Stanton’s Hoosiers stay true to the message JULY 2018
“We are going to fail. We talk about being first up. When you get knocked down, you get right back up. Early in the year, we weren’t doing that. Once we surrendered the results (we flourished). ... We know who we are. We’re about building strong, positive women.”
COACH’S PROFILE PAGE 12
WORDS TO COACH BY ...
“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the water slide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” TINA FEY, AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS, COMEDIAN, PRODUCER & WRITER
NATIONAL FASTPITCH COACHES ASSOCIATION
VOLUME 23, NO. 7
Familiar faces, newcomers reign Rock Valley wins its fifth straight NJCAA III crown
Virginia Wesleyan repeats as NCAA Division III champ
ROCHESTER, Minn. – Second seeded Rock Valley College defeated top seed Herkimer, 6-2, in the winnertake-all second championship game to win a record fifth consecutive NJCAA Division III Softball national championship at the McQuillan Softball Complex. The final was the third time the top two seeds played at this year’s national tournament, and the third-straight game Rock Valley faced the Generals. Rock Valley had edged Herkimer, 2-1, in the semifinals, then lost the second matchup, 2-1, before winning the third contest. The Golden Eagles now stand alone in NJCAA Division III history, after breaking a tie with College of
OKLAHOMA CITY — AllTournament Team selection Madison Glaubke hit a booming two-run homer and Most Outstanding Player Hanna Hull took things from there, as Virginia Wesleyan University captured its second-straight NCAA Division III
SEE ROCK VALLEY PAGE 9
HULL REPEATS AS SCHUTT SPORTS/ NFCA DIII PLAYER OF YEAR PAGE 4
national championship at OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex. Glaubke had two hits, and two-time NFCA All-American Hull pitched an one-hitter, to fuel the Marlins’ 3-1 victory over Illinois Wesleyan in the decisive third game of the best-of-three championship series. Rock Valley won a fifth consecutive NJCAA Division III title. Photo courtesy Rock Valley College.
SEE VIRGINIA WESLEYAN PAGE 4
Florida State captures first Women’s College World Series OKLAHOMA CITY – Behind UCLA’S GARCIA SWEEPS DIVISON I eight unanswered runs, Florida State PLAYER OF YEAR HONORS PAGE 7 captured its first NCAA Division I national championship with an 8-3 of Fame Complex. The (57-12) Seminoles swept victory over Washington at OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall the Women’s College World Series
Championship Series to become the first program from the Atlantic Coast Conference to win a national title in softball.
One for history
Speed-tracking superstar and longtime NFCA Southern Indiana wins first supporter Pocket Radar inks new official NCAA Division II national championship. sponsor relationship with Association.
NEWS & NOTES PAGE 3
SEE FLORIDA STATE PAGE 7
• Science & Arts of Oklahoma wins first NAIA Softball World Series ... page 3 • Temple College, Jones County capture first NJCAA championships ... page 8 • Mt. San Antonio wins Cal JC title ... page 8
AWARD WINNERS ........................ PAGES 4-7 CATCHING CLAIR-ITY ..................... PAGE 13 MENTAL TRAINING ..................PAGES 14-15 PERFECTING PERFORMANCE ........ PAGE 16 COVERING THE BASES ................... PAGE 17 RULES CORNER ............................... PAGE 18
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NEWS & NOTES
NFCA renews relationship with Pocket Radar LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The NFCA is excited to renew its relationship with Pocket Radar, Inc., as an official sponsor. Pocket Radar, a speed tracking technology company, has signed a multi-year deal with the Association. “The NFCA would like to ‘welcome back’ Pocket Radar as an official sponsor,” NFCA executive director Carol Bruggeman said. “Pocket Radar has been a longtime, loyal supporter of the NFCA. It is
a trusted, first-class company in the sport of fastpitch and provides relevant, easy-to-use products and information for coaches.” As part of their sponsorship deal, Pocket Radar will provide their affordable, convenient, pro-level speed measurement technology to the NFCA for use at their Coaches Clinics and other Association events.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to expand our relationship with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association to the Official Sponsor level for the next three years,” said Steve Goody, the CEO and cofounder of Pocket Radar, Inc. “The NFCA is the premier growth organization for fastpitch softball coaches from all competitive levels, and we are happy to have them introduce
our newest technology and educate the fastpitch community about the benefits of using radar for training, recruiting and player development.” Pocket Radar is one of the premier trusted brands amongst championship-winning high school and collegiate programs nationwide. By providing an affordable and convenient solution to pro-performance radar technology, Pocket Radar has forged a new standard in accurate speed-based training, making it accessible to the masses.
Science and Arts wins first NAIA national championship CLERMONT, Fla. — University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma used a four-run third inning to defeat Columbia College, 4-1, to claim its first NAIA Softball World Series Championship at Legends Way Ballfields. Science and Arts (57-5) scored four unearned runs with two outs in the third, highlighted by Shania Beck’s three-run home run to left to secure a season-ending seven-game win streak. Schutt Sports/NFCA NAIA National Player of the Year Emily Cerny was named Softball World Series Most Valuable Player, after throwing a complete-game five-hitter and going 2-for-2 in the championship game. She pitched all 30 innings for the Drovers at the championship, posting a 1.17 ERA with 27 strikeouts and holding her opposition to a .193 batting average. Meanwhile, Rachel Sullivan went
3-for-4 with an RBI in the loss for Columbia, which finished its season at 37-16. Her RBI single gave the Cougars an 1-0 lead in the top of the second, before Science and Arts ral-
NAIA Softball World Series moving to Missouri KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The NAIA announced that the Greater Springfield Area Sports Commission Inc., will be the host of the 2019 and 2020 NAIA Softball World Series. The event will be played at the Killian Sports Complex and Softball Stadium in Springfield, Mo., on May 24-30, 2019, and May 22-28, 2020, with Evangel University partnering with the Sports Commission to host the tournament. The complex has six lighted softball fields, and its stadium has 500 permanent chair-back seats, which allows a capacity of 1,200 fans. The facility has hosted numerous USA Softball national tournaments, the
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lied ahead the following inning. She tween the third and seventh innings. finished the week with ine his and a Molly Carter took the loss for the .409 average. Cougars, despite not allowing an After the Cougars scored, Cerny earned run. allowed just three base runners be— Courtesy Science and Arts
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Missouri Valley Conference tournament and NCAA regionals. In a separate partnership, Killian Sports Complex will also host one of the 10 NAIA national championship opening-round events on May 13-15, 2019, and May 11-13, 2020. With this announcement, Springfield will be the second Missouri city to host the NAIA Softball World Series. Columbia, Mo., hosted the tournament in 1991 and again from 1993-95. This will be the 16th different city to host the NAIA Softball World Series.
