USA National Team Takes Silver in 2015 Pan American Games Softball

Team USA Silver 2015 Pan Am Games

Photo by ASA/USA Softball


“USA National Team takes Silver to Canada in 2015 Pan American Games Softball” Written By Bill Plummer

In past Pan American Games softball competition, the USA women’s team had dominated. Since softball was added to the Pan American Games in 1979, the USA had won the gold medal eight times and was trying for its ninth Pan Am title recently in Toronto, Canada.

The USA had defeated Canda twice, 7-0 and 5-2, in the round robin competition and were the odds-on favorite to win another gold medal. But sometimes the best laid plans go astray, and a team favored ends up losing. In this case, the USA National Team, which suffered a 4-2 loss to host Canada.

Since 1979, Canada and the USA had met 22 times in the Pan Am Games with the USA winning 20 of the games. The only losses came this year and in 1983 when Canada won its first women’s gold with a 5-4 win over the USA. In 13 of the 22 games Canada was shutout including a 7-0 defeat this year.

The Gold medal win is the Canadian Women’s Softball Team’s first since 1983, ending a run of seven consecutive for the United States. It also comes on the heels of a pair of Gold medals won by the Canadian Men’s Softball Team who were crowned WBSC Men’s World Softball Champions in Saskatoon three weeks ago and Pan American Games Champions in Ajax last week.

The two wins by the men and the gold medal by the women’s team caps an outstanding year and couldn’t have come at a better time with this year the 50th anniversary of Softball Canada.

The game was scoreless through seven innings and each team had six hits in the game. In the eighth, however, Canada scored four times collecting half of their hits and three runs off former Alabama ace Jaclyn Traina, who hurled two innings. Sara Nevins had started for the USA and allowed three hits and no runs through four and two-third innings before Jessica Moore hurled an inning and one third before Traina replaced her.

For Canada, Sara Groenewegen went the distance and allowed six hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in eight innings.

She hurled 123 pitches and 79 of them were strikes. Traina hurled 51 pitches with 34 strikes, Moore 12 and eight and Nevins 73 and 49. The USA left seven runners on base while Canada stranded six.

“It’s tough to coach against good fortune,” said Head Coach Ken Eriksen (Tampa, Fla.). “We hit the ball really well today, just couldn’t catch any breaks. When you hit the ball right at them, it’s hard to make things happen. Unfortunate things happened for us while fortunate things happened for them.”

It was a pitcher’s duel through the majority of the game as USA’s starter Nevins (Pinellas Park, Fla.) retired Canada in order to start the game while Canada’s Groenewegen returned the favor in the bottom half of the frame. The first runner of the game would get on in the bottom of the second inning as Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) hit a two-out single but was thrown out in an attempt to leg it out into a double.

The U.S. would get a leadoff runner on in the bottom of the third as Janelle Lindvall (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.) hit a hard ground ball that sneaked by the third baseman but a pair of fly outs and stolen base attempt kept the U.S. from dealing any damage to keep the game scoreless through three complete innings. Canada would get their first base runner in the top of the fourth inning on a two-out single by Kaleigh Rafter, but a fly ball to Moultrie in left field kept the runner from advancing.

Two runners would get on base for Team USA in the bottom of the fourth inning as Raven Chavanne (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) reached on a bunt and advanced to second base on a line drive by Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.). With two on and one out, a hard hit fly ball to centerfield recorded the second out before Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif.) roped a line drive that the first baseman leaped up to snag for out number three. The U.S. would get another two on base in the bottom of the sixth as Chavanne reached on an error by the shortstop and a two-out walk to Gibson, but another deep fly ball from Arioto kept the game scoreless heading into the final inning.

Both sides would get runners on base in the seventh inning but failed to plate any runs to push the game into extra-innings. With the ITB rule in effect, Canada started the top of the eighth with a runner on second base. The first batter would reach on an error by the defense to put two on with no outs before a ground out to Romero at third advanced the runners a base. An intentional walk loaded the bases before Canada pushed across the first runs of the game with a hard hit two-run single from Joey Lye. With runners on second and third, an intentional walk to Rafter loaded the bases for the second time in the inning with one out. A sac-fly pushed across another run for Canada before a two-out single plated the final run for Canada to give them the 4-0 lead.

