Thursday, April 29, 2010

Softball 2010

The 2010 LGSL slow pitch softball season is almost underway. The first team practice is at 6pm this Thursday at Electronics Park in Liverpool.

A little background about the league: This is the second season I’ve coached in the league, with my dad assuming head coaching duties. My youngest sister, Stephanie plays on the team. The division is slow pitch, ages 15 to 19, although junior (12 to 15) players do play as needed (they can be called up to fill roster spots).

I would say last year we were probably the odds on favorite to finish in last place. We were the newest team, and as such featured many of the cast-offs and newer players that the other teams did not want. Those are the kinds of players I want though, it’s much better motivation to try and prove someone wrong about you than to have to maintain a certain level to prove them right. We had at least three girls that had never played softball in any capacity until that year. I have to commend those girls, speaking from experience having just started hockey myself, it is difficult to throw yourself into a sport many have grown up with and possess instincts you simply do not have.

There was a learning curve for sure. One girl, Hao Nhi, came onto the team almost completely unable to throw a ball more than twenty feet or in the direction she desired. By the end of the season she had evolved into a dependable right fielder and second baseman and emergency pitcher.

(A little aside here: I know there are certain positions that are the typical places teams will try to “hide” a player. I do not believe this is the case, especially in a slow pitch league where suspect defense cannot be covered by dominant pitching. There is no dominant pitching. If a player is getting the majority of innings at a given position, it is because I believe that player is best suited towards the position.)

Speaking of dominant pitching, our pitcher, a younger girl Chelsea, was about as close as you can get. Taking around 70% of the innings, she did an excellent job of mixing things up while still throwing a high percentage of strikes. One of the things I generally despise about softball pitchers is that they are oftentimes completely unwilling to cover their responsibilities as a fielder. This is not the case with Chelsea as she was more willing than everyone to try and knock down ground balls and get easy outs. When late in the year, we played the (then) undefeated first place team to a 7-6 loss, it was due in large part to Chelsea’s efforts.

All in all the team did well and definitely improved over the course of the season, the afore mentioned tight game showing proof. We finished in third to last place winning 4-5 games in the process with every player contributing and confident both in the field and at the plate by the end of the year. With many returning players, I hope we can continue to build on that success and make our way into the middle of the pack.

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