“The NAIA is excited to partner with the Springfield Sports Commission and Evangel University for the 2019 and 2020 Softball World Series events,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr said. “I am confident the community will embrace the NAIA and the sport of softball and will deliver on a first-class experience for our student-athletes. By playing at the Killian Sports Complex, each of the players will compete at a stadium that they will remember for a lifetime.” — Courtesy NAIA
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NEWS & NOTES
Hull repeats as Division III Player of Year LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The NFCA was pleased to announce recently that Virginia Wesleyan University sophomore pitcher Hanna Hull had been chosen as the first repeat winner of the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year award. Hull, who won both Schutt Sports/ NFCA Division III National Player and Freshman of the Year honors last season, was again dominant as the (553) Marlins captured a second consecutive NCAA Division III national championship at OGE Energy Field at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City. The Chesterfield, Va., native was also voted NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player for the second straight season, after finishing the finals in Oklahoma City with 60 strikeouts over just 41 innings and six starts. She threw 418 of her 643 pitches at the tournament for strikes, and recorded a
VIRGINIA WESLEYAN WINS SECOND STRAIGHT D3 TITLE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Hull, who also won Most Outstanding Player honors last season, finished the finals in Oklahoma City with 60 strikeouts over just 41 innings and six starts. She threw 418 of her 643 pitches at the tournament for strikes, and recorded a no-hitter, two onehitters and a three-hitter. Hull allowed just four hits over her first three starts and 21 innings for the (55-3) Marlins at the eight-team event. The win broke Virginia Wesleyan’s own NCAA Division III record for wins in a season, after the Marlins posted 54 victories during last year’s title run. Glaubke’s blast to left in the bottom of the first scored Kiersten Richardson, who had led off the inning with a walk. Three-time All-American and fellow All-Tournament Team selection Cassetty Howerin added an insurance run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly that
no-hitter, two one-hitters and a threehitter. Hull allowed just four hits over her first three starts (21 innings) for the Marlins at the eight-team event. She opened play in Oklahoma City in style, with a 12-strikeout no-hitter against Ithaca, then finished in similar fashion, with a one-hitter in Virginia Wesleyan’s 3-1 victory over Illinois Wesleyan in the decisive third game of the best-of-three championship series. That win broke the Marlins’ own NCAA Division III record for wins in a season, after they posted 54 victories during last year’s title run. At 40-2, Hull matched Muskingum’s Jennifer Segner for the most victories in a season in NCAA Division III history — but had one less loss than Segscored Richardson, who had walked, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Glaubke’s single to center. But it was Illinois Wesleyan (39-131) who jumped in front first, getting on the scoreboard in the top of the first without the benefit of a hit. AllTournament Team selection Jillian Runyon was hit by a pitch, stole second, and took third on Sydney Alery’s groundout. She scored on a wild pitch following All-American and fellow All-Tournament Team choice Sam Berghoff’s walk. The Titans’ Bree Walker earned All-Tournament Team honors after scattering six hits over the first five innings of the finale, which followed up a stellar first day, in which she pitched all eight innings of game two for Illinois Wesleyan and came on in relief of All-American Ally Wiegand in the first contest. After dropping the opening game of the best-of-three championship series, 6-1, the Titans forced a winner-take-all third contest by winning game two, 5-4 in eight innings, later in the day.
ner did in 2000 — and ranked first in the nation in strikeouts (376), second in shutouts (12) and third in hits allowed per seven innings (3.37) this year. “I’m more proud of what she has accomplished this year than last,” Virginia Wesleyan head coach Brandon Elliott said of Hull. “She pitched under immense pressure, with ridiculous expectations, and against the toughest schedule in the nation all year, and still shined.” “But the most impressive thing about Hanna Hull is her humility. If she could, she’d give this award to a teammate.” Hull received first team NFCA AllAmerica honors for the second consecutive season at last Wednesday’s NCAA Championship Banquet and broke the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) career strikeout and shutout records in less than two seasons in the circle. She was again a three-time Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III National Pitcher of the Week this year, and earned five weekly ODAC honors, in addition to being both the ODAC
Pitcher of the Year and ODAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player for the second season in a row. Hull was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher at the Marlins’ NCAA Super Regional and was selected to the All-Tournament team at their NCAA Regional. Marlins teammate Cassetty Howerin was one of the other nine Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year finalists. The University of Texas at Tyler trio of Colleen Bentke, Nicole Garcia and Ashley Perez, Trine University’s Kaylee Fox, Berry College’s Kassie Howard, Christopher Newport University’s Patty Maye Ohanian, St. John Fisher College’s Lindsey Thayer, and Illinois Wesleyan University’s Ally Wiegand were the others. University of Texas at Tyler pitcher Kelsie Batten was the inaugural winner of the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Player of the Year award in 2016, after earning her fourth-straight NFCA All-America honor.
Perez picked as Schutt Sports/ NFCA DIII Freshman of the Year OKLAHOMA CITY — The NFCA recently announced that the University of Texas at Tyler’s Ashley Perez has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Freshman of the Year award. Perez, a catcher from Pflugerville, Texas, finished the year with a .462 batting average, 33 runs, 73 hits — including 23 doubles and 19 homers — and 69 RBI for the (44-5) Patriots, who tied for fifth at the NCAA Championship and ranked fifth in the final NFCA Top 25 poll. Last year’s recipient of the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III National Freshman of the Year award, Virginia Wesleyan University pitcher Hanna Hull, and Perez were both in the group of 10 finalists for this season’s Player
of the Year, which Hull won for a second straight season. Virginia Wesleyan pitcher Kandis Kresinske won the inaugural Freshman of the Year award in 2016. The Schutt Sports/NFCA Division III Freshman of the Year and the NFCA Division III All-America softball teams are selected by eight NCAA Division III head coaches representing each of the eight NCAA regions. Perez was also chosen earlier as this season’s recipient of the Diamond Sports/NFCA Division III Catcher of the Year award.
NEWS & NOTES
Southern Indiana wins first Division II crown SALEM, Va. – The University of Southern Indiana won the first NCAA Division II team national championship in school history, sweeping Saint Anselm in the best-of-three championship series at the Moyer Sports Complex. Sophomore pitcher Jennifer Leonhardt was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player, as the (4123) Screaming Eagles were a perfect 5-0 in Salem and lost just one game during their postseason run. She pitched every game, compiling an 1.44 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 34 innings, which included a no-hitter
and two shutouts. Leonhardt completed four of the five games and held opponents to a .091 batting average. USI became just the second Great Lakes Valley Conference team and the second Midwest Region team to win a Division II title in softball, joining Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, who won the 2007 crown. The Screaming Eagles’ improbable march to the championship included
a 14-1 postseason record for a team that finished the regular season with a 27-22 mark and just the No. 6 seed in their conference tournament. But USI went 4-0 to win the conference title, then was 3-1 in the NCAA Regionals, before sweeping the University of Illinois Springfield in the Super Regional. Meanwhile, Saint Anselm posted the best finish by any team in their school history, winning a programrecord 44 games, including victories against three nationally-ranked programs in NCAA tournament play. After a 2-0 loss in the first game
of the Northeast-10 Championship, Saint Anselm rebounded and earned the right to host the NCAA East Regional and the Super Regional. Across that five-game span, the Hawks recorded wins against Merrimack, Southern New Hampshire and LIU Post to punch the program’s first title to the final eight. In Salem, Saint Anselm posted back-to-back walk-off victories against No. 8 Southern Arkansas and No. 25 Saint Leo, and followed a loss to Southern Arkansas with a win over that same Mulerider squad to earn a berth in the championship series.
Smith selected Schutt Sports/NFCA D2 Player of Year LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sophomore Kylee Smith of the University of North Georgia has been voted the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year. She joined inaugural winner Courtney Poole (2015) as the second NightHawk to earn this honor. Smith, a native of Suwanee, Ga., finished 2018 as the NCAA Division II leader in three categories — victories (36), strikeouts (338) and ERA (0.59) — and played a
pivotal role in North Georgia’s run to the final eight of this year’s NCAA Division II tournament. For the season, she allowed the second fewest hits per seven innings (3.17), was third in strikeouts per seven innings (10.0) and fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio
(7.51). A two-time NFCA first team All-American, Smith held opponents to an .137 batting average and walked just 45 batters in 236.1 innings of work. She was named Peach Belt Pitcher of the Year and was key to the NightHawks collecting their record-fifth straight Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles. Additionally, Smith was the selected the D2CCA Ron Lenz
Pitcher of the Year and named to the D2CCA First Team. Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year was created in 2015 to honor the outstanding athletic achievement among student-athletes in Division II softball. Smith is the fourth recipient of the award, joining Poole, Wayne State University’s Lyndsay Butler in 2016 and Minnesota State’s Coley Ries last season.
Nunes named Division II National Freshman of the Year Concordia University Irvine pitcher adds Schutt Sports/NFCA recognition to 2018 honors
Callie Nunes, left, poses for a photo with NFCA Membership Services Specialist Joni Schmidt.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Concordia University Irvine pitcher Callie Nunes was recently named the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Freshman of the Year. Nunes, a first-team NFCA AllAmerican and finalist for the 2018 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year, led the Eagles to a PacWest title, a No. 2 overall seed and host in their firstever trip to the NCAA Division II West Regional. The rookie hurler posted a 25-4 record with 10 shutouts, a 0.74 ERA and 289 strikeouts in 190.1 innings
of work. Nunes twirled two no-hitters, held her opponents to a .129 batting average and registered eight saves. The PacWest Freshman and Pitcher of the Year boasted the league’s only ERA under 1.00 and led the PacWest in strikeouts, shutouts, opponent batting average and saves. Nunes, a native of Modesto, Calif., ranked second nationally in ERA, saves, strikeouts per seven
innings (10.7) and hits allowed per seven innings (3.05). She was third in strikeouts and tied for seventh in shutouts. NFCA Division II National Freshman of the Year award was created in 2015 to honor the outstanding athletic achievement among freshmen softball student-athletes throughout Division II. Previous winners include Dixie State University’s Janessa Bassett in 2015, Colorado Christian University’s Charlotte Romero in 2016 and Harding University’s Autumn Humes last season.
