Lessons we learned from the College World Series and the playoffs leading up to the event. That is the subject today, and there were many. We asked our Certified Instructors to list the things they learned that could help you. Share these with your favorite pitcher.
Adrienne Walker-Chery, near Atlanta, had a couple of great points. Adrienne said, “Movement on just one plane doesn’t cut it against these hitters. We witnessed batters hit the best of riseballs over centerfield fence as well as dropballs that almost hit the dirt being lifted over centerfield. Pitches have to have an extra wiggle and pitchers have to be able to change speeds deceptively.”
That brings me to my next point. You cannot be predictable. If the hitter is ahead in the count and you can effectively throw only one pitch in tight situations, they are waiting on it. It is gone.
Back to Adrienne. We both loved seeing the UCLA pitcher shake off pitches in a tough situation until she got what she wanted. The coach trusted her enough to know the pitch that she felt 100% confident throwing and to know that she saw something from the circle that led to her confidence. Coaches, please, know your pitcher and know when to defer to her.
Amy Harper, in Indiana, noticed that pitchers do not have to be around 70 miles per hour to win. The ball must move, and sometimes you have to have an assortment of pitchers to bring that different look. Find your niche and be the best you that you can be.
Kelle Vornhagen of Nebraska saw something huge. COMPOSURE. You have to control the pace, your posture, and instil confidence in those around you, never letting the other team feel they are getting to you.
Julie Emery, in North Carolina, says mistakes cannot stop you from performing. Looking back keeps you from making the play in front of you. You have to bounce back.
Jen Hoar, our friend in the northeast, says the mental game is more important than the physical. I agree absolutely, totally, completely. You will have “off days”. Train the mind to win anyway.
Carolyn Ruwe took a moment to give the umpires some feedback, and I am paraphrasing here. If you are going to call an illegal pitch once, call it every time it happens. It also should not vary by umpire. I might add that umpires should never have a personal strike zone. What other sport allows that? Do field goal kickers get a little wider zone with some football referees?
Briget Ebinger Balla in Ohio, added to the changeup discussion, saying, “Anybody with a super slow change up without movement was just throwing batting practice.”
Natalie Seney, in Oregon, feels this way, “This is the first time in a long time that there was not a Dominant pitcher in the World Series. You have to have a good pitching staff to change up movement and speeds and keep those powerhouse teams from hitting it.”
My other personal observations. Pitch calling is everything. When every game is online for opponents to scout you, you cannot be predictable. The people calling the pitches must have a plan for every single batter, and it must vary three times during the game for each hitter. But, the next point is even more important.
You cannot waste pitches. This year, especially during the Regionals and the Super Regionals, we saw so many pitches miss so badly. Balls were in the dirt, almost outside the other batter’s box, or the catcher had to leap to make the grab. If the pitch caller has a plan and you waste two pitches, that leaves few choices. The batter has you scouted and knows exactly what pitch you have to throw under duress.
And, finally, two inches matters. If it is two inches on the plate or two inches above the knee a potential strikeout can become a home run. It is an unforgiving game.
Sadly I talked to several pitchers with D1 dreams who said they were too busy or they forgot to watch the playoffs. Every single game is a classroom. Do not miss those opportunities