Pulling a pitcher is always a difficult decision for a coach to make. You’re considering the short-term impact on the game you are playing and trying to balance that with the long-term effect it could have on the pitcher you are pulling.
That, as they say, is where it gets sticky.
Depending on the team and situation, whether a coach has a quick hook or a long leash will vary greatly. In a must-win bracket game, a coach would be much more likely to pull a pitcher who is struggling. The same coach might give the same pitcher a lot more room to work out of a jam or find her rhythm if it was a pool game.
For the sake of full disclosure, I’m the coach who yanked a freshman pitcher out in the 7th inning, of a non-conference game, where she had just given up her first hit. Yes, that’s right, her first hit, and I was very compassionate when I told her to give me the “damn ball”.
Now, that pitcher Bonnie Bynum, went on to become one of the best pitchers I ever coached, so she responded well in the long run. But I’m sure was cursing me that day!
Pitchers and their parents almost always think they can work their way out of it, but that doesn’t always mean that allowing the pitcher to try to work her way out is what is best for the team.
Coaches, you need to be clear in your philosophy. You must talk to your pitchers about your expectations and when or why you might have to pull them out of a game. You can also let them know when you might allow them more time to sort things out. The bottom line is that they understand the thinking behind your decisions.
Pitchers, and parents, you must understand that when a coach pulls you out of a game it isn’t personal. It’s meant to give the team its best chance to win that day. I know it’s difficult but you need to turn it into a challenge rather than an attack. No one can steal your self confidence but you.
Learn from getting pulled from a game and use it to make you better the next time. Guess what? There will be a next time!