NEWS & NOTES
Alo named Division I Freshman of the Year Standout slugger second Oklahoma player to earn this Schutt Sports/NFCA award OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s Jocelyn Alo was named the 2018 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year announced at the recent NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) banquet at the Oklahoma City Farmers Market Event Center. Alo, an NFCA first team AllAmerican after being an All-Central Region selection, had a monstrous rookie season at the plate. The utility player led the NCAA with 30 home runs, and tied former Oklahoma star Lauren Chamberlain (2012) and Hawaii’s Kelly Majam (2010) for the NCAA Division I record for homers in a season by a freshman. Additionally, she tied theSooners’ school mark for most homers in a season, which Chamberlain did twice during her stellar career. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year finished conference play first in
home runs (nine), walks (17), runs scored (18), RBI (25), total bases (46) and slugging percentage (.979), and was second in on-base percentage (.554). Alo is the second Sooner to win the award, as senior teammate Paige Parker took home the honor in 2015. Those two, plus 2016 recipient Amanda Lorenz of Florida and 2017 winner Rachel Garcia of UCLA were all participants in this year’s WCWS in Oklahoma City. Michigan pitcher Meghan Beaubia and Arkansas hurler Mary Haff were Alo’s fellow finalists. Annie Aldrete, then of Tennessee, and Kasey Cooper of Auburn shared the inaugural award in 2014. Jocelyn Alo, left, poses with NFCA Executive Director Carol Bruggeman after the announcement.
Cerny captures Schutt Sports/NFCA NAIA Player of Year LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Emily Cerny was named the Schutt Sports/NFCA NAIA National Player of the Year, the Association announced recently. Cerny played a pivotal role in the Drovers winning their first NAIA Softball World Series title. The rookie hurler led the NAIA with 33 wins and ranked third in opponent batting average (.164) and strikeouts (298), and was seventh in ERA (1.15). The Newcastle, Okla., native finished the season with a 33-4 record and 12 shutouts, both program records. Cerny was also named the World Series Most Valuable Player, after tossing a complete-game five-hitter and going 2-for-2 in the championship game. She pitched all 30 innings for the
and holding her opposition to a .193 batting average. Earlier, she garnered NAIA and Sooner Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year honors. Drovers at the championship, postThe award was voted on by the ing a 1.17 ERA with 27 strikeouts members of the NFCA’s NAIA
All-America Committee. Cerny is the third recipient of the Schutt Sports/NFCA honor, joining last year’s winner Kaisey Carson of Indiana Wesleyan and inaugural recipient Nicole Nonemacher of Saint Xavier.
Faraimo named Gatorade Player of the Year SAN DIEGO — Megan Faraimo of San Diego’s Cathedral Catholic High School was recently named the Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year. Faraimo, who is poised to begin her freshman year at UCLA, is the third Bruin to be named Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year in the last four seasons, and the seventh overall to earn the honor. In fact, the Bruins’ 2019 roster will feature all three of those
players, including 2015 honoree Rachel Garcia and 2016 honoree Bubba Nickles. Faraimo, a 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher, posted a 26-3 record in the circle this season as a senior for Cathedral Catholic. Her 0.23 ERA and 405 strikeouts helped lead the Dons to San Diego Section Open Division championship game. Her strikeout total was the secondhighest, single-season total in CIF San Diego Section history. For the year, Faraimo allowed
just 47 hits and eight walks in 186.1 innings, while hitting .316 at the plate, with seven home runs, 22 RBI and a .645 slugging percentage. She finished her high school career with 1,028 strikeouts. Faraimo has a 3.49 grade point average and volunteers locally as a youth tutor and softball coach. She has donated her time on behalf of multiple community service initiatives through her church. — Courtesy of UCLA
NEWS & NOTES
UCLA’s Garcia sweeps Division I honors Bruins’ standout selected winner of both Schutt Sports/NFCA and USA Softball Player of Year awards LOUISVILLE, Ky. – UCLA sophomore Rachel Garcia was named both the 2018 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Player of the Year and the USA hit .273 (9-for-33) with 10 RBI, Softball National Collegiate Playwhich was second on the team, er of the Year, both organizations and two homers. revealed recently. The award was voted on by the members of the NFCA’s NCAA GARCIA, a two-time NFCA Division I All-America CommitAll-American, led the Bruins’ tee. Garcia is the third recipient pitching staff with a 29-4 record, of the award, joining 2017 win1.31 ERA and 273 strikeouts in ner Megan Good of James Madi208 innings in the circle. In ad- son and inaugural winner Sierra dition to her pitching accolades, Romero of Michigan. Garcia boasted a .339 batting avEarlier, Garcia was named the erage, 11 home runs and 54 RBI. USA Softball honoree. The Pac-12 and espnW Player of the Year tossed 21 complete “I’M HONORED,” Garcia said. games this season and twirled “This whole season I’ve had my nine shutouts, added two saves team’s back and they’ve had mine and limiting opponents to a .143 in return. To win this award, I’m batting average. just very honored and humbled.” Named to the Women’s College “What an honor to be able to World Series (WCWS) all-tour- have this opportunity,” UCLA nament team, Garcia pitched 23 head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez of the Bruins’ 27 innings there, said. “It’s also an honor that the recording 42 strikeouts, a pair (USA Softball) trophy was modof wins and completing three eled after Lisa Fernandez, her games. She fanned 15 in both coach and somebody that I beBruin victories — against Flori- lieve Rachel will have the same da State and Florida — adding 12 type of career as. Rachel’s a fierce strikeouts in nine innings versus competitor and has a hard work Florida State. ethic.” Overall, Garcia threw 65.1 “I think what truly defined her of UCLA’s 75.1 innings in the is when she came into UCLA. NCAA Tournament, striking out She came off being a phenomenal 97 and posting an 1.82 ERA and senior (and) Gatorade National an 8-2 record. At the plate, she Player of the Year. Then she ended
FLORIDA STATE CAPTURES FIRST NATIONAL CROWN CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first, game one offensive hero Anna Shelnutt drove a two-run homer to center to cut Florida State’s deficit to 3-2 and give the Seminoles the momentum they would need.
It didn’t take long for the Seminoles to grab the lead, as they forged ahead for good, 5-3, in the bottom of the second. Elizabeth Mason drove in the first run with a RBI single to right. When her hit was misplayed, Cali Harrod scored the go-ahead run. Jessie Warren then stepped up and knocked in Mason with a single. Mason and Warren went yard in the fourth to push Florida State’s lead to
up getting hurt and went down for her freshman year, but it was a defining year for her. I got to see her and learn more about her in that off year. She worked hard and never gave up – it was hard, and that’s what makes me so proud.” The other finalists for the USA Softball award were 2018 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Pitcher of the Year Kel- UCLA’s Rachel Garcia swept the two national Player of Year awards ly Barnhill, SEC Player in Division I softball. Photo courtesy of USA Softball. of the Year Amanda Loman (2003, 2005 and 2006), Jessica renz and 2018 Big 12 Pitcher of the Van der Linden (2004), Monica AbYear Paige Parker. Despite having the trophy modeled bott (2007), Angela Tincher (2008), after former UCLA legend Fernan- Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010), dez, Garcia is the first UCLA athlete Ashley Hansen (2011), Keilani Rickto win the USA Softball Collegiate etts (2012 and 2013), Lacey Waldrop Player of the Year award since Stacey (2014), Lauren Haeger (2015), Sierra Nuveman won the inaugural honor in Romero (2016) and Kelly Barnhill (2017). 2002. — Some info courtesy USA Softball Other past recipients are Cat Oster8-3. Mason drove a two-run homer to center and, after a pitching change, Warren connected on a solo shot to center. In the circle, Meghan King (26-6) shook off the three-run first inning and provided a strong complete-game effort. The southpaw surrendered an earned run on five hits with four strikeouts and three walks. After the first, King retired the side in four of her
six innings and allowed just three base runners. The Huskies finished their season at 52-10. Taran Alvelo (23-5) suffered the defeat in 3.1 innings of work. She allowed seven runs, six earned, on seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Five different Huskies recorded a hit, while Noelle Hee and Taryn Atlee registered an RBI apiece.
