The umpire’s strike zone, the only zone that matters

softball fastpitch strike zone k
Notice where the blue softballs are in relation to the white strike zone? That’s where pitchers need to have the command to be able to throw to and that’s also ideally where all umpires need to be consistent and call strikes at to be fair.

What’s the official strike zone for Fastpitch softball?

Forget the pitch-caller’s strike zone, the hitter’s strike zone, and even the pitcher’s strike zone. There’s only one strike zone that really matters and you should recognize and learn it very early – it’s the umpire’s strike zone.

Officially, I’ll comment and say that based on major rule books the strike zone is basically any part of the ball over the plate where the top of the strike zone is at the hitters sternum (in their regular batting stance) to the top of their knees. Over the plate means anything that crosses over the white or black of the plate (if it has a black outline). The zone I like best is when umpires give any part of the ball crossing any part of the plate or the knees and then all of the ball is under the armpits, which is essentially again the sternum. And this is how most local umpires call the zone from 16u down. Nationally at the 18u level and into college it seems all too often that the top of the zone gets skewed into the batters favor at the belly button or the belt.

What’s a fair strike zone for the pitcher?

I feel it’s very important for the umpires to give a fair strike zone. Technologies continue to advance on fastpitch bats but there’s no technology that continues to advance for the pitcher. Down the middle is a bad choice for any pitcher. To have a strike zone where every part of the ball has to be inside every part of the plate and above the knees and below the sternum is not fair to the pitcher and quite frankly can be a bit dangerous to her. That kind of strike zone tends to be calling for far too much red; too much down the middle and too much at the belt.

When I’m most effective as a softball pitching coach and when I can have the most success with fastpitch pitching lessons is when I can teach girls to ‘paint’ the upper and lower corners of the strike zone, where only a minimum part of the ball breaks the corners of the upper and lower zone or plate, which result in a lot of backward K’s, hitters going down looking.

Bat lag & extension = line drives & long balls

Bat lag and extension when hitting

Typically I only post about softball hitters and softball pitchers with phenomenal mechanics. I couldn’t resist though posting a video about the Yankees right fielder, Aaron Judge. Judge’s mechanics are of course excellent. It helps that he’s 282 pounds and stands at a tall 6’7″. But that isn’t the only reasons that he crushes balls over 500 feet! In this video watch and look and study his bat lag and extension, textbook examples folks!

Danielle O’Toole, nothing short of amazing for USA

Danielle O'Toole, softball pitcher for USA

O’Toole pitches 1-hitter against Japan

O’Toole’s performance against Japan – the number one team ranked in the world at the time – was nothing short of amazing! The result on 7/7/17 on ESPN2 was USA 5, Japan 0. Just to put this into perspective in case you didn’t see the game, O’Toole along with USA’s stunning defense allowed only one hit against a lineup consisting of some of the smartest hitters in the world. Not to mention, O’Toole was also pitching against some of the best coaching in the world, because I’m sure Japan’s coaches are clever and were making adjustments throughout the seven innings yet O’Toole and the USA coaching staff managed to keep Japan’s hitters entirely off balance, shutting them out.

She is poised on the mound and graceful when she pitches. Her command of her spin and the strike zone is phenomenal. And her mechanics are certainly polished, to say the least. It’s easy to tell why O’Toole is a favorite softball pitcher here at fastpitcher.com.

Indeed, it was a pleasure to watch O’Toole and our great USA softball team on a national stage thanks to the World Cup and ESPN.

These softball players are amazing athletes! Athletes in men’s sports (i.e. Baseball) comparable to these women’s abilities I’d imagine are getting millions of dollars in signing bonuses alone. Pay-scale aside, it’s really a shame that we can’t at least watch and enjoy these Fastpitch performances and talented athletes more often on a national televised stage outside of the World Cup. How long is it going to take National Pro Fastpitch to get their games televised nationally by the likes of ABC, NBC, ESPN, etc. so we can all enjoy the games throughout the summer, ongoing? 1.72 million WCWS viewers can’t be wrong! Here’s to hoping it’s soon.

Alex Bayne, #2 Ohio State

I’ve been studying hitting mechanics for years and I’ve heard many, many different philosophies, but this kid’s mechanics are off-the-chart incredible!

Just goes to show that you don’t need to be huge to put the ball over the fence. A homerun is merely a byproduct of a good quality swing.

The difference a coach can make… Auburn softball

Clint Myers previously led Arizona State to two NCAA Championships but now it’s Auburn softball’s turn as he became its second head coach in program history, on Friday, June 14, 2013.
In only his second year at Auburn while claiming SEC coach of the year here’s a few 2015 stats:

  • Program-best 56 wins
  • Won first SEC tournament title in school history
  • First WCWS appearance (lost to Florida in semifinals)

Paige Lowary

Paige Lowary, 14, Missouri Softball
Didn’t play travel softball and only threw fastball while in high school. Coach Earleywine heard about her from a friend. I guess this goes to show that you don’t need travel or fancy recruiting to play D1 in a big way (being over 6 foot tall and throwing over 70 mph helped I’m sure).