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Better Offense and Defense Starts with Stats

better-offense-defense-starts-with-statsFrom GameChanger and Tom Glave, a freelance reporter for Red Line Editorial, Inc.


Cody Little used to spend a lot of time crunching numbers for the Durant (Okla.) High School softball team when he was in charge of tallying game stats and season stats for the Lady Lions.

Now, thanks to GameChanger, Little and the other coaches spend less time compiling those stats and more time analyzing them.

“We used to spend 30-45 minutes tabulating stats from a game and recompiling season stats from each game,” Little said. “It was very inefficient.”

The extra analysis paid off big time for the Lady Lions. Little said using the app for the second season this past fall helped Durant improve its defensive strategy.

“You can compile so much more telling data than your average scouting report or average (spray) chart would,” Little said. “We can look at first-pitch strikes … stats other people don’t have. It puts us at a distinct advantage going in.”

Durant and Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School coach Jeff Serbin shared how they use GameChanger to prepare for their defensive and offensive strategies for games.

DEFENSIVE STRATEGY

For Durant, defensive strategy begins with scouting. For its regular opponents, Durant sometimes has as many as 15 or 16 at bats on record from opposing players. Little uses that information to spot tendencies.

“Because we had so much data compiled, I could go in before a game and look at the (opponent’s) hitters,” he said. “We could align our defense, shift (players). We don’t get too crazy but shift a little bit in (one) direction.”

The data also helped the Lady Lions pitchers prepare for batters.

“We knew how to attack a hitter because we knew what they were trying to do,” Little said. “We could get them to do something they’re not really comfortable with.”

Little and head coach Aaron Mullens would review the data a day or two before regular-season games and set a game plan. But the Lady Lions had even more success with a longer preparation time before postseason games.

“We had enough data and enough time ahead of that (tournament) week to really work on things in practice leading up to that,” Little said. “We had a game plan a week ahead (of the regional tournament) and really implemented that in practice through that week.”

OFFENSIVE GAME PLANS

The Lady Lions stuck to their offensive philosophy throughout the season but used GameChanger to identify some problem areas at the plate.

“We’ll show it to our hitters,” Little said. “If someone only hits to the left side, we’ll show that to them and show them the spray chart and talk to them about it.”

Unlike Little, Serbin does use GameChanger to help select a lineup.

“We look at matchups: If we’ve faced the pitcher before and if we played different (batters), who had success and who didn’t have success?” Serbin said. “The preparation is finding the right matchup with the pitcher we’re about to face.”

Serbin said he also checks the stats to see who has been delivering in the clutch.

“Several times (this season) we’ve left several runners on base,” Serbin said. “So the next game I looked at it and adjusted our lineup for those better suited for getting that big RBI when we needed it.”

The stats also make it easy for Serbin to explain an offensive game plan to his batters. Serbin said an early-season meeting with an opponent’s ace resulted in 10 or 12 strikeouts. After reviewing the information on GameChanger, his Lady Commandoes were prepared when they met that pitcher again later in the season.
“We showed the girls (on the app) these were outside pitchers or strikes out of the zone that we were swinging at,” Serbin said. “The next time we faced her, we showed them what we could do if we allowed her to throw (one good pitch) and were aggressive early in the count.”

Softball

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