Reading and Throwing Pitches with NC State

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From the batter's box, think how much easier it would be to make contact with the ball if you knew exactly what pitch was being hurled at you. From the mound, think how much easier the K would be if you knew exactly what pitch the hitter was expecting.

Since you don't morph into Nostradamus at either position on the diamond, check out these clues from Leigh Ann Ellis, pitching coach for the 2006 ACC Champion North Carolina State softball team. They can put you one step ahead of the pitcher from the box, or of the hitter if you play the one spot.

Identifying Pitches

"Hitters need to scout a pitcher during warm-ups and in the early innings to find out what her best and worst pitches are. 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. If you're ahead, though, you can usually expect her best pitch because she needs a strike."

Tendencies for the:

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

Throwing Pitches

"Pitchers need to look at a batter's history, either in the current game or in a scouting report, to identify what pitches she has trouble hitting. Ideally, if you're ahead in the count, you want to get the hitter to swing at a ball."

Tips on throwing a:

Drop Ball

• Land with weight on foot you're striding with
• Keep shoulders over front foot
• Spin should be bottom-over-top

Rise Ball

• Tilt shoulders toward second base
• Wait longer to release ball from hand
• Release ball from back of hand
• Spin should be top-over-bottom at 45-degree angle


• Cut bottom of pitching circle out and bring arm across body, toward hip
• Release ball with pinky finger leading, and end with index finger pointing toward hip
• Spin should be sideways

Backhand Changeup

• Keep pitching motion as close as possible to other pitches
• Release ball with back of hand facing toward catcher by snapping wrist up
• Spin should be top-over-bottom away from hitter

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