First-Pitch Changeup? Blast it!


There are so many “Baseballism’s” that float around the softball field that I want to cry some days! Most of them are founded in solid logic and some good strategies. Others, I just don’t agree with. The first of several is:


Never hit a first-pitch changeup.


Now, I get this in baseball. You don’t have very many choices in baseball, so every pitcher will almost always throw you a fastball at some point in every at bat. In baseball, fastball equals straight pitch. Common sense tells us that a straight pitch is going to be easier to hit than a ball that breaks. If you can count on getting a straight pitch, why not wait?


In fastpitch softball, the pitcher never throws a straight pitch!!


At least at the highest levels, pitchers have many options of which pitch to throw. The ball can break in four different directions and the rise ball is the wild card that baseball will never have to deal with. Since all pitches in fastpitch softball are breaking pitches then the old baseball idea of avoiding the breaking ball falls apart!


The softball pitcher does throw a slower pitch, the changeup. Again, it is likely to move but it is much slower. Common sense, again, tells me a slower pitch is easier to hit than a faster one. You get more time to see the ball and, thus adjust enough, to hit it hard.


If a pitcher throws you a first-pitch changeup that’s over the plate, why would you not want to hit it?


Come on experts, I’m waiting to be convinced! I’m waiting! I’m still waiting! No responses? Dang!!


She just threw your ball that is likely to break less, moving slower, giving you more time to read the ball and hit it. Why not hit it into the trees?


We often try to say that we didn’t want to hit the first-pitch changeup, but in reality we weren’t ready to hit it. If we had been ready to hit it, it would still be in orbit! So I believe this ballpark classic is just as much a rationalization as it is a strategy. 


Not wanting to hit a pitch that is inherently easier to hit, as long as I’m prepared to hit, is just faulty logic! If something just doesn’t make sense it has to be a bad strategy!


About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.