Great mechanics? Of, course!
Pinpoint accuracy with your fastball? No, doubt!
Change up that laughs at the hitter when she misses it? You bet!
Drop ball that falls off the table? Gotcha!
Curve ball that breaks so well that hitters can only hope to square it up? Certainly!
So, if we have checked all of the above boxes, what’s next? Every great mechanic has a wide variety of tools in the tool box just like a great pitcher will feel the desire to have more tools at their disposal.
If you have the four pitches we’ve already discussed, you’re off to a great start. You have a lot of tools that will allow you to stymie an awful lot of hitters. But having more tools (pitches) is like having money in the bank — no matter how much you have, you always want more.
The next pitch I would suggest learning would be the screw ball. There are qualifiers to this pitch. There’s been a great deal of discussion as to whether a true screwball even exists in our game.
Many great pitching instructors believe that you can throw a ball that spins aggressively in on the hands of a right-handed hitter when thrown by a right-handed pitcher. Many others believe the screw ball is a myth and the pitch that breaks on this path is more of a cut fast ball than a screw ball.
Whether you believe in the validity of the true screw ball or not, any pitch that we want to classify as a screw ball must break on a flat plane going either east or west depending on whether the pitcher is right or left handed. The wrist needs to snap around the top of the ball to create the spin needed to make the ball break on a flat plane.
A legitimate screw-ball spin is difficult to achieve and sometimes has the same characteristics of the rise ball. Which leads to screw/rise hybrid that Michele Smith called the “Scrise” on ESPN a couple years ago.
The bottom line is that if you are able to throw a true screw ball you now have FIVE pitches. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I don’t count the “Scrise” as a pitch. Two pitches that are combined and done poorly can not be turned into a moral victory of mediocrity! Two wrongs never make a right!
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.