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The day before Easter, and I would be happy to have ANY girls show up to practice, so I was THRILLED to have 4 players show up. We had our catcher, our SS/3B/OF/C, our 1B/2B and one of our OF there.

We started practice where we left off, with outfield drills and catcher drills. Our catcher (my daughter) is MUCH improved on blocking the ball. After about 75 balls in the dirt, we progressed to throwing to the pitcher covering home after a wild pitch.

My daughter is a VERY aggressive catcher, and her first instinct is to try to tag the runner trying to score on a wild pitch instead of throwing to the pitcher. Sometimes this works (our backstops are only about 20 feet behind the plate) and sometimes it doesn't. I've decided that I want her throwing to the pitcher at all times, because 1) it takes a decision on whether to tag the runner away which can cause hesitation, and 2) regulation ASA backstops are at least 25 feet from home plate so making her throw to the pitcher will definitely be the right call if she catches in All-Stars.

After about an hour of catcher drills, I moved her out to the outfield for drills there (her likely position in All-Stars given her speed, her arm, and that she reads the ball pretty well off the bat) and worked with our emergency catcher on catcher drills.

Then we worked on pick-off plays to third base. Our last game we tried one to try and bail out our emergency pitcher, but it blew up in our face because we'd never worked on it. We'll have to review it again when the entire team is there (or at least my regular 3B and SS), but we got a good start on it.

After the game, we went to our regular fields to take a look at the work going on. We're getting new dugouts and new backstops -- exciting times!

Happy Easter to everyone!


Don McKay, Softball Editor
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Rain today, so no practice. Next practice is Wednesday.


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Had 7 girls show up for practice on Wednesday, which was way cool!

Coach Ray worked with the outfielders, doing essentially the same drill we've done with the outfielders since Thursday. One or two girls will hit to the other outfielders, who work on fielding and strong, accurate throws to the cut off.

Coach David worked with our catcher and our three girls who play third base (one at a time, another as a runner and the third working with the outfield) on pick off plays at third. They started off really rough, with balls flying all over the place except in other players' gloves, but by the end of practice they were starting to look pretty sharp. I think this will be a play that we call for if we have a 3 or 4 run lead and the runner on third is taking an aggressive lead. That is, until we get just a little sharper on the play.

I worked with our pitcher all practice long on developing a flip change. We started with her standing about 5 feet from a bucket and releasing the ball into it. Once she could make into the bucket 10 times in a row (it took about 40 minutes for her to do it), we backed her up to about 20 feet and had her make a full windmill rotation and flip change to me sitting on a bucket with my glove between my knees. Once she was able to hit my glove 10 times in a row, we then backed up to full pitching distance.

Then she started firing fastballs and 2-seamers to me, and she looked as sharp as she has all season. A week ago, her arm was too sore to get her out of the first inning. Now, she had real zip in her pitches. After about 5 or 10 minutes of her pitching lasers as fastballs, I let her try a change up. Strike! 5 or 6 more fastballs, then a changeup -- ball in the dirt, but good enough to get a batter to swing at.

In short -- she is very close to having a killer change up. I think one or two more practices, and she will get it. I can't wait!

We finished with base running relays. I keep having to remind some players to drop their shoulders and keep their arms pumping as the turn the corner at the bases.

The girls were in good spirits at the end of practice. They should be proud -- they worked their butts off!


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Today we had 5 girls plus one from another team. I was surprised to learn that we are the only 12U team to be practicing during Spring Break. I think this is a major mistake for other coaches. True, we only have a about half the team at each practice, but we've been able to focus on each girl individually to very specifically improve flaws and make big improvements over all.

I always have open practices for anybody who shows up, even if they are the starting catcher for the 2nd place team and our rivals this season :-) She hit pretty well, particularly for someone who'd been off a week.

Speaking of hitting, today was the first day we reintroduced batting stations into practice. Counting today, we've got 3 more practices before our next game, so it's time to get the bats going again. Most of our girls looked a little rusty, but not bad. Our hottest hitter going into Spring Break picked up where she left off, hitting the ball hard several times off the machine.

