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.
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.
It was a bit interesting for me today, because I got to watch one of our local pitchers pound the crap out of Missouri, playing for the Oregon ducks.
Pitching in PA, Hitting in NJ is strong
Maggie Balint is from Avon Grove Pennsylvania and played for the Delco Chaos, and appears to have a really good work ethic and should do very well for the Oregon Ducks. What’s really funny about watching her success is that I watched her play in the PIAA state playoffs just down the road from me, about eight months ago. Although she did not win the state championship in 2016 ( I believe she only missed it by one run finishing as the runner-up) she did undoubtably have a strong season and set some new records in Pennsylvania.
But I wasn’t there to watch her though, I was there to watch my number 1 pitcher from Lancaster Pennsylvania, Sabrina Ryan. Sabrina also set some records in 2016 and won the playoff game that I watched the same day with the shout-out including 16 strikeouts in that game. You can see from the screenshot from maxpreps below that Sabrina and Maggie were number one and number two in strikeouts in Pennsylvania in 2016, and in that top 20 list there’s five really strong pitchers from a very tight radius of this area in eastern Pennsylvania. I’ve noticed time and time again that this area of Pennsylvania puts out some really good pitching that can endure some really tough conditions. Side note: New Jersey seems to put out some really good hitters, by the way 🙂
Pitched for University of South Florida. Played for Ken Eriksen – who by the way puts his cell phone in the back seat of his vehicle when he’s driving to avoid distractions – he’s a smart guy, we can all learn from that!
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).