The Saga of Rebuilding a School Program: A parent-coach's journal

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Jan 25, 2022
Played our first regular season game on Monday, vs a perennial power. I really was expecting a 3 inning blowout, but our defense played very well overall and the girls lasted 4.5 innings. I think we had 2 errors. The hitting was pretty rough, but there was a bit of contact. DD pitched the last bit of the game.

Last night was game 2, vs a team I've never seen. We started out halfway solid on defense, but things managed to fall apart some and they gradually chipped away at us and although we had a lot more contact, we still just didn't get enough hits strung together to do much damage. Ended up being a 5 inning game. DD pitched the last inning. She batted twice in each game. 2 strikeouts, a walk, and put one in play and was thrown out. She's making a lot of foul contact and such, so I think she'll hit her stride soon.

Brand new kid just about hit one OTF. I believe it was her 4th ever at-bat. I'm expecting moon shots from that kid soon.

Got two games coming up Saturday, then a game monday and tuesday.
Jan 25, 2022
We're 7 games in at this point, and sitting at 3-4. The girls have finally started making good contact, and we've had big improvement in our bunting game. We have a couple girls setup at 9 and 1 slots that just unabashedly go for it whether the defense covers or not. They've put them on the ground, in the air, pushed up the middle, etc. It's created chaos, and they're both fast enough that they usually get to 1B and steal their way to 3B.

DD got two hits and a ROE in a double header two saturdays ago, then 2 solid hits two games later. She's putting the ball in play quite a bit now.

For pitching, she started the first game of the doubleheader and pitched for contact as instructed. Only ended up giving up 4 hits to a pretty weak team in their 15-4 win. Pitcher #1 started Thursday against a team we could compete with, and we managed to get that win in a nailbiter. DD also got her first start at 3B and played well. I don't recall anything coming her way, but she did her job overall.

DD started Friday against what is probably the best team in the region. We lost 15-0, but oddly enough, she didnt give up a ton of hard contact. Most of the hits were junk. They probably aren't used to seeing 47mph I guess. The majority of the runs were scored off errors. The defense really struggled in the first inning and gave up 10, but after that they got it shored up and played a solid game. They seem to be getting better and better as they get experience and the lineups are tweaked a bit.

County rival is tonight. Expecting a win is still a little ambitious because of their pitching staff, but I'd like to see us play a full game. We haven't beaten them in something like 10 years, but they haven't run-ruled us in a couple years, which I think is an accomplishment considering how things restarted in 2021.
Jan 25, 2022
So, we got whipped in 4 innings. Lots of errors on easy plays, which were mostly in the second inning. Every time we play at their field it's terrible. There's always anxiety because it's our county rival, but we haven't been on a level to compete with them in such a long time that I don't see why it should even make our kids nervous. Our pitcher threw hard and threw well, and they got their hits on her, but we just missed too many opportunities to end innings. They're still sorting things out, but playing nowhere near their potential. When the defense in practice shows up consistently in games, we'll be much more competitive. We're seeing flashes of it, and it's fun to watch.

JV game was similar, but we do play several brand-new kids so it's to be expected. DD pitched. She walked a few early, but got it sorted. She's really starting to get better at getting herself out of trouble. She hasn't gotten into a walkfest yet. That's real growth, although she doesn't seem to understand that. I've also noticed her coaching on the field, making sure to let the new ones know where to go. Last night with runners on 1 and 2 she called out to the brand new 3B "if it comes to you, step on the bag, and if it's hit on this side, cover the bag." I'm not even sure if 3B heard her, but 10 seconds later the coach calls out the same thing. I see her doing that more and more. She does it in varsity as well, but with the JV kids I think she sees them as more of a need to help them out. As I've told her so many times, a JV game is usually a comedy of errors, but it's an opportunity to get game reps and at the very least, improve her own skill set. So, I see leadership.