NEWS & NOTES
Jones County claims first NJCAA DII crown CLINTON, Miss. – Three-time first national title, national runner-up Jones County but it was also the Junior College rolled past five-time first softball title titlist Phoenix College, 18-2, for its for an Mississippi first NJCAA Division II national Association of championship recently at Traceway Community and Junior Colleges Park. school. Not only was it Jones County’s “I’m so happy for our kids,
Mt. San Antonio captures first CCCAA title since 2009 WALNUT, Calif. — Vicky Gutierrez’s three-run home run in the sixth powered Mt. San Antonio College over Palomar College 5-4, for its first CCCAA state softball championship since 2009. After Palomar took a 4-2 advantage in the fifth, Gutierrez connected to left to give the Mounties the lead for good. Jessica Olvera came on in the sixth and shook off a pair of singles to retire the final six batters to ice the victory for the five-time state champion Mounties, who registered their first title under sixth-year head coach Rubilena Rojas. Palomar had taken an 1-0 lead on the fourth pitch of the game,
when Sarah Fisher homered to left. But the Mounties tied the score in the third on Amanda Esquivel’s RBI single. Tournament Most Valuable Player Michelle Santiago’s sacrifice fly made the score 2-1 in favor of Mt. San Antonio before the Comets regained the lead, 4-2, on Alicia Garcia’s three-run home run. Fisher went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI, while teammates Kylie Pignone and Allie Hughen added two hits apiece to join her on the All-Tournament team. — Courtesy of CCCAA
Loyola Marymount wins NISC LOS ANGELES — Hannah Bandimere threw a one-hit shutout and Alicia Brown hit her second grand slam of the tournament, as Loyola Marymount captured the 2018 Postseason NISC championship with a 5-0 win over UC Riverside at Smith Field. A solo homer in the second by Delanie Wisz proved to be all the offense the Lions would need, with Bandimere dominating in the circle, throwing seven shutout innings and not allowing a hit after Jenna Curtan’s single in the first. In the sixth, Brown’s blast extended Loyola Marymount’s advantage to 5-0. Brown, Wisz, Maddison Flores
and Molly Grumbo were all named to the All-Tournament team for the Lions, while Jenae Lockwood, Seanna Garewal, Tayler Misfeldt and Curtan represented the Highlanders. The Lions went 3-1 at the Northern Colorado Regional to advance to the NISC championship and did not lose in the final round, scoring wins over UC Riverside in the semifinals and championship after opening with a victory over UT Arlington. This was Loyola Marymount’s first postseason action since 2007, when the Lions won the now-defunct Pacific Coast Softball Conference championship. — Courtesy of Triple Crown Sports
our program, our school and our administration,” said ninth-year head coach Chris Robinson, who has guided Jones County to six national tournament appearances in the last seven years. “When we started back in August, I said if they bought in, we would have a chance to play on the third Saturday in May and they lived up to it. “I’m very thankful for those 18 kids and our three coaches.” The Bobcats sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning to put the game out of reach early. For five tournament games, Jones County outscored their opponents, 69-12, and belted 15 home runs. Tournament Most Valuable Player
Kelsha Loftin capped a tremendous week in the title game, going 4-for-4 with two homers, a double, a single and six RBI. “To finally do it, it just feels amazing because we work so hard each and every day,” Loftin said. “I’m just overwhelmed. It was a whole team effort. We just feed off of each other and when one person gets a hit, the next one wants to.” Karli Perque and Madison Burge were named to the tournament’s AllBattery Team, while shortstop Taylor Murray was named Most Valuable Defensive Player. Third baseman Emily Robinson was named AllTournament Infield and Loftin was named All-Tournament Outfield. — Courtesy of Jones County JC
Temple tops Chipola to win first NJCAA Division I title ST. GEORGE, Utah — Temple defeated Chipola at the Canyons Complex to win its first NJCAA Division I Softball National Championship. The (47-8) Leopards won the winner-take-all championship game, 6-1, after Chipola forced a second title contest with a 2-0 win earlier in the day. Karina Sanchez was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after collecting four wins in the circle during the event. The sophomore had seven strikeouts in the title-clinching triumph. Meanwhile, sophomore Barbara Woll was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the (56-4) Indians, who suffered two of just four losses all season in their final two days of play. This was the second time in the past three years that perennial NJCAA Division I powerhouse Chipola finished second nationally. In the 2018 finale, it was a pitchers’ duel between Sanchez and Chipola’s
Krystal Goodman for the first four innings, before the Leopards’ offense broke through in the fifth on Kelsi Murie’s three-run homer. Dalilah Barrera took it from there, closing out the game with five strikeouts over two innings. En route to its first title, Temple went 5-1. Three of the victories came against the last two national champions —two-time winner Butler (2016-17) and 2015 titlist Chipola. Defending champion Butler finished third in its bid to win a third-straight championship, but had Celina Sullivan named the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the tournament after she allowed just four earned runs over 18 innings while collecting 22 strikeouts. Temple is only the second Texas school — 2014 champion Angelina was the first — to win an NJCAA softball national championship. — Courtesy of NJCAA
NEWS & NOTES
Lady Vols’ Gregg grabs Senior CLASS award OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — NFCA All-America shortstop Meghan Gregg of the University of Tennessee was selected as the softball recipient of the 2018 Senior CLASS Award. Gregg is the second student-athlete from Tennessee to win a Senior CLASS Award, following Madison Shipman’s win in 2014. “I am so honored to receive the Senior Class Award,” said Gregg, who helped the Lady Vols to one Women’s College World Series appearance
and two trips to the NCAA Super Regionals in her career. “Being able to join the list of athletes who have received this award in the past is so humbling because of their impressive athletic ability and high character. The four areas that this award highlights have all been achieved because of the core values of the Tennessee softball program. Living
by the core values of Servant Warrior, Competitor, Integrity, Passion, Respect and Preparation, my teammates and I have grown into women of great character and esteem. I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given by being a part of such a prestigious program. I feel that I am confident and ready for the next chapter of my life because my coaches, Ralph and Karen Weekly, have prepared me for my future career.” An acronym for Celebrating
Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a studentathlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. — Courtesy Premier Sports Management
ESPN announces inaugural Elite Softball Invitational ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, is adding an annual early-season softball event to its roster for the 2019 NCAA Division I Softball season, with the introduction of the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational, which will take place Feb. 14-17 at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. “We are excited to expand ESPN’s commitment to NCAA Division I Softball with the launch of this elite event,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming and ESPN Events. “The St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational brings together some of the nation’s top talent in a highly desirable destination for teams and fans.” The inaugural event will feature national champion Florida State
University, Florida Atlantic University, Hofstra, James Madison, Kentucky, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and two teams from the Big Ten to be announced later this year. Thirteen of the teams that will compete in the event advanced to postseason play this past year, with Florida State, Oklahoma and Oregon advancing to the Women’s College World Series. “This new tournament to start the 2019 Division I Women’s Softball season is the result of a shared vision between ESPN, Visit St. Petersburg/ Clearwater, and the City of Clearwater to promote softball and will build on
Clearwater’s long history of supporting the sport at all levels,” said Clearwater mayor George Cretekos. The Eddie C. Moore Complex has hosted NFCA Leadoff Classics, the Adidas Softball Invitational, the USA Women’s National Softball Team and the Michele Smith Softball Camps. “As the leader in sports and events programming, we are thrilled to collaborate with ESPN and the City of Clearwater to bring this event to our exciting destination and showcase our area, especially our world-class beaches,” said Tim Ramsberger, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s Chief Operating Officer. “We look forward to welcoming all of the college student athletes and fans to our wonderful community and hosting a great experience for
everyone. A special thank you to our local resident and two-time Olympian, Michele Smith for playing a vital role in bringing this event together.” — Courtesy of ESPN Events
ROCK VALLEY WINS FIFTH CONSECUTIVE NJCAA TITLE
Trailing 2-1 after four innings, Rock Valley scored five in the fifth, including a two-run single from Candance Kipp. Rock Valley freshman Jordan Hall was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, as well as the Most Outstanding Pitcher, after allowing just three earned runs in 21 innings pitched. Golden Eagle sophomore Annaka Bartz, meanwhile, was named both the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player and and Most Outstanding Defensive Player, after batting .529 and hitting a
homer in the clinching game. Emily Cox, Courtney Fernette and Michaela Spanbauer were all named to the All-Tournament team for Rock Valley. Keeanna Wolcik was named to the All-Tournament team for the second consecutive year for Herkimer, along with teammates Kali Puppolo and Morgan Sgarlata; while North Dakota State College of Science’s Brooke Harder, Bekah Ludden and Salavao Veu; Brookdale’s Katrina Hand; and Monroe’s Maria Marcera rounded out the selections.
