ARIZONA SOFTBALL

Pitch just like a Wildcat

UA staff tells how easy steps can lead to winning softball
2010-04-18T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:12:42Z Pitch just like a WildcatPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 18, 2010 12:00 am  • 

They all learned the same way.

The Arizona Wildcats' three softball pitchers were taught almost identical basics when they learned to pitch as kids. They still use the techniques today.

"Generally, I've thrown the same way," said ace Kenzie Fowler, a freshman who attended Canyon del Oro High School. "You've had to correct your feet or your shoulder turn or your finish - but I started out like this and I'm still doing that."

Now you can, too.

The Wildcats' three pitchers - senior Sarah Akamine, walk-on Ashley Ralston-Alvarez and Fowler - walked the Star through the five basic steps of a solid pitching delivery.

Take notes. You'll be whiffing people from the circle in no time:

Step 1: The Rocker

One of the most basic windups is the rocker, in which the pitcher holds the ball in one hand and shifts her weight backward. Putting your body in good starting position is key at any age.

UA pitching coach Teresa Wilson said she hasn't had a single pitcher miss an inning with arm trouble in more than 25 years.

Step 2: The Turn

When pitchers turn their hips toward the catcher, the ball will eventually go in that direction. It's one key to throwing straight. "It's a weird movement," Fowler said of the delivery. "When I first learned it, I was very wild. I threw hard, but I was really wild."

Fowler laughs now that she threw a no-hitter in her first Bobby Sox game - but allowed 17 walks. Akamine said that, after learning to pitch at 9, she was lucky if she didn't walk 10 people per game. "When I first started," she said, "Girls would cry before they got into the (batter's) box, because they thought I would hit them."

Step 3: The K

Pitchers are taught to make a "K" with their glove arm and pitching arm above their heads as they bring the ball back.

To the uninitiated, it looks almost like the "Y" in the "Village People" dance.

Ralston-Alvarez learned the delivery in fifth grade, "I think it's just something universal," said the Catalina Foothills High School and Pima College graduate.

Step 4: The T

Moving both arms toward the ground turns your "K" into a "T," with the glove hand pointed toward home plate and the ball hand toward second base.

Step 5: Finish high

The Wildcats pitchers all learned it a bit differently, but the lesson is the same - follow through after releasing the ball.

We can't promise you'll be the next Jennie Finch after mastering the five steps. But the UA's pitchers all learned, at different ages and from different coaches, the same simple lessons.

"When you're a little kid, it's 'Head and shoulders, knees and toes,' so you give them body parts to think about," Wilson said. "It's a language little kids can understand."

They don't forget it, though. "The 'K' comes before the 'T,'" Fowler said, blushing a bit. "You have to simplify it somehow."

 

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