Down by four runs, Team USA started with Kellie Fox (San Diego, Calif.) on second base per the ITB rule. A walk to Haylie McCleney (Morris, Ala.) put two on with no outs before Chavanne dropped in a fly ball single to left field to plate Fox to close the lead to 4-1. Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) advanced the runners with grounder to the third baseman before Gibson collected an RBI on a ground out to second base. With two outs and a runner on third, a walk to Arioto put runners on the corner, but a strikeout drew the game to a close with Canada earning their second Pan American Games Gold.

“It’s disappointing but our team was in it all the way until the end and that’s all you can ask for,” said Moultrie. “We didn’t give up and we were still in the game. We’re disappointed, but still very proud of our team. We’re still building and in years to come this will be a good learning experience for us.”

Three U.S. pitchers saw time in the circle today with Nevins compiling five strikeouts while allowing just three hits through four and two-third innings pitched. Moore (Sutter, Calif.) entered in relief in the middle of the fourth, recording two strikeouts through one and one-third innings pitched. Traina (Naples, Fla.) suffered the loss, issuing one strikeout through two innings of work.

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The Fastpitch Book

20 Great Coaches Give 20 Great Tools

The Fastpitch Book

The Fastpitch Book Compiled By Gary Leland

I reached out to my personal contacts list of coaches and asked each of them to submit their advice from their combined years of experience in fastpitch softball. I knew the advice and knowledge they would share could help everyone improve their game throughout their fastpitch softball career.

This book was then compiled of 20 of the best articles written by 20 great fastpitch softball coaches from around the nation. It also includes several bonus tips from many other professional coaches. This information is meant to give insight and thought processes in the game of fastpitch softball. Many tools and techniques behind what it takes to build a successful team. Gary does not state any of the advice is right or wrong, but is meant to give you many different coaches and parents thoughts on the subject.

Click Here To Buy The Fastpitch Book in Paperback

Here is the list of all the great contributors and what they wrote:

  • Aaron Weintraub – Mental Toughness Healthy Perspective
  • Bryan Burrows Ingalis – A New Approach to Catcher Training
  • Charity Butler – Confidence Coaching
  • Charlie Dobbins – A Completely Different Ball Game
  • Darrick Brown – Work + Love + Faith = Success
  • Joni Frei – Program Design and Implementation
  • Kaci Clark Zerbe – Popular Myth of Pitching in College
  • Keri Casas – The Hell Week Pitching Workout
  • Laura Berg – The Mindset of an Outfielder
  • Lisa Iancin – The Moment
  • Meagan Denny-White – Pitching With A Purpose
  • Michele Martin Diltz – Competitive Training
  • Mitch Alexander – Pressure Cooker
  • Rita Lynn Gilman – Double Ball Drills
  • Rob Crews – 7 Phases of Visual Mechanics
  • Shannon McDougall – Periodization, Yearly Training Plan
  • Shannon Murray – Pitcher Mental Toughness
  • Dr. Sherry Werner – DO’s / DON’Ts for Windmill Pitchers
  • Stacie Mahoe – How Extra Work Makes a Difference
  • Venus Taylor – Creating the Championship Culture
  • Bonus Chapter – 30 More Great Tips

Good luck reaching for your next championship!

Click Here To Buy The Fastpitch Book in Paperback
Click Here To Get The eBook for Kindle (Coming Soon)

The Fastpitch TV’s Facebook Family consists of over 100,000 members. The majority of these are Travel Ball coaches, and parents. Become a part of the Fastpitch TV Facebook Family located at Facebook.com/FastpitchTV.