Madi Mott earned her 29th win in the circle, while Kayla Curtan and Kalyna Korok wrapped up the season as the top-two hitters in the conference at .578 and .517, respectively, for the Cardinals. Korok also finished the season as the NWAC leader in homers (20) and RBI (85). In the semifinals, the No. 1-ranked (50-3) Cardinals held off a late rally to defeat No. 3 Edmonds Community College, 7-5. Leading 7-3 in the sixth inning, North Idaho gave up two runs before Audrey Siepert pitched a perfect seventh to earn the save and preserve the win.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 DuPage for most titles. DuPage won championships in 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2004. The Golden Eagles also matched Central Arizona and Phoenix College for most crowns ever in NJCAA play. Central Arizona won its five titles before the NJCAA went to divisions, while Phoenix has captured five NJCAA Division II championships.
North Idaho wins NWAC title SPOKANE, Wash. — Jori Kerr hit a three-run homer as North Idaho defeated Lower Columbia College, 8-5, to capture its first Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) Championship recently at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.
GETTING INSIDE ACCESS TO THE WCWS
Participants in the NFCA’s recent NFCC 408 course at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City got plenty of behind-the-scenes access, ranging from insight from the participating coaches to the best seats in the house to perfect your scouting skills. This class is among the NFCA’s most popular offerings, so start thinking now about 2019.
ABOVE LEFT: The NFCC 408 class poses with Washington head coach Heather Tarr, one of the WCWS finalists. TOP PHOTO: Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda also talked to the class before one of her games. ABOVE: ESPN’s Meg Aronowitz gave attendees a look behind-the-scenes of the television production. BELOW: Instructors Larissa Anderson and Carol Bruggeman share some knowledge. LOWER RIGHT: NCAA Director of Championships Sharon Cessna addresses the class. LOWER LEFT: A look inside the classroom and from the attendees’ seats located right behind home plate. AT LEFT: UCLA head coach Kelly InouyePerez also took time for a photo after talking to the class. (NFCA staff photos)
Stanton’s Hoosiers stay true to the message
Indiana head coach stuck with system through early-season struggles and reaped the benefits By DAVE HINES Editor After a successful 18-year run at Marshall University, Shonda Stanton brought 560 wins and a confidence in her coaching staff’s ability to Indiana University. That came in handy when the Hoosiers got off to a 2-11 start before Big 10 play opened and they had a chance to test themselves against schools with names like Michigan and Nebraska. Stick with the process. It works. Keep preparing like a champion. Just put your head down and keep working hard. In mid-March, things finally started clicking, and Indiana ran off seven straight wins, including three-game conference sweeps of Ohio State and Michigan State. From there, the Hoosiers were a different team — finishing third in the final Big 10 standings and losing in the tournament semifinals to eventual Big 10 champion Minnesota. “We are going to fail,” Stanton said. “We talk about being first up. When you get knocked down, you get right back up.” “Early in the year, we weren’t doing that. Once we surrendered the results (we flourished).” Indiana won 10 of its final 14 conference games and was playing some of its best softball at the end of the season, right when everyone
During a 2-11 start, Shonda Stanton kept doing the things she knew worked, and Indiana finished third in the Big 10 standings. Photo by Indiana Athletics.
SEE STANTON PAGE 19
IN THE DUGOUT WITH SHONDA STANTON What are some problems coaches now face that are different from when you started coaching? “The criticism is at a high. It’s tough now when you have a down year. The exposure brings a higher level of scrutiny, which we welcome.” If you knew then what you know now, how would your coaching have been different? “Maybe 15 years ago, I got caught up in the results.
Now when I coach, I look at an athlete as ‘they are not there yet,’ rather than ‘they are never going to get there.’” How has the game changed in the time you’ve been coaching? “The growth of the game has been tremendous. The coverage. The athletes. The excitement and energy. It’s amazing. How could you not be captivated by the run
Florida State made?” Is there a secret to success in coaching? “I think you’ve got to be you. We can get so caught up (in wins and losses). You’ve got to be confident in what you’re doing. Work your tail off and have fun.” What would your ideal season be like? “Watch someone do something they didn’t think they could do, and then raise the bar.”
Set your catchers and team up for success By JO CLAIR Founder, Protect the Plate Now that the collegiate season is officially behind us, it is now time to focus our attention to the youth space and the summer tournament season. Through Protect the Plate, I interact with many young players and youth organizations every week. I also was a player on a competitive travel softball team for nine years. Drawing on all of my experiences, from both behind the plate and on the sidelines, here are five suggestions for young catchers and youth coaches to make the most of their summer tournament season: Wear your armor proudly This is what I would say to catchers: When your pitcher asks you to warm them up, you need to treat it as your warm up as well. This means that you put on all of your gear (shin guards, chest protector and helmet) when warming up a pitcher, as opposed to just using your glove and helmet. If you are wearing your entire set of gear, you will warm up seriously and be able to practice all of your skills, such as blocking, correctly. Your job behind the plate is equally as important as a pitcher’s job in the circle, and your team’s success depends on the success of the pitcher and the catcher, both individually and together. This is what I would say to coaches: Have a conversation with your catchers about the importance of warm ups and hold them accountable for wearing all of their gear when warming up a pitcher. Warm up intentionally To catchers: You are not simply a backstop. Your job is not just to catch the ball and throw it back to the pitcher. The position requires so much more of you, which is why it is important to
warm up intentionally. When your pitcher is working from her K position, focus on receiving or making transfers from your knees. When your pitcher is warming up from her full motion, add in a few “dry” blocks between pitches. You can also practice exploding out of your squat with a clean transfer and proper footwork, as if throwing someone out at second base. Be creative! Use the fact that you are receiving live pitches to work through the skill set that you’ll need come game time. To coaches: Watch and be present for your team’s warm ups. Interact and engage with your players during this time. Regardless of their age, avoid leaving it up to them to warm up properly for a game. Encourage and help your catcher to be creative in working through her skill set while warming up a pitcher. Learn to call your own game To catchers: I think it is important at the youth level for you to be calling pitches. It is your responsibility to establish a relationship with your pitchers. It is your responsibility to know what pitches she throws, how those pitches move, and when to use different pitches. It is important that you learn how to use pitches in order to set up hitters, and that you begin to understand hitters’ swings and set ups. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, because this is how you learn! Your knowledge of the game will skyrocket as you get older if you learn to call pitches from a young age. To coaches: Let your catchers call the game. Having said that, set them up to succeed by communicating with them often about pitch calling. Have conversations with them when they are catching for a pitcher in practice. Have conversations with them pre-game about what pitches
are or are not working for the pitcher on that day. Have conversations with them between innings to ask them what they are thinking and what they are seeing. They might not always call the “right” pitch, but be supportive of them in this role. The more questions that you ask, the more that they are going to be required to think about the game, about their decisions, and about their actions. This will make them better ballplayers in the long run. Get comfortable communicating To catchers: This is not the time of year to be focused on your mechanics. Instead, focus your energy and effort into managing the emotional side of the game. To start, make sure that you have a close relationship with all the pitchers on your team. Get comfortable calling timeout to talk to your pitcher or call in the infield. Challenge yourself to step in front of the plate after every play to direct your infielders and outfielders. Be the first one to run off the field to congratulate your teammates after recording three outs. Put your gear on quickly between innings and hustle onto the field at the start of every inning. All these details matter! To coaches: Encourage and praise your catcher for managing the emotional side of the game, as this does take a toll on a player. Encourage your catcher to interact with her pitcher often and to be vocal on the field between defensive outs, even if this is out of her comfort zone. Platoon playing time To catchers: With the way that the weekend tournaments are currently set up, it is a likely that you will be catching multiple games in a weekend, if not in a single day. As you get older, you will begin to feel the effects of catching a single game. It is important from a young
Jo Clair is the founder and owner of Protect the Plate — a platform dedicated to providing catcher-specific instruction and using the sport to build character and culture for young women at the youth level. Clair served as an assistant coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for two years, and assisted one season at Tufts University, where she was a three-time NFCA All-America catcher. She led the nation in homers (24) and runs batted in (69) in 2014, her senior year, when the Jumbos won the second of three straight NCAA Division III national championships. For her career, Clair collected the third-most home runs (67), and seventh-most total bases (498) and runs batted in (220) in Division III history.
age that you take care of your body, in particular your knees and your shoulder. Warm up seriously, cool down properly, and be an advocate for your own health and well-being. To coaches: Coming from someone who is a serious competitor, I understand your drive to win softball games. However, as I alluded to, with the way that weekend tournaments are currently set up, I think it is imperative that you use multiple catchers throughout a weekend. One catcher should not be catching five-plus games in a weekend, primarily because of overuse concerns. Plus, sharing responsibilities amongst multiple catchers on your team allows others to learn, improve, and grow through in-game experience. I hope that these five suggestions help both young catchers and youth coaches to have a productive and successful tournament season this summer!
