Monday, October 24, 2005

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!

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