They say that numbers don’t lie. But which numbers you should look at is a completely different question.
“Everyone’s favorite stat is wins and losses,” said John Chilman, coach of Las Vegas’ Faith Lutheran Crusaders.
Each coach has his or her own opinion on what leads to wins and losses on the diamond. That success can be examined by many different stats — offensively and defensively. From BA to QABs, from errors to number of strikeouts, every coach has a favorite stat to check.
“My most important stat in winning and losing is errors,” Chilman said. “If you play error-free ball, you give yourself the best chance to win. I am a firm believer that if the other team doesn't score it is really hard to lose the game.”
We asked high school softball coaches from across the country what stat they looked to first.
Luke Sheppard, Smyrna (Tenn.) High coach
- “On-base percentage (OBP) to me is more important than the batting average. Ultimately if you’re on base, you have a chance to score runs.”
- “Batters should have a positive (ratio) of walks to strikeouts.”
- “For our pitchers, we look at the number of batters faced versus the number of strikes thrown.”
- “Batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP) is a big one. That tells a lot. If we get the chance to score, I want to know how we’re doing.”
Aaron Mullens, Durant (Okla.) High coach
- “Runners in scoring position, (because) I want to know how we’re hitting in those timely (situations).”
- “Pitches seen in a plate appearance (because) we like to see a lot of pitches.”
- “Strikeout percentage for pitchers, (especially) when we got people on base. I like to see what she does during those situations — when you really need a strikeout.”
Rachel Smith, Piedmont (Ala.) High coach
- “Quality at-bats (three pitches after two strikes, a six-plus-pitch at-bat, hard hit balls, two-out RBIs, sacrifice bunts or sacrifice flies). One of the things I try to encourage our kids to do to be selective and work the count deep and learn to try to hit behind our runners when possible.”
Glynn Lott, Macon East Academy (Cecil, Ala.) coach
- “My favorite stat is on-base percentage. We really stress hitting good pitches early in the count. (We also stress) that walks are just as important as hits and putting the ball in play so the defense has to do something.”
James McClanahan, Fort Bend (Texas) Ridge Point High coach
- “Offensively (we look at) strikeouts versus plate appearances. It’s real simple — you’ve got to put the ball in play to have a chance to get on base.”
- “Defensively (we look at) a pitcher’s WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched).”
Jeff Serbin, Hendersonville (Tenn.) High coach
- “The pitchers’ stat that makes a big difference when it comes to winning and losing is ERA. If it is down around 1 in softball, you’re going to be successful.”
- “On-base percentage (because I want) to see if the kids are getting on base.”
- “The (batting average with) RISP to see who can step up and get a big hit.”
Sandra Hernandez, Southwest (San Antonio) High coach
- “My favorite stat that I live and die by is on-base percentage. For me, getting on the bases, no matter how you do it, is a great quality in a player. When looking at stats, I go to the (on-base) column first then the (batting average).”
Paula Miller, The Woodlands (Texas) High assistant coach
- “I'd say the stat we put the most emphasis on is quality at-bats (QAB). Since we started using GameChanger, we have put more stress on the process of the at-bat rather than the outcome. I think it allows us to focus on a player’s effort and true ability rather than just batting average. I believe that players benefit by focusing on what they can control.”
Joseph Huber, Mesquite (Texas) Poteet High coach
• “My favorite stats are OBP, AVG-RISP and QABs.They are more about the team than the individual and about the little things necessary to win.”