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What to Look for When Preparing to Face a Star Power Hitter

In softball, it’s not uncommon for a game to be decided by one or two runs. That leaves little room for error from the pitcher, especially against a star power hitter.

“They are stars for a reason,” says Rex Mack, coach of the Brecksville (Ohio) High School softball team. “You can prepare for them, and they can still hit the ball out even if you execute.”

That doesn't mean you shouldn’t prepare for star sluggers, Mack says. In fact, he suggests the opposite.

“You have to be extremely diligent in your scouting, and find her strengths,” Mack said.

For example, Mack will try to determine if the player can catch up to a rise ball, or see if he can figure out where her true hitting zones are. This helps him and his pitcher plan an area of attack.

“When looking at a player, you have to understand that while the power hitter obviously has strengths, they will also have some kind of weaknesses,” he said. “That is the most important thing.

“Find the pitches she struggles with, and attack her there,” he continued, “but you better not miss or you can have some problems.”

An elite power hitter can change the makeup of a game, so it’s important to get a good read on her ahead of the game. But Mack also warns against spending too much time prepping to face just that one player.

“At the end of the day, she is one hitter, so you can’t spend all your time focusing on her,” Mack said. “You come up with the best plan to attack her, and you trust your pitcher and defense to do the job. It is those other batters getting on base that truly makes the power hitters scary.”

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While Mack scouts all of the batters in an opposing team’s lineup, he says he pays particular attention to the hitters who usually hit right next to the star in the lineup.

“We focus just as much on the two hitters coming up,” Mack said. “They absolutely can’t get on base, or then you have real problems. If the bases are cleared and you think you can get the hitter after (the power hitter) out, you can pitch around a power bat. However, you allow a couple runners on, then it can turn into multiple runs in a hurry.”

And although it might be obvious, another way to prepare to face an opposing star player is simply by focusing on your own offense. After all, a home run against your team hurts a lot less if you’re already winning by five.

“With how our teams have hit the ball, we are always very confident that we are going to score runs,” Mack said. “That gives us confidence to where if you may make a mistake, it isn’t the end of the world.”

From GameChanger and Mark Kern.

Softball

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