Then I worked with our pitcher and her flip change while the rest of the girls did outfield drills. She had been at the Wild Animal Park all day long and had a sun burn, so she wasn't as sharp as yesterday. We worked for about 45 minutes and then I let her finish with the outfielders while I took two infielders and hit grounders to them.

Another good practice. I think all this hard work will definitely pay off when we start the season back up again.


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Saturday, we only had 2 players show up for practice. I wasn't surprised, as most everyone told me that they were going to be out of town this last weekend of Spring Break. Fortunately, the two players who did show up were my pitcher and my catcher, so we were still able to get some good work done.

We worked on blocking the ball (again). My catcher has made HUGE progress this week regarding blocking the ball, but it still isn't a natural response for her. She blocks well if she is thinking about it, or if she's in the middle of a blocking drill, but sometimes when normally catching she'll still flinch and pull away when there is a ball in the dirt. She just needs to think instead of reacting until she's so comfortable with blocking balls in the dirt that she can react right.

We also worked on covering home on a passed ball with the pitcher. Both girls immediately figured it out and were looking good on the drill, so we only did it for about 5 minutes.

Our pitcher is getting more and more comfortable with the flip change, but isn't quite ready for prime-time yet. Maybe one or two more practices and she'll be good to go.

Then we set up the batting machines and let the girls hit away. Both looked great. My catcher fixed a timing issue and suddenly was crushing the ball to the outfield, and we fixed a small flaw in our pitcher's stance to get more waist power into her swings. Right now, she tends to hit for power using mostly her arms, so if she can get her hips going, she'll be even more dangerous as a hitter.

All-in-all, about the most productive 2-person practice you could possibly have. My catcher did jam her thumb catching and so we had to quit early (she didn't hit off the machine at the end of practice), but she was fine by the next morning.

Last edited by Don -- Softball; 04/12/10 09:58 AM.

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Grumble grumble grumble...Stupid rain!! No practice last night because of rain is Southern California.

We've got a game tonight and both teams will no doubt be rusty. Wish us luck!


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A GREAT game tonight! Particularly since we just came off Spring Break and we have two players out because of 6th grade camp, including our primary first baseman.

Our pitcher looked SHARP! Really sharp. All the work we put in over Spring Break paid off, and I think she's picked up some velocity. I was warming her up between innings and she was actually hurting this old catcher's hand. She also unveiled her new change up. She only threw it a couple of times and didn't get any strikes, but I was pleased to see it. I think she's really close to throwing it for strikes. Each time she threw it, it bounced a little low.

Her line: 5 IP, 1 Walk, 3 K's, 3 singles, 2 Runs (1 earned), 52 pitches, 36 strikes

Our catcher had a fantastic game. All the hard work she did over Spring Break on blocking the ball really paid off as well. And with a drop-ball pitcher, she had plenty of chances to block the ball. No runners scored on a passed ball or wild pitch. She was a great catcher, but now she's taken her game to the next level and it is a joy to see.

Our offense was good: 10 runs, 6 hits (1 triple), 7 walks. We did have about the worst base running play ever. Runners on 2nd and 3rd, soft line drive to the pitcher, and I'm yelling at the top of my lungs in my loudest Navy voice, "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK", yet both my runners were off to the races. I'd never actually seen a triple play in person until tonight. Oi...

Other than that, I was really pleased with every aspect of our play. Our defense looked great, 2 errors with 12 put outs. And one of those errors was a tough one -- my right fielder lunged for a fly ball and the ball popped in and out of her glove.


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Batting cages last night.

I actually only periodically checked on the team, as I was scorekeeping for the 14U scrimmage (my older daughter is on one of the teams). We only had 7 girls there, so we cruised through the stations pretty quickly and were done in an hour.

