YORK – The intent of the game of softball remains the same despite all the changes that have occurred over the years.
You still have to do the fundamental things like field the ball, hit the ball and be able to pitch the ball, as in throw strikes.
Seems simple enough.
Then again, there is much more to the game than meets the eye.
Over the years, York head softball coach Danyel Seevers pointed out that as the game has changed, whether it be in the teaching and the coaching methods, the in-game strategies or the pitching that teams have to face.
“I would say the most change has been the high level of pitchers we have faced and being able to adapt to the speed and movement as talents have evolved,” Seevers said. “When we first began the biggest challenge was hitting off of pitchers with high velocity. Now, most pitchers have one or many pitches with movement and change of speed.”
Seevers added that the game has really evolved and grown in popularity over the years.
“Another change that is very exciting is the interest in softball in general. State attendance continues to rise and it’s cool to see the passion for the sport grow,” Seevers said.
Most teams now wear wristbands, one of the many changes that have taken place over the years. This allows the entire team to know where the pitch will be located to help them maybe gauge a little better the direction the ball might be hit if contact is made. Seevers was a little bit reluctant to go to wrist bands, but other teams made the move a necessity.
“I never wanted to go to wrist bands as I wanted to keep it simple. However, when it became very apparent that our opponents actually had staff assigned to steal our signs at districts, state and sometimes throughout the season, we felt we needed to take the wrist band approach to eliminate this from happening,” Seevers said.
“The wrist bands are a way to not only get our pitcher and catcher the pitch call but the entire team. We have been very blessed to have accurate pitchers go through our program. With that being said, having our fielders know what pitch is called helps them prepare a little more.
“If an outside curve is accurately placed, our right side will need to be on their toes a little more and be aware of the spin that could come off the bat, a great placed screwball can be handled by our third base and left field with prior knowledge before the pitch.
“Determining what pitch call to make can also be determined by where our runners are, therefore this again gives our fielders the prior knowledge of where they need to cut the lead off runner down.”
So how do the wrist bands work?
“I give the girls a three-digit number,” Seevers said. “They use the first number to go to the section on the wrist band, the second number gives them the column and the third number gives them the row. This will lead them to the two-digit number that is the actual pitch call. The first digit is the pitch (curve, screw, rise, drop, fast, change). The second digit is location (in, out, way in, way out, up, down, middle).”
Seevers also added that the wrist band also has other uses.
“There’s also a section on the band for the offense to call bunt, fake bunt, squeeze, take a pitch, fake swing, 1-3 situation and more,” she added. “We also have a home run call (just kidding), would be nice, though.”
As the game continues to grow in popularity, so do the ways coaches approach teaching the game. Seevers said her husband, Phil, has been a huge asset in what needs to happen in the batter’s box.
“We are constantly gathering as much new information on different drills for all aspects of the game. There are so many things on line and of course there are clinics that have been beneficial to us,” Danyel said. “Phil works hard on the hitting strategy and we are fortunate enough to purchase some items that help with different areas of deficiency for the players. We have made some huge marks at the plate through the years and I credit hard work from the kids that want to put in the time and Phil’s knowledge of what needs to happen in the batter’s box.
“I believe the level of play continues to change and get faster. It has been very fun to be a part of,” she added. “Our core coaching philosophy doesn’t change much as we have since day one focused on basic fundamentals. We are kind of old school that way – you still have to master basic fundamentals first to compete at anything. Wristbands are irrelevant if you can’t field or hit the ball.”