Brought to you by Gary Leland publisher of the Fastpitch Softball TV Network. Gary’s teams won the 14 and under, and the 15 and under Texas USSSA State championships back to back. His teams came in fourth and fifth in the USSSA National Championships for 14 under, and 15 under. Now he spends his time creating fastpitch softball blogs, books, videos, and podcasts. Fastpitch Softball is not only Gary’s passion, it is his full time job.

The Fastpitch Book is available now in paperback for only $19.95 – The Fastpitch Book

 

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Measurement of Success

FPTVArticle

“Mesurement of Success” Written By Shannon McDougall

When you think of the word success in the context of sports, the first thing that most times comes to mind is winning. The first question that most people will ask when you told them you were just playing or coaching a game is “Did you win?”

I believe there are numerous ways to measure success. Yes the outcome of a game is one way however when we can include the successes that make us a better player and a better person on the field you have to think at the end of the day they will bring you success in as many ways as winning a game will. Here are some things to consider:

  • Improved Softball Skills
  • The ability to use sport skills off the field

Improved Softball Skills

We all have a starting point at the beginning of the season in softball.  We may be starting as a beginner way up to an advanced elite player. The thing to remember is that there are so many components of this game that there is always something that we can improve on.  Either as a coach or a player.

As a Player

If you can break down your skills and look at what you improved on and how you want to get better, it will allow you to focus on the process. There is no doubt that everyone improves on skills to some degree in a season.  It may be the precision of the skills or the ability to execute with more confidence under various conditions. When yourecall improvements, write them down in a journal so you can reflect on them and maybe even use them for planning your success for the following season.  You may need to use your coach to assist you in this activity as they are constantly observing your skills, as I am sure you are aware.

Skills Improvement Check list for Players:

  • Technical skills
  • Tactical skills
  • Mental training skills
  • Getting along with team mates
  • Relations with officials
  • Relations with the coaches
  • Coachability
  • Work ethic (focus during practices and games on working hard)
  • Self direction (ability to work hard without being told to)

As a Coach

As coaches, we need to always be reflecting back on a season and documenting the things that we want to improve on.  It may be our relations with our players, it may be our abilities to manage a game or how to ad variety to practices so that our players learn and have fun at the same time. This is our successes. We often use the scoreboard because that is what the associations and spectators or parents use.  We need to ensure that we are focusing on our coaching and leadership abilities as much as our players abilities because we are the ones that can have the most productive influence on how they improve.  As we know the number of areas that can be improved are many.  I measured my success on my teams by the number of returning players.  Yes I had successes on the scoreboard however my biggest goal was to develop players and I was very successful at that.

Some Skills to improvement checklist for Coaches:

  • organization skills
  • technical knowledge
  • tactical knowledge
  • player relations
  • mental training skills
  • mental training skills knowledge
  • relations with officials
  • relations with parents
  • physical skills knowledge

Ability to use sports skills off the field

There are so many skills from softball that can be taken off the field and into our daily lives. When we learn to interact with others during a game or practice it is much like interacting with friends or family when at school or home. When that game is an important one like in a tournament, we need the skills to be able to perform stressful conditions. How many times have you encountered stress away from the field? Have you considered using relaxation or cue words for example to get through that situation? You would be amazed at the similarities. The complexity of this sport demands that you think of at least 3 things all at one time while doing one of them. There are also many rules that need to be learned.  When you find yourself feeling like you can not learn something new at school or work, think about how many things you need to know about this game. I bet the number of things is not that different. There are 12 rules in softball but many, many more sub rules. That is a lot of information. You have to admit you are pretty smart if you can play this game.

Your Success

The main thing to remember when evaluating your season’s success is that it is YOUR success. You need to ensure that you do not compare yourself to others when considering what you have been able to achieve from the season and EVERYONE does achieve something. If you are having difficulty finding something, talk to team mates or coaches or supporters. You will find that in many leagues even officials will notice improvements because they love this game as much as we do.

Write down your successes at the end of every season and write down areas where you would like to improve. This will give you something to focus on that is not outcome oriented for the net season and something to look at when the season ends. Review them throughout the season as well to see how you are doing with them. And give yourself credit… (a high five) you have learned and done much more than you likely think you have.

