Friday, October 28, 2005

From Jane

Our practice session on Saturday 22nd October went really well.
We are definitely coming together as a team. Fielding has especially
improved, although I personally have to do something about catching
at least one of those huge hits that come my way occassionally!

My muscles generally do not hurt as much the following day as they
did when we first began this softball malarkey - this I believe is a good
sign. The exception however is my buttock and thigh muscles! I'm
new to pitching and oh my goodness how they hurt Sunday morning.
But no pain, no gain as they say, and if I could just develop a bit of
consistency such as Kate has mastered then I shall be away laughing
(and there will be less of the 'moon throws'). Darren shared with me top
pitching tactics but to be honest I'm just trying to throw 'em roughly in
the direction of the batting plate at present.

Speaking of throwing, can I just apologise for the 'low blow' Ben copped
from my throw at short stop during the drills. Hopefully the family jewels
are intact. I have found that it can be just as effective to throw underarm
at close distances, and safer!

Can I put in a plea for us South Londoners that we have the odd practice
session at a pitch in Clapham Junction or perhaps Wandsworth? It takes
me well over an hour to get to Finsbury Park. I accept that Finsbury Park
is likely to be our 'home pitch' which is fine because for league matches
we'll be travelling from work. Other sides we'll be facing in the league
apparently have Clapham Common as their home pitches so it may be
worth us checking it out to be more comfortable with the games we'll have
to play there. And I'll get a longer sleep in. (Now that's what I call team spirit!)


Monday, October 24, 2005

Howling in the park

When I was picked as second reserve in the class rounders b-team when I was 12 (the lowest position without actually falling off the bottom), I never thought I would voluntarily get out of bed on a Saturday morning in October in order to play Softball in a muddy park! Not only that, but I have somehow found myself assuming the role of pitcher for a good part most of the day - I didn't realise how tiring it would get, and how much my left leg and right arm would ache the next day. I have now realised that pitching is very much like doing lots and lots of lunges on one leg...very good for that leg's muscles...if you are used to it, that is.

All in all it was a pretty fantastic turnout in Finsbury Park yesterday morning, especially considering the less than encouraging weather forecasts. The Loan Wolves did it again, coming out in force for a fantastic day's practice.

Darren from the softball league came along to coach us and this was tremendously helpful. We worked through drills on ground throws, fielding big hitters, and double plays, and he was full of invaluable advice both during the training and afterwards in the pub.

People are starting to find there natural preferences in terms of positions and fielding techniques and although still shakey at times, our fielding is definitely improving! A great few hours were had by all.

Saturday 22nd October - from Andy's web journal

Had a good softball session yesterday. It was a mild, sunny day, despite the ominous weather forecasts. Ground muddy underfoot, and a huge puddle around the pitcher's plate, thanks to several days' rain, but we could live with that (well, Jane and Kate who were pitching weren't too happy about that puddle...). We had almost two full teams worth of players, including some from the other dev team, and Darren from BSUK was there to coach us. We practised fielding ground balls, throwing to cut-offs and double plays between short-stops and second basemen, then played a practice game. The practice drills Darren had us doing were great - really helpful.
Thanks to expert batting coaching, my batting has actually got worse. I was trying to improve my technique according to what Darren showed us, but thinking "is my elbow high enough...when should I twist into the the bat straight...?" just distracted me from concentrating on the ball. Still, it'll be worth it if I start improving the distance I can hit the ball. Fielding still rubbish, though I am slowly improving a bit. I hope. Overall, the team played really well - Peter took an outstanding deep catch at Centre Field, and there were several outs at First Base. Kate's really getting good at pitching - she reckoned the photos of herself from the tournament had helped her see where she could improve her technique.
As we weren't covered in mud and drenched by rain, we went to the pub rather than straight home. Went to The Finsbury, which was surprisingly cheap, and sat outside (avoiding hassles about taking bats into pubs). Had a good drink and chat. Darren gave us lots of tactical advice, of which I can remember:
1. Pitchers should mix up deliveries as much as the rules allow - deliberately bowl the odd ball rather than strike, aim at different areas of the strike zone, etc.
2. Short-stop is a really important position.
3. Put the heaviest hitting batters at 4-6 or therabouts in the line-up. Put solid base-hitters at 1-3. that way, a home run from a big hitter bats in more runs than if there was no-one on base ahead of them.
4. Don't think you have to slide into base if you aren't comfortable with your ability to do so safely; "it's better to take the out than end up in hospital".
We can probably do some useful work on tactics, rules, etc over the Winter when the weather stops us practising. I managed to acquire a book on rules from the US, thanks to BookCrosser momofap. I've read it through, and passed it onto Richard to circulate round the rest of the team.
I really have enjoyed playing softball - it's good to be outside doing something on a Saturday morning, and it's been a motivator to try and take more exercise. Plus, it's a good game - exciting and engaging whether you're fielding, batting or running, and with a lot going on - you have to concentrate mentally, and, as we've learned, there's a lot of teamwork involved. It helps that the Wolves are a great bunch of people, and we value the social aspect of the game. And as a side effect, it has actually improved cross-site communication in City LIS!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Saturday 8th October

9 Wolves keenly made their way to Finsbury park, along with a few members of the development team and a couple of guest-wolves for what turned out to be a very enjoyable and productive session. The 9 included a newly recruited wolf cub, Alex, who straight away displayed his potential as one of the team's big hitters!

We started by dividing into two groups for some pitching and batting practice, before heading into the main section of the session - a game made up of three mini teams - one infield, one outfield and one batting. This gave everyone a chance to try out different positions and also to have a good old go at batting. We made it through 2 innings each, and as the session progressed our improvement was clear as we started to get more people out. Practising in a real game-type scenario is definitely the way to honeour skills, reactions and tactics.

Personally I enjoyed the chance to have a good go at pitching and to do a bit of shouting!