For most of her coaching career, Shannon Sullivan has used spray charts to track her opponent’s at-bats. The softball coach used to draw them on paper — in her dugout — as games unfolded in front of her.
“We would keep a chart on each hitter and track what pitch we threw them, ultimately what they hit and where it was hit,” Sullivan said. “Then I’d draw a spray chart by hand.”
Now the GameChanger app does all that work for her.
The Burleson (Texas) Centennial High School Spartans have used GameChanger since the school opened in 2010, and a recent upgrade made all of Sullivan’s paperwork redundant.
“We no longer (make charts), since we can just click on the previous at-bats of that batter and (GameChanger) shows the spray chart right there, in game,” Sullivan said.
The Spartans use GameChanger for a lot more than just tracking stats during a game.
Sullivan can easily adjust her defense or make pitching decisions based on the data from GameChanger. Sometimes the live data replace scouting reports and the Spartans have to make changes on the fly.
Sullivan said her team has changed pitching strategies because a batter proved to be having trouble with inside pitchers, despite the scouting report saying she was weaker against outside pitches.
Another time Sullivan moved her outfielders because a slapper didn’t have as much power as they expected. Reacting to the spray charts that showed the ball falling in front of the outfielders in previous at-bats, the Spartans’ made the easy fix and got an easy out.
Sullivan said the Spartans’ batters do a good job of talking to each other after at-bats, sharing what they’ve seen of the opponents’ pitcher. But Sullivan will rely on GameChanger — and share that information with her players — if she sees a trend.
“A couple of times where we had one-pitch at-bats, we’ll look at what that one pitch has been,” Sullivan said. “After the first at-bats, we’ll give feedback to the team on what we’ve seen so far with GameChanger.”
Tracking Pitch Counts
“Whoever is running (GameChanger) tells me every inning how many pitches our pitcher has thrown and how many pitches the opponent has thrown,” Sullivan said. “That helps me as far as anticipating when to have our next pitcher warming up. I have pretty good idea when our pitcher is going to tire.”
Social Media Updates
Sullivan also likes that the app automatically sends inning-by-inning updates to the team’s Twitter account.
“We can keep our fans, administrators and community up-to-date,” she said.
Sullivan said the Spartans have nearly 400 followers on Twitter and more than 100 fans following the team through GameChanger. They can keep up with the team’s results, schedules, stats and in-game play-by-play, even if the Spartans are on the road.