Isn’t this game great!!

Lisa Fernandez Answers My 10 Questions –

Fernandez Headshot3-Time Olympian Lisa Fernandez answers my 10 Questions. Written by Gary Leland

Olympic Gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004)
Height: 5’6″
Position: Pitcher
Hometown: Long Beach, California.
School: UCLA
Graduation: 1995

 

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I started playing softball when I was 7 years old, for the little miss softball fastpitch association. Prior to that it was just sports clinic and rec ball.

Q. Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. My parents were instrumental in my career. My Father is cuban and played semi-pro baseball over there. And my Mother grew up playing slowpitch. So I was always around the game.

As I continued to grow and develop, I’d have to say Dot Richardson. She really took me to the next level. I played with her on the Brakettes, and the Nationals team. We were teammates since the early 90’s.

Q. How do you get ready for a game?

A. I’m so superstitious its crazy, from when I get up to what I eat to how I get dressed to what I watch on TV. Whatever makes me feel like I’m going to have that extra edge against my opponents.

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. Well before having children, back in the day competing was the priority, so anything that was low key. Reading books, going to movies, relaxing spending time with friends and family.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. Physically I don’t think I’m different than anyone else, but from what people have said it’s my mentality. I’ve been blessed with some physical skills, but I have pushed myself farther than most would go. To me I have a growth mindset, its about learning and maturing, and growing. Failure is nothing more than a way to inspire me to become better.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. Of course, everyone might say the championships and the medals, but for me it was the loses. I remember some heartbreaking loses that made the biggest impact on my career. I found the inner message within each one, that helped me learn what I needed to know.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. I think mental preparation is huge. I think visualization is huge. I think that’s what seperates the good from the great. Physically all these athletes are talented but it’s really the mentality thats going to show who’s going to get the job done under pressure. What do you do when no one’s watching?

Q. What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. Probably the biggest obstacle was when I was maybe 13, I was told I would never be able to pitch because my arms weren’t long enough that I wasn’t built for it. Yet once again my parents were very instrumental in teaching me work ethic and that I better make up for those differences in my mental toughness. How hard was I willing to work to be able to be the best that I can be.

Q. What is life after softball for you?

A. I’m still in it! The game is in my blood, I’m coaching at UCLA and I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Q. What was it like coming back to your Alma Mater as a coach at UCLA?

A. Well I think that’s many players dreams. There was a reason why I picked UCLA as a recruit. To me it’s the greatest institution that provides both academic excellence, and the ability to take you to the next level physically with athletic excellence. The bruin family has done so much for me, I’ve always been able to hit up the “405” and there I’ve got a place I’m welcomed with open arms.

The 2015 WCWS has been so rewarding. It’s been an honor to be here as a coach to help these students reach for their dreams.

ASA Non-Approved Bat List with Certification Marks

I have people asking me all the time for information on illegal softball bats, and which bats are currently approved. I found the ASA Non-Approved Bat List and added the file below. I hope this helps in making your next bat purchase, and don’t forget to visit Softballjunk.com to take $30 Off! Promo Code: fptv30.

ASA Softball – (February 18, 2015) This list depicts the previously ASA certified bats that failed an ASA sponsored field audit and that also carry the 2000 or 2004 ASA Certification Mark. This list is intended for informational purposes only.

ASA Non-Approved Bat List

batlist
For a complete list of approved bats go to the certified equipment section of www.asasoftball.com
Last Updated: April 11, 2014

Fastpitch Magazine

10 Things She Must Do to Stand Out on the Field


“The Top 10 Things She Must Do to Stand Out on the Field” Written By John Michael Kelly

As championship season is upon us the summer push to win and be noticed is like no other time of year. Whether you daughter and/or team is playing in a regional or national tournament, or one of the major summer showcases here are some proven tips for things your athlete MUST do to stand out from the crowd and be a difference maker, a game changer…someone every coach wants on his or her team.

