Numerous colleges and universities play fall softball. There are good reasons for doing this. In most cases the schedule is limited in the number of games played and doesn't involve a lot of travel. This is a good time for the coaches to look at incoming freshmen to determine if some of them will crack the starting lineup. It also is a good time for transfers to get to know their teammates. It also helps returning players to work on a phase of their game that needs additional work. It also allows the coaches to try different lineup combinations and put players at different positions, depending on what players were lost through graduation, and especially if the players who graduated were All-Americans.
For some schools and colleges not hit hard by graduation, the fall season is a good time for players to sharpen their skills for the upcoming season while those schools and colleges that lost veteran players through graduation the fall season can and often does play an important role in determining the starting lineup when the umpire yells “play ball” for the opening game of the season. What is done or not done can make or break a team's season and there is certainly less pressure during the fall season and is a learning experience for the players.
The fall season in some cases is the first for a new head coach while for others it could be their 10th, 20th or 30th fall season. For Dr. Dot Richardson this fall will be her first as the new head coach at Liberty University, while Patty Gasso, coach of the defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners, marked the start of her 20th season at OU this fall. Although Gasso and Richardson are each in their mid-50's, they are at different ends of their softball careers. There is a connection,however, between the two coaches.
During the 2013 Women's College World Series, this writer was discussing the Series with one of the OU grad students, who was keeping stats for the Sooners. A graduate of Liberty, the grad student mentioned that his school was going after Dr. Dot Richardson and had hoped to hire her as its new softball coach, replacing the retiring Paul Wetmore who coached for 20 years, winning more than 500 games.
I found that information interesting but didn't give it much thought until months later when it was announced that Richardson would indeed be the next Liberty head softball coach. I knew Dr. Dot had coached during her outstanding career, serving as an assistant at Adelphi, but never had been a Division One head coach. Obviously Dr. Dot had plans of being ta Division One head coach and obviously Liberty made the right pitch to get her and her husband (Bob Pinto) to come to Lynchburg, VA and become only the second softball coach in school history.
The Liberty softball program was reinstated in 1994 and in 2013 had a 30-37 record, leaving Richardson and her staff a lot of work to do to make the Flames a contender at the national college level. Having known Dr. Richardson for more than 30 years, I know she and her staff will put in the effort to turn around the Liberty softball program. Richardson has been a success everywhere she has been and there is no reason not to believe she won't be successful in Lynchburg.
Richardson said there were three reasons she took the Liberty coaching job and told them to Brian Davis, director of PR for the NFCA, in the September issue of Fast Pitch Delivery. Said Richardson, “No. 1 Liberty University is the largest Christian university in the world. It's Christ centered. For me being Christ-centered sparked my interest.
No. 2 the athletic director (Jeff Barber) said we want to put Liberty softball on the map to glorify the Lord. We want to take it to the next level.” I asked him what his definition of the next level was. I know what mine is and he said, “to be nationally ranked and, Lord winning, win a Women's College World Series.” Thirdly, he said that “financially they were prepared to put the resources behind the program to help us get there and that they were building a new softball stadium that we want you to design.”
In the last 30 plus years Richardson has made herself one of the most well know personalities in softball. Now, her and her staff will attempt to make Liberty University one of the most well known Division One college softball teams. Time will tell how long that will take to accomplish.That's the View From Here.
|Bill Plummer A graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than four decades. For 30years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office as a communications coordinator, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and historian. In addition, he also served as the editor of the ASA official newsletter, The Inside Pitch, and as the Trade Show Manager. He has written widely about the sport and has contributed to 14 books. In 2009, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2014, ” A Series of Their Own. The History of the Women's College World Series.” He has been elected to five halls of fame, including the ASA National. In 1996, he served as the Information Manager for the debut of softball in the Olympics.|
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