TRAINING YOUR MIND
Mental health and the collegiate athlete By AARON WEINTRAUB Mental Training Expert Addressing the mental health issues of depression and suicide is a significant part of an athletic department’s responsibility. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in college-aged students, after road accidents. Over eight percent of college students entertain serious thoughts of suicide during their time in school, and I think we all agree that one life lost to suicide at this tender age is one too many. As if that’s not a big enough problem, suicide’s source, depression, affects over one-third of college students at some point during every year, according to the American Psychological Association. These numbers are for the general collegiate population, and the numbers for student-athletes — where the pressure to perform and be role models is increased — are probably even worse. THE NCAA’S Sport Science Institute (SSI) reported that about 30 percent of the 20,000-plus studentathletes in a 2015 study self-reported that they had been intractably overwhelmed during the month before participating in the study. This number was trending in the wrong direction, compared to previous SSI studies in 2010 and 2006. We need action to reverse this trend. SSI stated that mental health exists on a continuum, with resilience and thriving on one end of the spectrum and mental health disorders that disrupt a college athlete’s functioning and performance at the
other. I concur. The question becomes, how can we best support mental health and promote performance enhancement skills? The solution to this immense problem is not hidden. Increasing the quantity of conversations about this topic leads to increased transparency, understanding, and personal awareness. With awareness, an adjustment is possible! BUT YOU DON’T have to be sick to get better. Student-athletes without depression will improve their own mental toughness when they better understand the spectrum of mental health and validate their own and other people’s traumas. Another effect of better understanding and increased conversation is that they will know how to work on their mental skills while they work on their physical skills. Mental skills training, done correctly, helps everyone to get better, faster. Treatments for depression are available, and they work, but they are grossly under-utilized. The prevailing thought among students-athletes is that any depressive tendencies they have are evidence that something is wrong with them. Seeking support is seen as a sign of weakness, when in truth, it is proof of strength. We must actively fight this! Unfortunately, most coaches have propagated the flawed belief that depression equals weakness by teaching an one-sided approach to mental toughness that ignores the realities affecting a large minority
— or, perhaps a majority — of their team. They promote the idea that their players should always be positive and confident. This contributes to a struggling person’s false belief that their situation is unusual. We should all understand how normal depression and anxiety are! Certainly, coaches should try to increase enthusiasm for hard work, a growth mindset, and embracing pressure as the shadow of great opportunities. By sweeping the reality of the spectrum of mental health within their teams under the rug, they miss the chance to effectively address many challenges. THIS IS A conversation that many people do not enjoy. The topic itself can be quite depressing. But we need it. I like to promote hope and optimism and a better understanding of how to tap into human potential. The truth is inspiring. Many of the tools of treatments of depression have related tools in the performance toolbox of elite athletes, including teamwork, imagery, power phrases, goal setting, and routines. It provides the needed service of better understanding of depression and suicide. It increases the conversation here and beyond, and it does so in the least negative way possible. It connects these issues along the mental health spectrum to the potential that sports are designed to draw out of each student-athlete. Sports are a wonderful vehicle for teaching life lessons. Regardless of the mechanics of a proactive approach,
Aaron Weintraub runs www.CoachTraub. com, a consulting business with the mission of over-delivering value on goods and services designed to help you and yours win the mental side of the game. He also recently launched a blog called Smile Coach. Weintraub sells a “Complete Mental Game Plan” to serve every team member on his website, www.SoftballMentalMaster.com, which now includes an one-hour live team webinar, which can be done in a hotel, classroom, or with everyone in their own homes. If you have an hour and internet access, you can easily bring Weintraub’s positive message of personal power and teamwork to your team. Weintraub holds a bachelor’s of arts degree from Emory University and a master’s of education degree from the University of Virginia. Before becoming a full-time mental skills coach, Weintraub served as an assistant baseball coach for 13 years at Emory, the University of Virginia, Presbyterian College, Brevard College and Cedar Valley College. He and wife Nicole have five children and currently live near Atlanta.
let’s not miss an opportunity to help the many student-athletes affected by the disease of depression, and let’s not miss the opportunity to teach the tools used by the greatest athletes in the world to everyone. Let’s increase the conversation about mental health.
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THE MENTAL GAME
Motivation and inspiration are different By JEN CRONEBERGER President, JLynne Consulting Group I often get asked to come in and motivate a team, both in sports and in the corporate world. I get questions about how to do so, and techniques that are long lasting. I have been asked more so lately than ever the difference between motivation and inspiration, some even going as far as asking if there really is a difference. Well, what say you? I have a deeply defined understanding of the two concepts. Hopefully after reading this article you will, too. In psychology, motivation is defined as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. In psychology, there is also a discussion about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. I TEND TO disagree with this idea, because of the fact that most motivation is extrinsic. I can motivate my players by firing them up. However, the burn-off effect of motivation is quick. It is like a rocket lifting off. It’s quickly gone after the loud boom. The reason why external motivation often is fleeting is because every athlete is different and has different levels of what moves them to action. Before we go further, let’s get to the bottom of why we are even talking about this. Most coaches
ask me how to motivate their teams. This question is interesting to me. I don’t know how to answer that really. The truth is, there is a deeper desire here. It’s not really about motivating the team … it’s about getting the most out of them to succeed. Motivation is nothing if they don’t take action. I sat and thought about this for a while. Again, in my mind, it comes back to the why. To every piece I have written about, from the first month I wrote an article for this paper years ago. WHY ARE WE coaching, and why are they playing? Defining that, understanding it, and deciding to make that your sole focus all of a sudden changes the game. So back to motivation. It’s helpful. It’s good. And it can be fun … but the trophy, the rah-rah, the high never really lasts. So, motivation is not really what you are asking for, is it? Motivating your players isn’t really what you seek to do. I would like to suggest we use motivation for what it’s worth, but we understand the real intrinsic value of inspiration. In Latin, “inspiration” means “to breathe life into.” This got me thinking. To breathe life into … to feel a strong pull toward something that one is meant to do … to feel almost a divine calling to be, do and have what it is that you are focused on. In spirit. This seems a little longer-lasting
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than the fifth inning, 13-second rahrah speech in the dugout. It exists regardless of outcome. It has no bearing on win or lose. It doesn’t know any better. Ahhh. Deep stuff. But this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the “mental game” can really get traction. THIS IS WHY when I talk about the mental game, I know I have different thoughts than most. But that’s OK. I like to be different. To me, it’s not just about helping our athletes feel good in that moment, or not beat themselves up over mistakes that inning. It’s more than that. It’s deeper than that. It’s the responsibility of any good coach to understand that. Challenge yourself to sit with this for a few minutes. Motivation is filled with empty promises. Inspiration is the real golden egg we all seek to understand and embrace. OK … so how? What do we do next? Well, nothing. We don’t do anything. We must be a leader who inspires. When we come from a place of passion, purpose, and a deeper understanding of why, we will inspire others to do the same. How many of you have ever actually wrote out your personal mission statement/philosophy or your why? How many of you know your why to such a deep level, there is no questioning it? It’s NONNEGOTIABLE. Inspiration must follow suit. It just is. It comes from within. It has no bearing on trophies or awards or stats. It doesn’t care whether or not you fail. It is a long, committed relationship in the way that motivation is a one-night stand. I long to be inspired forever to coach and speak and teach from this place. When I lose that, I will hang it up. If I am no good to my work and
Jen Croneberger is a mental game coach who speaks at clinics, team workshops and corporate seminars. She has been interviewed on ABC News (Philadelphia affiliate) on many occasions about the mental game, consulted by MTV’s MADE as a fear coach and was the 2009 Female Business Leader of the Year for Chester County, Pa. She works with many organizations and sports teams from professionals to youth and is formerly the head softball coach at Ursinus College. Follow her on Twitter at @JenCroneberger and find her on Facebook at Jennifer Lynne Croneberger. Her blogs and more information on her programs can be found on www.thefivewords.com.
