Billy Dooley has been around the game of softball long enough to understand the importance of strong pitching.
Dooley is currently entering his third season as an assistant coach at Morgan County (Georgia) High School.
Pitching helped contribute to Morgan County finishing fifth in the state in AAA last season and as the state runner up in 2015.
Dooley has a strong passion for the game of softball and giving girls a strong foundation to learn from.
“I believe the area I do best in is my in-game philosophy,” Dooley said. “Whether it be pitch calling, situational defense, or offense, I believe that my experience as a coach has allowed me to see a lot of good softball over the years and make decisions that helps put my team in situations where they can be successful.”
Dooley outlined one of his core pitching philosophies, “On or out in 3 pitches.” Whether the pitcher records an out or allows a baserunner, it should be accomplished in three pitches or less.
“This keeps the flow of the game moving and keeps the defense involved. It also forces the hitter to be ready at all times,” Dooley said. “Success rates increase significantly for pitchers when they work ahead in the count and force the hitter to be defensive instead of offensive.”
This mentality is instilled before the season even begins.
“We discuss it in every bullpen session and hammer it into our pitchers and catchers’ heads throughout practice, offseason, and games,” Dooley said. “It is also crucial that your catchers understand this philosophy, as well, as their in-game presence and knowledge of the umpire’s strike zone is critical.”
Another way that Dooley tracks the progress of the pitchers is with a report card after every outing.
Amongst the goals for a high grade are:
WHIP under 1.00
On or out in 3 pitches 60% of the time
Less than 12 pitches in an inning
60% first pitch strikes
No lead off walks
“These are just a few, but the focus again is on keeping the defense in the ball game and keeping a pitcher's pitch count to a minimum,” Dooley said. “Everyone still thinks softball pitchers can go out and throw all day and for some of them, it may be true. But the less pitches your pitcher has thrown, the more effective she will be at the end of the game when the game is on the line.”
This philosophy steels the pitchers when it’s crunch time.
“When everyone involved understands the philosophy, it is easy to hang your hat on it when times get tough. When pitchers and catchers follow through with this and have success, that success breeds confidence,” Dooley said. “A confident (not cocky) pitcher, is hard to beat.”
The philosophy can easily translate to being applicable to the real world as well.
“I think it shows players they have to go right after things and not wait around for things to happen to them. When you take charge of your situation, good things happen,” Dooley said. “If you piddle around and let others gain confidence, it takes away from your success.”