Great pitchers find a way to get the hitters off-balance. This can be with a change-up, or with the location of their pitches.
Yes, it’s easy to spot a great pitcher with a knee buckling change-up and see why she is successful. But often ]it isn’t the speed of the change-up, as much as the deception of the pitcher’s motion. The motion remains the same, but the ball comes to the plate much slower.
However, not all great pitchers deceive the hitter with a devastating change up. Look at Florida’s Kelly Barnhill, the 2017 National Player of the Year, for example. She might have a decent change-up, but her success comes her ability to use location to disrupt the hitters timing. She can locate a up up at the hitters hands to speed up the reaction time or low and away to slow it down.
Different pitch locations make hitters choose different contact points to hit the ball. What Kelly does so well is get hitters to try to hit the ball at the wrong point of contact. That leads to miss hits and swing and misses.
Of course, a pitcher as talented as Kelly Barnhill has many things that contribute to her success. I do think though, that we often overlook how well she mixes locations to disrupt the hitters timing as one of the keys.
Many great hitters talk about how hitting is timing. Well, if we assume that is true then they are giving us a pretty big hint about how to get them out.
About the Author: Cat Fritts (Hosfield) was four-year standout at the University of Tennessee, She went 49-22 with a 2.91 ERA in her career for the Vols, earning Southeastern Conference (SEC) Freshman Player of the Week honors in 2009, while also earning SEC Honor Roll accolades following the ’10, ’11 and ’12 seasons at UT. She was named the 2008 National High School Player of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) while at Murfreesboro High School.
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