I only become a good motivator, I will be trying to draw blood from a stone. It dries up. Frustration moves in. Teams fall apart. It’s as clear as day when I see it happen. I have been asked to work with teams from big Division I programs to big corporate boardrooms. I am always amazed at the disconnect between “coach and team.” It’s not all teams, but those that seem to feel “vacant” of their why. All good warriors rally behind a cause. With no cause, there is no why. Good coaches lay this foundation with inspiration and a consistency of knowing … having faith and trusting the process. Good teams follow this. They find their own inspiration and that becomes everything. This is the path of a champion. These are the defining moments. It starts from within. It ends from within. And the process is all the same.
Focus should be on thriving, not surviving By MEGAN BROWN, Ph.D Assistant Coach, Boston College It happens to every program in the country. The season ends, we have exit meetings with all of our players, and then we hold our breath and pray that between that exit meeting and next fall that our players prepare for next season. We hope they follow the workout packets that the strength coach gave them. We hope they hit, pitch, run, and throw more than just the two weeks before they come back. But, most of all, we hope they come back hungry to learn and help the team reach its goals for the next season. Why do we worry about this? We do this because we are dedicated to our teams and programs, and only want to see them become better each year. BUT IF I AM wanting this for my players, I have to ask myself two important questions: What am I personally doing as a coach to make sure I come back as a better coach next year than I am right now? How can I make sure I am the coach that our team needs to reach its goals? Each coach will have to answer these questions for themselves, but, since summer is a great time to reflect and develop personally and professionally, I thought I would pass along a few ways to grow this summer. A good place to start is with how your team did this year. Run the numbers. Our athletic department requires staff evaluations throughout the year. This has taught me that when asked how things are going, it is best to take opinion out of the equation as much as possible and stick with the facts and numbers. This allows for provable results and clear unbiased reflection. If you are not a head coach, look at the numbers for the area you coach. Are they better than last year? What
areas did specific players grow? Where did you fall back? Once you do this, look at how your numbers match up with your conference and the country. Knowing exactly where you stand can give clear understanding and direction for improvement. ONCE YOU SEE clear areas of focus, you have to start making plans for how to implement these changes. It is one thing to say we need to reduce walks with our pitchers, it is quite another to have a plan to implement this concept, and achieve measurable results. Symptoms of a problem are easy to spot, but I have found that if we only treat symptoms, we will never find the cure, and so also, we will never fix the problem. You have to keep digging until it becomes clear how to fix the problem. You have to look at film, study game charts, look back at bullpen plans, and ultimately dig down and find the roots of what is really happening. You might find it is several things, and they will all need to be corrected if this area is to see any kind of improvement. It will take some time, but it will ultimately save time by going right to the heart of what is causing the issue and fixing it. Now that you have a clear list of things to work on and how to make those corrections, you have to start looking at the delivery of the message, and if this can be better. When I first had the opportunity to be a coach with the Great Britain National team, I asked a dear friend, (NFCA Hall of Famer an Softball Excellence owner) Cindy Bristow, for advice. Her response was simple, but very helpful: “Just be yourself. It is working great for you so far.” As a young coach, it can be easy to try to be someone else, especially someone who is very successful. The key is to learn from others, but show your players you are genuine and
yourself. Once you feel comfortable in your own skin, you can start to see areas of improving your delivery, now that it is your own and not someone else’s. This past season, I learned that I wasn’t always explaining enough the why of things to the players I coach. I realized that I was being misunderstood in several areas, simply because the players I was coaching needed more why and background information to perform the skill or understand the concept. I had the background knowledge, but they did not, and, as a result, it left gaps and struggles for them that I never intended. I STARTED GIVING more background information for what I was teaching, and the response was great. I was still myself in the way I taught the skill, but I learned that the delivery could be better. As you seek to find ways to improve your delivery, think back on areas your team struggled, and ask yourself if a better delivery of the information could help them better execute the skills you were trying to teach. The last area of this might be the most important. When I interviewed for my job, I was asked what my strengths and weaknesses were. A typical question for every interview. My response was simple. I said I view weaknesses as an opportunity for growth and then I listed a few
Megan Brown is an assistant coach at Boston College. She earned her doctorate in kinesiology from Auburn University and was a threetime All-America pitcher at Florida Southern College, earning Hall of Fame induction for both her alma mater and the Sunshine State Conference. After college, Brown played in National Pro Fastpitch from 2007-09 and competed in Europe from 2010-13.
areas I was working on improving. We all have areas we need to be better as coaches, but it can be easy to lose sight of personal growth. As coaches, we pour into our team and players so much that we can become run down and overwhelmed. During the summer, it is important to take time to make sure we are not just surviving, but thriving as coaches and people. There are many areas for growth and development as coaches. Hopefully, these can be a starting point for great preparation that will lead to great success in the coming years.
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Top Recruit, the NFCA’s annual youth magazine, is now available. Check out this year’s edition online at NFCA.org and make sure to share the web link with your players, camp attendees or anyone that’s getting set to choose or attend college, is already there, or wants to be better.
COVERING THE BASES
Drills to optimize a hitter’s weight transfer By BARB KUTCH Baseball and Softball Instructor Vital to optimizing a hitter’s potential is power development. Developing power during hitting requires a large amount of lower body involvement. This movement requires a significant weight shift
toward the pitch at the right time. No longer does the back foot need to stay on the ground throughout the swing. During the weight shift, the back foot may actually come off the ground. In fact, forcing the back foot to stay grounded throughout the swing may actually limit the weight shift and cause a hanging back look
and feel to the swing. With hitting, the lead foot contacts the ground and the hands load back. In hitting, this gets labeled as the separation required to trigger. After this moment, the hips lead the swing. This movement requires a large drive onto the lead leg, with a rotational component. For years, the cue “squash the bug” has been used to direct hitters to pivot around their back leg. However, that limits the amount of weight transfer forward (into the ball), and can cause spinning off the ball, limited power transfer, and an overall decreased hitting pop potential. While technique drills can help younger athletes develop the motor pattern not to rotate around the back leg, “feel” drills are often more beneficial for older athletes. The following drills can be labeled as “feel” drills, as they help assist the hitter into the powerful forward weight shift for positive feedback of how it should feel. In short, this list of drills facilitates an optimal weight transfer without sacrificing the bug: Cone at back foot With the batter positioned at a tee with a ball in their stance, place a cone next to the outer edge of their back foot. The hitter takes a full swing at the ball off the tee. The goal is for the hitter to hit a line drive with a strong weight shift forward without knocking over the cone. If the hitter “squashes the bug,” the rotation of their back foot will knock the cone over. A weight shift will leave the back foot with the heel up without the spinning effect. This drill can also be used with soft and front toss to further carry over the skill to game situations. Skaters Again, at a tee with a ball, the hitter assumes their normal stance.
Barb Kutch was a four-year softball player at Stockton University before serving as a graduate assistant for two years. In her senior season, she was named an Academic All-American. She graduated from Stockton Unversity with her doctorate in physical therapy in 2010, and is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach. She is a baseball and softball instructor in New Jersey. She also continues to play baseball and softball.
