Matt Siracusa

Picking Up on the Pitch

August 27, 2010

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The constant battle between batter and pitcher is a beautiful struggle, especially for the player always striving to win. And although the boys of baseball throw a little harder, the girls of fastpitch softball rocket the ball across the plate from only 35 feet away—compared with MLB pitchers, who are more than 60 feet from the plate.

With the ball coming fast and hard, softball batters need to be prepared to swing. One way for them to gain a little confidence in the batter's box is to scout the opposing pitcher. “Hitters need to scout a pitcher during warm-ups and in the early innings to find out what her best and worst pitches are,” says Leigh Ann Ellis, pitching coach for the North Carolina State softball team.

Watch closely to see what her go-to pitch is, and pay attention to the count in the first inning to gauge her tendencies. “If a pitcher is ahead in the count, she’s probably not going to throw her best pitch, because she wants you to chase something out of the strike zone," Ellis says. “If you’re ahead, though, you can usually expect her best pitch, because she needs a strike.”

To help pick up on what the pitcher has in store, Ellis points out key things to watch for:

Types of Pitches

Rise Ball: Will come out of the back of the pitcher’s hand and spin away from you

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Drop Ball: Will come from the top of the pitcher’s release and spin bottom-over-top

Curveball: The pitcher’s arm will cut across her body, and the ball will spin sideways

Changeup: Look for any change in the pitcher’s delivery, and the ball usually spins top-over-bottom

Ellis also offers advice for pitchers looking to disguise their pitches. For more tips, go to everything softball-related on STACK.com.

Photo:  NC State Media Relations

Topics: SOFTBALL
Matt Siracusa

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