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Not Too High or Too Low: Softball Players Must Carry On

Maintaining a disciplined and even-keeled frame of mind is crucial in prep softball. Kay Sopocy, the coach at Glenbrook South (Ill.) High School, expects that from her players. She doesn’t want  the previous play to influence their approach on the next play.

“I think there needs to be consistency in the team,” she said. “They need to understand physically what their position should be so that they have a consistent spot that they should return to.”

The learning curve for softball doesn’t take place during the game, Sopocy said, but rather after the final out, or in practice. New situations and new scenarios make it difficult for a player to know how to master a particular fielding play.

“The mindset is you always can return there and should return there,” she said. “After something bad happens you need to take a deep breath and be expressionless and move on. I think moving on is hugely important. Whatever happens is over and you shouldn’t return there. After the game you can talk about things that developed that you could have done a little different, that were out of your control. A lot of the game of softball and baseball, much of it is out of your control. You have to have that composure about you to move ahead.”

That doesnt mean players have to be emotionless statues. According to Sopocy, celebrating a run or hit is important, because the positive vibes can become contagious to the rest of the club.

“I think there should be a type of celebration,” she said. “‘Look at what I did, let’s build off of that.’ Not only individually but team wise.”

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Winning in a lot of ways can be considered an extension of a celebration from a run scored. The wins tend to get celebrated more heavily in the playoffs or against rival schools like Glenbrook North.

“I think you definitely celebrate that, but in a composed way,” Sopocy said. “There is another side to winning, and you don’t want it rubbed in your face. We shake hands with the other team in the line and the umpires. Then we go to the dugout to talk about what went well and some things we could have done better, in addition to how we can build off of a big win.”

Softball can be brutally frustrating. Even the best hitters hit well below a 50-percent clip. Without the wherewithal to forget the last at-bat, whether successful or negative, no consistency can be accomplished.

“Either way you need to move on to the next thing,” Sopocy said. “You can look at it two ways. A hitter could be hitting .400 on your team, but that leaves the other six out of 10 times that you were not successful. You have to be able move on from not making a hit, not making a play, not having a perfect defensive percentage.”

The body image and persona given off by established varsity players can have a huge affect on the rest of the team, Sopocy said, and they must lead the way.

“From a maturity factor, they look at the game different,” she said. “They have seen more innings and more balls coming across the plate. You can’t hang your head. You should never be looking at your shoes.”

At the end of the day, Sopocy believes softball is a game that everyone should look forward to participating in. And with a team concept in mind, the game is even more fun. So if one player doesn’t exhibit the same reaction as her teammates, Sopocy said she likes to talk with her alone at a later time.

“I think the premise of the game is that it is fun,” she said. “Even with the high and low moments it still has to been fun. I love to coach and I think my team knows that. I want them to have a fun time. I want them to have camaraderie and experiences to share. If someone is having an expression that is not fitting with the moment, then it’s just a one-one-one conversation for (me and her).”

From GameChanger and Hunter Tickel.

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