck. We’re just fortunate that everyone’s fine.”

Turner said they were examining a fence at the facility to see if it was damaged. He also said a rubber mat from the batting cage blew about 45 feet and hit someone’s car.

According to Turner, the AJAA is primarily a volunteer organization responsible for thousands of kids. He described it as the largest athletic department in the county and said the organization leans heavily on parents and volunteer coaches for help.

Turner said the ballpark can’t open in its current state because of all the debris. That’s why he asked volunteers to help with the cleanup Thursday morning.