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Lacey Waldrop: Focus on Perfecting, Not Adding, Pitches

Pitcher Lacey Waldrop has become a household name in softball over the past couple of years. After being named USA Softball Player of the Year in 2014 and ACC Pitcher of the Year in 2015, Waldrop last year became the first Florida State player drafted into the National Pro Fastpitch League. Her success hasn’t come by accident, and she has some advice for girls looking to follow in her footsteps.

Waldrop thinks she threw around 32 miles per hour when she started out while growing up in Virginia.

“My first day of practice, they said to me, ‘Wow, you’re really tall. We are going to make you into a pitcher,’ ” Waldrop said at this week’s NPF draft in Nashville, Tenn.

She worked with pitching coach Rita Lynn Gilman, an acquaintance through Waldrop's mother, and around age 12 started to pick up speed — speed with no control.

Travel ball practices started up for Waldrop that winter, and she was pitching three to four times a week. She began working on her fastball, changeup and location. The next spring was a different story, and her hard work began paying off.

“I was like whoa, OK, I actually know how to pitch, and from there I was able to develop my movement pitches and learn the small details of the game,” she said. “When you realize how to fool a batter and how to make adjustments, that’s the fun part of pitching. Even at this point in the pros, I’m still a student of the game and learning. That’s what I enjoy about it now.”

Coaches Toolkit by GameChanger

Waldrop didn’t start throwing movement pitches until high school. She started with a curveball, and then she added a rise ball. It's an approach she recommends for other aspiring young pitchers.

“I give lessons now and I have these 12-year-old girls who will come to me and say, ‘Guess how many pitches I have?’” she said. “They might have seven pitches, but guess how many I threw in college? The majority of the time, I threw three; a drop ball, a changeup and a curveball.”

Sometimes when girls show up with so many pitches, they aren’t getting true movement on all of them, and Waldrop thinks that’s where the game needs to grow from a pitching coach standpoint.

“Let’s get really good at these three pitches and hitting the corners on all of them and being able to change speeds, which is a huge part,” she said. “If you get good at that, you can be a high-level, collegiate pitcher. You don’t need all these different things; you just need three that you can rely on.”

In order to be a successful pitcher at any level, a pitcher should have an off-speed pitch. Waldrop backs that up by having two of those in her arsenal.

For the younger girls who aspire to be a collegiate and/or professional pitcher, Waldrop has simple advice.

“Don’t let anyone hinder your dreams,” she said. “I’ve had people throughout my career say things like, ‘She might be going to Florida State, but she’s not going to do anything.’ You can use that as fuel to your fire. You can’t listen to them and it’s all about what you have in your heart. You have to be a student of the game and figure out what works for you. I think if you stay true to yourself, be your own player and embrace the people who support you and let them help you build up.

From GameChanger and Maren Angus.

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