The game of softball is like a chess match. Pitchers and batters try to outthink each other, on the mound and at the plate. To find out how to gain an advantage and ultimately checkmate your opponent, study the substance of our interview with N.C. State assistant coach Leigh Ann Ellis. For the past five seasons, the Wolfpack have hit and pitched their way to nearly 200 wins, two NCAA appearances and an ACC regular season and tournament championship.
STACK: How can a hitter gain an advantage at the plate?
Leigh Ann Ellis: I think it’s important for a hitter to do some research about the pitcher who’s throwing the game. You can do that either in the early innings or during the pitcher’s warm up.
STACK: After scouting a pitcher, what kind of adjustments can a hitter make to be more successful?
LAE: [You’ll] be able to make an adjustment in your stance in the box and know whether you’re going to have to have quicker hands to turn on the ball or take it to right field. Also, you’ll be able to identify what types of pitches [will be] thrown.
STACK: Can a hitter assess types of pitches by analyzing the ball’s spin?
LAE: You should be able to. It takes a lot of work in training your eyes and training your head to track the ball all the way into the plate. Ideally, you want to pick up the ball right out of the pitcher’s hand to try and identify the spin. The quicker you can identify the spin, the more ready you’ll be to hit the ball solid.
STACK: What types of spins reflects certain pitches?
LAE: A rise ball is going to be spinning almost out of the back of the pitcher’s hand, so it’s going to be spinning away from the hitter. A curveball is going to be spinning almost sideways out of the pitcher’s hand. A drop ball will come from the top of the pitcher’s release and spin bottom over top. For a change-up, you want to look for any change in the pitcher’s delivery, and the ball usually spins top over bottom.