David and Ray were working the machines, and both said the girls looked good. We had one machine at 51 and the other at 42 (about the speed of the pitcher we're going to face Saturday), and it took a while for some of the girls to adjust to the slower speed. I told the girls after practice that the trick is to generate the bat speed needed to hit a 51 mph pitch, but also waiting for that 42 mph pitch to come into their hitting zones to do so. Definitely tougher than it sounds.

The team we're playing on Saturday is the hottest team in the league right now, and it was the one that thumped us 17-6 (and tied us in our short-handed game). They also beat the 2nd place team last night, giving us some breathing room in the standings, but also showing that they are definitely playing well. Should be a good game on Saturday!


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I was only at practice long enough for batting stations, as my older daughter's last regular season basketball game was last night, and my daughter and I had to bail practice to go to my older daughter's game.

We ended up with 9 players, and they looked good at batting stations. I had the batting machine set to 42 mph, and the players all showed good patience waiting for the ball and then hitting it hard. I think the drill we did in the cages yesterday (one machine at 51 mph and the other at 42 mph) was a great drill to help them adjust to slower pitching, and it showed yesterday.

Then I had to leave, and I left Coach Ray in charge. I think they played the bunting game and worked on Outfield/infield situational defense after I left.


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What a tough, see-saw battle we had with the Deadly Dinosaurs -- easily the most improved team in the division this season. I knew we'd be in for a fight going in, as they had won 4 of their last 5, including beating us badly the last time we played them.

We were visitors, and we scored 2 in the top of the first, but they answered with 2 of their own in the bottom of the first. Then they scored 1 in the bottom of the second to take a 2-3 lead. Then we scored 1 and they scored 1 in the third to move the score to 3-4.

When our team came off the field at the top of the fourth, I told them that we couldn't just trade runs with them or we'd lose. We chanted "BIG INNING" and got our hitting shoes on. The meat of our order (4, 5, and 6th batters) was up, and they didn't disappoint. Our pitcher drew a walk, then our catcher crushed a triple to the right-center fence, tying the score. Our slap hitter then hit a perfect hit right up the line, driving in our catcher. Then...

The smallest girl on our team got a base hit our first game of the season, but none since. However, she walks a lot, so I had moved her up to 7th in the order. She picked a great time to get her second hit of the season, hitting a solid line drive to center, knocking in my slapper who had stole 2nd base the pitch before. But the promising inning ended with another base-running gaffe, with a girl running on a pop-fly. But we scored 3, making it 6-4.

We needed a defensive stop to take control of the game, and we got it. We got the first two outs in the bottom of the 4th on two pitches: a grounder to the pitcher, and a soft line-drive to the pitcher. She closed the inning with a strikeout to the third batter. Our pitcher stepped up HUGE.

Then, the wheels came off for the Dinosaurs a bit. It was the hottest, most humid day of the year so far, and their pitcher was gassed, so they put in their 2nd pitcher, and we scored 7 runs on her before they brought their starter back in to get the last out.

But, the game wasn't over, and my pitcher was definitely tired as well. The second pitch of the inning was caught by our center fielder (our smallest player) with a great running catch. I'd been saying for weeks that I was waiting for our outfield to make a great play, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Then we struggled through 6 runs before we recorded the last out, and ended up winning 13-10.

I said at the first practice of the season that there were 3 areas that we needed to do better than other teams to have a successful season:

1) Good outfield play
2) Production from the bottom of the order
3) Better bunt offense and defense

This game was a perfect example of this, because it was close until we scored big and then they scored big. Because we did the little things better, we ended up winning:

We got a big outfield play, but our outfield played well all game long, including backing up every play.

The bottom of our order is really starting to heat up. 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks and only 2 strikeouts.

And most importantly today, the Dinosaurs insisted on playing their 3rd baseman back, and so we just kept bunting up the third base line. We got 4 hits and a sacrifice from our bunting, and given that 3 of those base runners ended up scoring, it made all the difference in the game.

This week, I actually have to go out of town on bsiness Wednesday and Thursday, and we have a game on Wednesday. They are calling for rain, so pray for rain so that I don't have to miss the game.


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