The batter then takes a skater jump forward. This a lateral jump. A right-handed athlete will jump to the left and land on their left foot. This movement carries the hitter toward the pitcher some. The batter then will skater jump back, with the right leg toward the catcher. From this final jump, the hitter swings. Ideally, this drill will teach the athlete’s body how to produce addition power from the benefits of the plyometric jumps involved. Additionally, it generates the forward weight shift needed. When done properly, it is nearly impossible to spin on the back foot. Medicine ball throw For this drill, all the hitter needs is a light medicine ball. For younger athletes, a basketball will work as well. The hitter assumes their stance with both hands on the ball. The ball is placed over the thigh of their back leg. The goal of the hitter is to throw SEE DRILLS PAGE 19
Transitioning from college to summer ball By JOHN BENNETT Longtime Umpire I am writing this article the Monday after the NCAA Division I softball Super Regionals were played. Because of the proliferation of college softball games on television, many people not associated with college softball are watching the games. Most of the rules for college are similar to other codes (i.e. USA Softball, NFHS, PGF, USSSA) but there are differences. You may see some rulings during the college postseason which may be different than the correct ruling for the games played during the “summer season” in the abovementioned codes. There are so many differences in the rules that they cannot be listed in one article, so let’s concentrate on the major ones. Pitching The positioning of the pitcher’s feet on the pitcher’s plate is slightly different for high school than the other codes. For NCAA, USA Softball, PGF and USSSA, both feet must be in contact with the pitcher’s plate; the non-pivot foot must remain in contact before beginning the step forward. In NFHS, the pivot foot must be on or partially on the top surface of the plate, and the non-pivot foot in contact with or behind the plate. The pitcher may step backward with the non-pivot foot prior to the start of the pitch. The time allowed between pitches for all codes except college is 20 seconds. The NCAA rule is a bit more complicated. The pitcher must be on the pitcher’s plate within 10 seconds after receiving the ball from the catcher from the previous pitch or when the umpire declares “play ball.” Then
the pitcher has 10 seconds to bring the hands together. Once the hands are together, the pitcher has five seconds to release the pitch. Dirt is considered to be a foreign substance in college, so it must be wiped off if the pitcher touches it between pitches. In all other codes, dirt need not be wiped off, but a pitcher may not apply dirt directly to the ball. NFHS implemented a new rule this year which allows the defense to intentionally walk the batter without throwing pitches. Once the request is made, the ball is dead, and no runners can advance. This has removed the popular play of a batter-runner advancing to second base on a base on balls to create an opportunity for a runner at third to advance. In all other codes, the pitcher must still legally deliver the pitches. There is also a difference for the time allowed between innings for the teams to be ready to start the next half-inning. In all codes except college, the defense has no more than one minute to deliver not more than five warmup pitches. In college, there is no time limit; however, a new media format rule shall be used in all televised games, or may be used by mutual agreement between the two teams or by conference or tournament policy. The media format time limit is two minutes between innings, but may be shortened. Batting The strike zone is VERY different in NCAA, and I wonder how many fans know this. When a coach questions me on a ball or strike call at the top of the zone, I am tempted to ask the coach exactly what defines the top of the strike zone in college. But proper umpire etiquette and my training discourage that type of comment. The definition of the top of the
college zone uses a non-visible part of the batter’s body, “… the bottom of the sternum …” and the top of the ball must be on or within that horizontal plane. In all other codes, the top of the zone is defined as the armpits AND includes any part of the ball. Batters playing under Junior Olympic USA Softball rules (18U and below) must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box between pitches. This is not true for the other codes. Another rule difference is what the batter can and cannot do with regard to being hit by a pitch. In USA Softball, the batter must attempt to avoid the pitch regardless of its location. In the other codes, if the pitch is entirely in the batter’s box, no attempt to avoid is required. If the pitch is not entirely in the box, the batter must make an attempt to avoid. In all codes, it is umpire’s judgment as to whether the batter refused to avoid, or just froze when the pitch approached her. A not-well-known rule for a bunt attempt being called a strike is this: In USA Softball, the batter must actually move the bat toward the ball for a strike to be called. In the other codes, merely holding the bat in the strike zone is considered a bunt attempt. And the big difference, introduced by the NCAA rule book for 201819, is for an illegally batted ball. In all codes except college, the batter’s entire foot (either one) must be completely outside the lines of the batter’s box at the time of pitch/
John Bennett is a veteran umpire and umpire trainer with extensive experience working high school, travel, college and professional games. He has umpired at multiple NAIA National Championship Series, NCAA Division I Regionals and Super Regionals, and NCAA Division II National Championships. He is currently serving on the staff of the NCAA Softball Umpire Program as the Training and Video Coordinator and is a past chair of the NFCA Rules and Officials Committee.
bat contact for an illegally batted ball. In college, any part of a foot touching the ground outside the box at the moment of pitch/bat contact constitutes a violation. Fielding On a force play, when the fielder traps the thrown ball on the ground in USA Softball or NCAA games, it is considered a trapped ball and no catch. The fielder must raise the glove off the ground to show control
HAVE A RULES QUESTION OR A TOPIC YOU WANT ADDRESSED?
SEE TRANSITIONING PAGE 19
Get your rules questions and topics answered from an umpire’s perspective by emailing longtime umpire and rules expert John Bennett at email@example.com. Selected questions and topics will be addressed in future editions of Rules Corner in Fastpitch Delivery.
STANTON STICKS WITH WHAT WORKS AT INDIANA CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12 wants to be at their best. “We had kids hitting a buck s omet h i n g h i t t i n g w a lkoffs,” Stanton said. “(It was) about what are you doing right now.” That type of finish has Stanton and her coaching staff, which includes longtime assistants Chanda Bell and Kendall Fearn, as well as former Marshall standout Morgan Zerkle (now an Indiana graduate assistant), Michelle Huber and Jake Combs excited about what’s coming next season in Bloomington. “I’m so proud of team 45,” Stanton said. “We wanted to identify what we
DRILLS TO OPTIMIZE WEIGHT TRANSFER FOR HITTERS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 the ball from this position into a net in front of them. The batter should make their usual trigger prior to this movement, to replicate their trunk and lower body movements from the swing. Again, the ball will be thrown forcefully into a net toward the middle of the infield, generating a forward weight shift. If the bug is squashed, the hitter has not completed a full weight shift and is “hanging back” on their swing. Shuffle to the tee This is the equivalent to a running start. Set up a tee with a ball 5-10 feet in front of the hitter on the line with the pitcher. The hitter starts behind the tee 5-10
were about. Our only goal this year was to have the seniors be proud of the decision they made to be at Indiana. If you have an expectation where you have to be at a certain point (by a certain time), you limit yourselves.” “ Ye a r t w o i s g o i n g t o b e about getting better and raising expectations.” Their first season at Indiana validated what they knew all along — that their style of play works, whether its Conference USA or the Big 10. Good coaching is successful anywhere. “My staff and I relish being able to coach against great coaches,” Stanton said. “Anytime there’s a change, it’s Shonda Stanton’s faith in the process helped Indiana flourish. Photo courtesy Indiana Athletics. exciting. It was neat getting back to Stanton said its important to keep She said their playing style had teaching (our) system.” learning, whether that knowledge become so ingrained at Marshall that the upperclassmen did much of the comes from a fellow coach or a teaching of their system to the new player. feet. The hitter is then cued to shuffle players before the coaches even had “Every year I think I’m a wayto the tee and swing. The hitter is a chance. Stanton said the coaches better coach than the year before,” looking to generate the momentum can learn from the players, too. she said. “We know who we are. down the pitch line to facilitate a “I allow these student-athletes to We’re about building strong, posiweight shift into the ball. tive women.” teach me,” she admitted. Similar to the previous drills, the goal is for a line drive off the tee without the rotation pivot on the back difference among the codes is where TRANSITIONING FROM leg. to place the other runners when this COLLEGE TO SUMMER BALL happens. Downhill tee In college, the runners are CONTINUED FROM PAGE 18 This drill requires a baseball returned to the base occupied at pitcher’s mound. Place a tee and before the runner gets to the base. the time of the pitch. In the other ball on the slope for the hitter to hit If this happens in a high school codes, they are placed on the last towards home plate, hence downhill. game, it is considered control if legally touched base at the time of If the hitter pivots to squash the bug, the fielder demonstrates control by the infraction. they will generate minimal power. turning the glove/mitt upward with Courtesy runners are allowed It will be obvious immediately. By the ball in it, even if such control is in all codes except NCAA. The swinging on the downhill plane, the shown after the runner has reached regulations covering the Look Back hitter is forced into a forward weight the base. rule is different among the codes, shift. and this subject was the main subject Running of my May 2018 column. Again, the hitter will need to be It is a rule violation when a batterNext month we will continue cued to prevent beating the ball into the ground, due to the different runner steps back on her way to first this discussion of the major rule base to avoid or delay a tag. The differences. angle.
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