Hey Batter Swing

Athena’s playing softball again this year; here she is up at bat and letting this particular ball get past her. In previous years, the coaches pitched to the girls; this year the girls pitch, which means lots and lots and lots and lots of walks. Well, I suppose they do have to learn. And it’s early in the season yet. Hopefully by the end they’ll get the hang of the pitching (and the catching. And the throwing. And the hitting — although some of them do just fine in that department). You may also notice Krissy in this picture, watching her little girl swing.

27 Comments on “Hey Batter Swing”

  1. Is it just me, or is that helmet a little overkill? It’s certainly way more helmet than I ever remember wearing playing baseball…

  2. What fun! I had similar activities this weekend. It was the last game of the ‘under 6’ soccer league. My son’s coach couldn’t make the game so the assistant coach asked me a few weeks ago if I could help out, then she failed to show up for the game, so I got to coach a bunch of 4-6 year olds for a game of soccer.

    Entertaining to say the least, but I because I was coaching, I didn’t get to test my new camera, my first ‘real’ camera, a Nikon D40x.

  3. Randomscrub:

    Since at least two of the girls were pegged in the head by softball pitches during the game, no.

  4. I remember when I was her age and playing softball. I was the catcher for my team. Some nasty girl twice my size on an opposing team flung her bat straight into my arm when she managed to hit the ball…still have the faint imprint near my elbow. That game was also marked by another nasty girl twice my size needing first base so badly she bodyslammed and ran over the first baseman, who was out for two innings after, lying on the bench and sobbing. (I seriously hated that stupid team and wanted to slash their tires.) I also managed to get a softball pitched straight to the throat. Yeah, the one completely unprotected place on a catcher, and I had to get hit there.

    Of course, even when I was seven and playing softball, the coaches never pitched, except during batting practice. And we didn’t wear football helmets, either. Maybe we were just less fragile fifteen-twenty years ago? Or less medicated and therefore more likely to dodge the ball flung by that crazy girl we can’t believe they let pitch?

    I wonder…

  5. I used to umpire kids’ baseball. Anywhere from 7-18 years old. The coaches pitched in the very young leagues and then the players started pitching around 10. That was for softball. In hardball, the younger leagues actually used a pitching machine.

    That umpire seems to be wearing all the gear. Mask, chest protector, shin pads, and probably a cup. I onced umpired a double-header for one of the hardball leagues. The pitchers were terrible and the catcher kept missing the ball so I was hit about 20 times per game. I was wearing only the face mask.

    That catcher should get off her knees so she can actually chase the ball.

  6. Just a note for any parents out there: don’t criticize the umpire’s calls. The one in the field almost always has a better angle and a closer view than you do for calls in the infield. The only one with a better view of the strike zone than the plate ump is the catcher, and the catcher has just a wee bit of bias.

  7. Imagine, if you will, the same scenario, but with a whole team of mostly deaf players. We did that for a couple of years with our older daughter (who happens to be Deaf) and our younger son (who happens to be hearing).

    Getting the team focused was an amazing and rare event! It was fun, though, and everyone had a good time.

  8. Never could understand this sport of baseball and neither cricket that the Brits adore…

    …but swinging away at something with a big stick is somewhat…appealing.

  9. It’s nice to see parents at an organized sporting event that aren’t gesticulating wildly and foaming at the mouth.

  10. Facemasks on helmets are becoming a lot more prevalent, and some leagues require them especially in the younger divisions. While the facemask might seem like a bit of overkill in a 9-10 year old softball league seeing as how the pitch isn’t going to be coming in all that fast, it’s also true that many of the kids haven’t yet learned the appropriate response to a pitch heading straight at their face. And if the batter freezes as the pitch is heading at their face, even a softball pitch from a nine-year-old can give a bloody or even broken nose.

    Just as important, mandating facemasks (especially at the younger age) can help kids overcome their fear of getting hit by the ball. It’s sad to see a 12-year-old at the plate who is flinching away from every pitch because he or she’s never managed to overcome that fear.

    Agree with Jardine, though, that someone needs to teach the opposing catcher proper technique. I can almost accept the palm-up mitt if it’s slow-pitch softball (although you should really start palm forward, because it’s easier to drop to palm-up then it is to raise your mitt to catch a higher pitch), but she needs to get used to being in a crouch. And the right hand has to go somewhere other than her lap – I’m not a total “free hand behind the back” martinet like some coaches, but resting in your lap is the worst place for your free hand.

    Oh, and tell Athena to keep her weight back and drive off her back foot. It looks like she’s lunging at the ball.

