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The Pitcher

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It is such a quick motion; it only takes a mere second to occur. Yet it takes so long to perfect and learn; there is so much concentration and effort put in to acquire this skill. This skill is desired to be learned by many young girls aspiring to play softball in high school and college someday. (The narrow chance of making the Olympic team was taken away this year when it was removed from the 2012 Olympic Games.) (Teams always need enough people to fill this position.) This skill isn’t batting, it isn’t catching or throwing; it is pitching. Underhand windmill is the style, a very unnatural, difficult motion to become used to. In order to even learn it, the steps must be broken down in detail and learned over a long span of time. If you even want to think about pitching fast, you have a long way to go. The unnaturalness of this motion is specifically the reason why so much practice is required. Instilling muscle memory in the pitcher’s body is a major factor in becoming an excellent pitcher. Once the motion is learned, everything else comes with it, including speed and a little ability to place the ball where you want it to go.

There are many sports where you can get away with not knowing the fundamentals, but fundamentals in this position of this sport are vital to your success. As a softball player moves through to more advanced levels, whether in high school or in college, being able to only pitch a fastball down the middle is no longer enough, even if you pitch seventy-five miles an hour. After years of gaining all of this muscle memory and living, breathing, eating, and sleeping fundamentals, the fundamentals go out the window. Each new pitch you learn requires its own sub-fundamentals. It is these pitches that give you the strike outs, not your fastball, which is basically the backbone of all of these pitches. Developing some pitches, such as the rise ball, can take up to two years to really acquire as a usable pitch in a game. At first, throwing a pitch in the strike zone is a challenge, but the real challenge is; hitting spots within the strike zone. Some great pitchers don’t even have a one-hundred percent ability to do this all of the time. One little finger movement or the positioning of your arm by one centimeter, can affect where the ball goes and how it moves.

As anyone reading this can tell, a lot of effort goes into becoming an experienced pitcher. And as they also can tell, it is very important for everything to be going on just right, in the right time and at the right place. As a result, every pitcher has had her fair share of frustration and has managed to obtain a great deal of patience throughout the many years she spent in the gym preparing to strike out as many girls as she could hope to. Unfortunately, no pitcher is perfect, and emotions are a big part of being a pitcher, especially in those horrible in-between years when you seem to have more bad games than good ones. As a pitcher you will laugh, cry, smile; but you’ll mostly cry. Getting over that awkward hump is indescribably liberating. It is the feeling that if you only pitch one great game in your life you’ll be happy, because you worked for that game. Satisfaction is the feeling you have when you throw the perfect screw, curve, drop, and fastball pitches all in a row.

Unwittingly, over the years spent preparing for those strikeouts, a bond was made between the pitcher and this sport called fastpitch softball. At first, before I became a pitcher, the feeling of the ball in my hand, the taste of sunflower seeds and bazooka in my mouth, and the smell of the leather mitt made my stomach turn. “What do I have to offer this sport?” I would think. “It gives me so much, I’ve loved it my whole life.” Now I can say it loves me back. My devotion to it, and the time I have put in, - and am still putting in, has made this sport better.





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