She also expressed a week ago that she intends not to play next year. Of course, then she gets her first start on defense (and again last night) and has a renewed fire for it. I think she's just been feeling the grind for so long and not feeling like it's getting her anywhere, and I totally understand that. She said she wants to get a job and move-on. There are really just a few phases of life between 15 and college that I think really prepare someone for life in "the real world." Sports and getting a job to pay your own way are two of those. I can't be unhappy with her growing as a person.

The grind and time suck of softball takes up a lot of her time and a lot of my brain and physical activity as well. I get excited for the season, and about three games in I'm already feeling the stress of it and look forward to it being over. Then I can go back to worrying about her pitching readiness and spend the next 8 months prodding her to practice and being assaulted by eye rolling and whining. I love the kid endlessly, but she wears me out with that stuff. I am far from militant about that kind of thing. I give tons of flexibility in schedule, etc.

Personally, I intend to keep working with pitchers. It's something I really enjoy and I want to get better at it and continue with it indefinitely. We'll just have to see how it all shakes out. I may have already mentioned this, but if she decides to keep playing I'm going to take her to another Pauly certified instructor about 45 minutes from here. I think we could make a great team for her. He just has a lot more experience than I do, which would be a great opportunity for me to learn, plus that dad/daughter dynamic won't be in his lessons to muddle things up.
Jan 25, 2022
Just a follow-up post here. Our state has all the Hs stats, game by game, season totals, records, and RPI. I follow the region a lot. I was looking at stats for DD's start against the great hitting team, and she only gave up 6 hits, and 5 ER for the 15 runs given up. She did have 5 walks, but i think most were in the first inning. She got it straightened out. I looked at our opponent's games, and she had the second best results so far. And she's the only pitcher who hasn't given up a HR.

I think DD's combination of slower pitching that unintentionally varies 3-4mph pitch to pitch and is all over the place, was something they couldn't quite dial into. She had 0 strikeouts but was creating a ton of junk contact. Unfortunately the D was really struggling. Would we have won the game if the D was perfect? No way. But I think it could easily have gone 7 innings, which is a moral victory against teams that good.

Side note...their fans and players crushed the concessions stand. I have no idea how many cheese fries we sold. It was a great night for the boosters account. Haha.
Jan 25, 2022
Just stick with it! It may take a bit but one day your team will be one of the top dogs.
I think we'll find our groove in a few more games. I'd just like to go .500 again as we did last season. Girls are starting to make a lot more contact at that plate, and with contact comes more contact. The mental aspect of hitting is crazy.
Jan 25, 2022
P1 was sick, so DD got the start on Wednesday vs a team we expected to keep up with, and most likely beat.

They started hitting right away. Lucky gap rollers through the infield, mostly. They had hardly and then we struggled on defense again and they ran away with it. We hit decently and got 6 runs, but their defense was mostly solid. DD gave up quite a few hits and we got whipped. Just more evidence to show that average hitting teams will fare better against DD.

I'd say when we play them again and P1 starts, we'll keep up just fine if our defense plays well. DD did manage to go 2 for 3 at the plate. The goal for this year is to bat .300. She's currently at .286 and seems to continue to get better. She's a completely different hitter vs last year or any year prior.

Had a game this past thursday and pulled out the win. Defense played well. I believe the score ended up at 7-4.

The record currently stands at 4-6. Next game is on the 4th against a team that generally struggles a lot. This season has been so odd up to this point, though, that we really have to be extra careful with everyone. We only played the once last year, and only won by 1 run.
Dec 10, 2015
Chautauqua County
We had a onfield practice yesterday with the D3 team, focusing on D. I saw trailing runners unaccounted for, bad throws because they hurried when they didn't need to, OF not backing throws (this is my area and it was handled with just a few questions), unforced errors, you get the picture, eh? My point is that D errors and misplays result in big innings and teams beating themselves. Personally, in my past coaching days, I would stop practices as many times as needed and explain the correct way of playing a situation and WHY it needs to be done that way. I also chattered the whole game on reminding players about situations for our D. So I repeat, as long as you work on getting more informed about the nuts and bolts of D, the better you can teach it. The overarching goal is to keep runners of the bases and when they do get on, keep them from advancing to home. Teach your D when to throw it to where and why.

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