Great mechanics with a perfect arm circle? Yes, of course!
A fastball that is so accurate I can pinpoint where I throw it? You betcha!
My change up breaks the backs of great hitters? Uh huh!
My drop ball is so heavy it digs a trench if it hits the dirt? You know it!
Well, now that we can all agree that the above pitcher has three pitches we can enter into the discussion of the next pitch. We have a fastball that we can hit our spots with enough velocity to challenge the hitter’s timing. We have added a great changeup that has completely messed with the hitter’s timing. And, for good measure, we have added a drop ball that creates ground balls at will.
So where do we go from here? In a perfect world, I would move to the rise ball next because now that we have a pitch that moves down through the zone, a ball that moves up would be devastating. But we have to take a pause on the rise ball for one very simple reason:
A real rise ball is so difficult to throw we are going to wait until we have built a much more complete tool box of pitches. So rise ball, you’re coming but not quite yet.
My next choice is the curve ball. It moves east to west or west to east depending on if the pitcher is right- or left-handed. The idea of the curve ball is that it spins away from the hitter. It spins on a flat plane so it moves across the hitting zone.
Most pitchers use the curve to get the hitter to miss hit the ball and get weakly hit balls. A great curve ball isn’t likely to be a strike-out pitch for most pitchers. but it can be an effective out pitch because the ball is difficult to hit with the sweet spot of the bat.
The curve ball requires the pitcher to get her hand underneath the ball and spin the ball tightly across her body as she releases the ball. Again, much more on the techniques of the pitches later.
What is the downfall of the curve ball? Because it spins on a flat plane, if it doesn’t spin well enough to move, it can be hit very hard. Some pitchers also start the curve ball too far from the hitter and the ball moves so far off the plate that it will not be called a strike. More importantly, it never looks like a strike to the hitter.
There is a secondary version of the curveball, called the backdoor curve. But let’s get one thing straight, the backdoor curveball is a curveball. The backdoor version is thrown at a hitter and then the ball spins away from the hitter and into the strike zone. It can be very effective because it makes the hitter uncomfortable because it looks like the ball may hit them.
Congratulations, if you have added the curveball to your list of pitches you now have FOUR pitches. Sorry, the backdoor curve doesn’t give you an extra pitch. Stop begging.
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.