Remember, if your athlete is looking to get recruited keep in mind that for a college coach this is their career, their job. Ask yourself the question, “Would I invest $100,000 to $250,000 in my daughter to play softball in my program…knowing that my job is on the line?”

Follow these 10 tips and your daughter will shine and stand out every time:

1. Hustle – This should be a “no-brainer.” Run from pre-game to the dugout; run on and off the field each inning; run back to the dugout after an out; and for gosh sakes RUN out every ball hit. Dive for balls….ALWAYS. If your athlete is on deck she should run to pick up the bat for the batter after a foul ball. Remember, hustle is a CHOICE and coaches are ALWAYS watching.hoover09cut-11

2. Attitude – This takes form as body language, using your voice on the field, cheering in the dugout. Your athlete, again, must be aware that her every move is being watched and any demonstration of frustration, anger or sadness is seen as a huge weakness and liability in the eyes of a coach. This falls under the heading of mental toughness…get some!

3. Intelligence – I call it “Softball IQ” and every coach likes to see a prospect show her knowledge for the game. Why? Because it will make the coach’s job easier; less remedial teaching allows for more advanced teaching. Have your athlete pay attention playing the game, observing the game or watching on television. How much can she learn about the game? Again, it’s always her CHOICE.

4. Superior Concentration/Focus – Softball is a game that requires immense focus and mental concentration for short bursts of time; usually less than 5 seconds. However, if your athlete cannot summon that focus the game will inevitably punish her with mistakes or due to poor decision making. In big games or bigger stages she must keep her focus in the present moment.

5. Bounce Back from Adversity – Softball is a game of failure and, more accurately, a game of overcoming failure. For your athlete to stand out she MUST be able to have a short memory and put past mistakes behind her as QUICKLY as possible. Carrying an error in the field over to her next at bat, or a poor at bat out into the field on in the circle is a recipe for disaster. Have her see a mistake as an opportunity to learn and move one step closer to game mastery instead of the end of the world!

6. Play Fearless! – Every coach wants that player who flies around the field, afraid of nothing…always giving 110% effort, trusting her decision making and her talent. Playing fearless means NO HESITATION. Coaches would prefer an athlete make a mistake as the result of playing aggressive as opposed to playing passive, unsure, afraid of making mistakes.

7. Do the Little Things Well – See #3 again. Have your athlete take pride in her game and take good leads, backup plays properly, look for the extra base, get the signs right. It is ultimately the little intangible parts of the game that only a trained coach’s eye will notice that will determine how much your athlete stands out from the crowd. Do all of the little things well and good things will happen!

8. Execute – No matter how good your athlete is at performing the other 9 tips in this email she MUST be able to execute when her number is called. However, keep in mind that coaches watching prospects don’t expect a pitcher to strike everyone out or every hitter to go 5-5. Execution has as much to do with showing the athleticism, precision, knowledge and effort in the execution of the various game tasks/skills than simply the result itself. So get the bunt down, hit behind the runner, hit the cutoff, and throw strike one.

9. Make Adjustments – As the game of softball is dynamic, meaning full of variables always changing, any athlete that wants to stand out must learn to make numerous adjustments during the game to give herself the best odds for success. These adjustment “opportunities” are everywhere: batting, fielding, base-running, pitching. Here is the key…if your athlete DOES NOT make adjustments she will never be able to play her best. So have her look for adjustments based on the ump’s strike zone, the pitcher calling, the defensive positioning, etc. All game adjustments are easier if she follows my advice in #3 and #4.

10. Love the Game – In the end your athlete will stand out simply because everyone watching her can clearly see how much she loves playing the game. Her joy, enthusiasm, and genuine desire show up in every move she makes on the diamond. Coaches love these types of players because they are easy to coach and nearly always are willing to do whatever it takes to get better and help their team to succeed. As an athlete love, appreciate and respect “the game” and you will absolutely stand out!

Well, that’s it. Ignore these 10 tips and your athlete will have a very difficult time standing out. Follow them and coaches will be lining up to recruit her to their team/program!

Thanks for reading! –John Michael Kelly