  11. That brings back memories. My daughter started out playing 10u ball. They do learn to throw and catch but the pitching mechanics aren’t trivial and they take a lot of work to master so walks are very common in the youngest age groups. My daughter really took to the game and started practicing year round. Pretty soon rec ball wasn’t challenging enough and she started playing select ball. Now she has more weekends with fastpitch tournaments then she has off. So take this as a warning.

    She’s now 16 and just this weekend her high school team earned a spot in the state championship tournament. We’re all very excited after a couple days of fabulous ball at the district tournament where they earned their berth.

    The helmets may seem big for those little girls, but they grow quickly and start to throw really hard. We’re seeing pitchers throwing over 60 mph. Some of the top collegate pitchers are throwing over 70 mph. With the ball coming at speeds like that from 40 (or 43, depending on the league and age group) feet I’m really glad they wear batting helmets with full face masks and they need to start from the very beginning.

  12. Brian C @15:

    Over 70? Some of those college girls are more like 90, with crazy movement. Having the plate only 2/3 of the distance from the mound (compared to baseball) means college softball hitters basically have to start their swing before the pitcher releases the ball. When the best pitchers are on their game they are unhittable except by chance. Don’t sell the wimmen short. Pro baseball players couldn’t hit some of those pitchers.

  13. D.Paul @#13: “It’s nice to see parents at an organized sporting event that aren’t gesticulating wildly and foaming at the mouth.

    That’s only because John is behind the camera.

  14. Blind kid’s leagues play with beeping balls and bells on the basepersons. And usually (especially in the younger teams) bat off a T, but with a regular softball. So, not too much getting smacked by balls, but some getting mowed by runners. It is a quicker paced game than you might think, and a kick to watch.

  15. Far out… a leftie! I was a switch-hitter myself. (Being ambidextrous is SO much fun!!)

    I played softball for years… the scary Chicago-style softball with no mitts and 16-inch not-so-very-soft softballs. Ah, the memories! Several broken bones and every finger sprained at least once. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, too.

  16. I played Little League and then softball as a kid. I never hit off a tee (too old when I joined) or a hitting machine or coach, it was always a kid pitching. And the team with the best pitcher was invariably the best team in the league. Don’t worry, in a year or so those girls will be hurling the ball with confidence and the batters will actually have the opportunity to swing the bat now and then. 9 is still pretty young to become really competent at a sport, but soon the kids’ll get the hang of how their muscles work and then you’ll be watching some really exciting games. …I’m kinda jealous.

    BTW, I haven’t watched the world series since 1999 or so, but I watch the Little League World Series just about every year. It’s exciting, it’s fun, the kids are in it for the joy of the sport, and it’s very nostalgic for me. (I played on the allstars every year I played, and got to go to our National Championship one year. We lost our first 2 games and were disqualified, but it was an amazing experience. We even got a letter of congratulations from our city’s mayor. Yes, my mom kept it.)

  17. Yep. Expect lots and lots more walks. Expect them until at least the end of middle school, if my daughter Nora’s experience is any indication. Nora’s middle school team won lots of games because they had a pitcher who could actually get the ball over the plate. (She never quite got the knack of hitting and has dropped softball now that she’s in high school)

  18. Why is everyone wearing coats and long pants? It’s the middle of May for Chrissakes! Oh, still cold there, huh?


  19. Cold? It’s called “bracing” and it makes for invigorating workouts, deep cleansing breaths and makes you feel more alive than those “warm” states. Unless you’re like me and live indoors as a mole person all the time…

    Dr. Phil

  20. She’s adorable.

    When my younger daughter was that age, she used to swing around in a full circle. I wish I had it on video.

  21. A side effect of the catcher getting off her knees is the shin guards would actually protect her instead of her upper legs protecting them. ;)

    I played T-ball for one year and then a few years of pitched baseball. In tball we played 4 innings and your side was out after either 3 outs or 5 runs, so I think just about every single game ended as a 20-20 tie, because no one could field the ball.
    Then came a year of coach-pitch, and then a year or two of kid pitch before I gave up. This was all before I got glasses, which might have reduced my frustration levels significantly.

    Over 70? Some of those college girls are more like 90, with crazy movement. Having the plate only 2/3 of the distance from the mound (compared to baseball) means college softball hitters basically have to start their swing before the pitcher releases the ball. When the best pitchers are on their game they are unhittable except by chance. Don’t sell the wimmen short. Pro baseball players couldn’t hit some of those pitchers.

    Actually, this is a big problem with high level softball. If you have a top notch pitcher like Cat Osterman, it’s pretty much a pitching duel and nothing else. Lots of games ending 1-0 is not good for a sport (hockey excepted). The other players need an opportunity to contribute too…

  22. What are they playing on – a parking lot? Its a lot easier to do the catching part if you have some grass to do it on.

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