Author Archives: Julia Pillow

Bat Care 101 – The Do’s and Don’ts of Maintaining Your Secret Weapon

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Bat care is subject not many people know about. Yes, aluminum bats go bad! Aluminum bats have been upgrading scientifically throughout the years to offer to harder hits, larger sweat spots, and lighter weights. These upgrades have made the bats outer shell metal thinner and more sensitive to the elements. The insides of the bats are even more technical, including many air chambers made to help the ball pop right off the bat. The chambers if not taken care of properly, can bust.

Taking too many cuts with a bat is only one way a bat can go bad. Here are some steps on preventing and prolonging your bat to not lose that desired sweet spot.

  1. When not being used, keep your bat(s) inside. Bats are very sensitive to temperature and especially cold weather. Store your bat in a normal room temperature room. This means no leaving in cars, garages, or any other room that is not typically heated in the winter.
  2. Have a dummy bat. Find a cheap used bat at a yard sale, eBay, or a used sports equipment store. Use this bat during practices, at batting cages, and cold weather events. This way your treasured and more expensive bat lasts longer and has less chance of going bad.
  3. Do not use your bat in cold weather. Use your dummy bat for winter weather practices.
  4. Do not use bats provided at commercial batting cages such as a Putt-Putt or ESPN Zone. Those bats are typically very old, do not have to meet any type of regulation, and are not safe. They have been known to slowly bend backwards after each hit and even break in half.
  5. Only hit game ball quality softballs, whiffle balls, beans, and foam balls on your “good” bat. This means do not hit batting cage balls, rocks, balls with metal, basketballs, or any other ball that is harder or has heavier density than a softball with your “good” bat.
  6. Use a bat bag that is made to prevent slamming the bag to the ground such as a roller bag or the backpack softball bag. This will take away blows the bat may take while being transported to and from the field.
  7. Do not use your bat as a tool to knock dirt off your cleats, especially if you wear metal cleats.
  8. Take note of the warranty expiration date of your bat. This way if your bat goes bad, you might be able to request a replacement.
  9. Do not make contact with balls near bat handle. That section of the bat was not made for balls to make contact and make weaken over time.
  10. Remember to educate other users of your bat so that the bat is not accidently misused.

If a bat goes bad, you will be able to tell by how the balls pop off the bat. If the bat is making a more “thunking” feel when contact is made and balls are not making a normal distance from the plate when hit, then the bat is probably dead. Also, you will feel a harder vibration through the bat when the ball makes contact. Remember, you want the hit to feel clean and effortless!

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Baseball/Softball Halloween Costume Ideas!

Halloween is right around the corner and I know typical baseball/softball fans like to wait until the last minute to come up with a costume.  To make things easier, I have searched the internet far and wide to find some of the best baseball and softball related costumes.

  1. A League of the Their Own – Isn’t this just the cutest costume?  Plus the versatility! This costume can be worn individually, by couples, or even by a whole team.IMG_7379IMG_73807345139758_12c823d995_oA-League-of-Their-Own-Costumes
  2. Baseball/Softball Zombie – Put on an old uniform and add some zombie makeup! Perfect to hear some good screams for the night.  Costume is great for team bonding/collaboration. baseball eyesoftballSoftballteamPM741023baseball_zombie_closeup_thdbb35fc5b7029a22bec7fd6a506f9000810-19-2011-8-33-13-AM-9161736
  3. Baseball/Softball Trophy – Put on a uniform and spray yourself bronze. (I know everyone has secretly wanted an outfit like one of those statue street performers and here is your chance!)trophies2trophiesmvp_trophy1
  4. Baseball/Softball Card  – Or go even more crazy and turn your card into a cereal box.         IMG_6186topps-baseball-card-19571-597x800Holloween 2011 - costumes - Theos 3
  5. Vintage Baseball Player – Get a classic look and mimic some of the greats like Babe Ruth.bs2133746-0vintage628x471
  6. Go as an actual ball – This could get tricky!f0d4ff6ad2ff201b490cee0f1b00034ff927d61db97e10856744fe8716ee5acb
  7. Force your animal or kid to love baseball. Dress them up since they have no choice!9770-Baby-Baseball-Costume-large6a8ba18b5903a11e2cbfe789a1452144Baseball-cat-costume-500x326
  8. For cute team ideas, try these.44197f1d70dfcfaf687111300c1113d50d5626cf549d7dd896c8d2f74d332f04
  9. And finally, if all else fails, just get a super hero costume and own it.halloween_baseball_1111

1996 Olympic Hero Moves to a Tiny Town with Big Dreams

web_SB_2014_Dot_RichardsonDot Richardson, two time Olympian has moved to Lynchburg, Va to become the head softball coach at Liberty University.  Richardson is taking over for Paul Wetmore who has been with the softball program since 1994.  Wetmore finished his coaching career with a 547-617-1 record.  Now Liberty plans to take the program to a new level by striving to become national ranked and update the facilities. Richardson was recently interviewed by LU and explained she has three goals planned out:

1. Continue the Christ centered focus in the softball program.

2. Make the program more competitive and become nationally ranked.

3. Improve the softball budget to update facilities.

To watch the “Getting to Know Dot Richardson” interview, go to this link : http://www.liberty.edu/flames/index.cfm?PID=10854&TeamID=2

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This is Richardson’s first official collegiate coaching position.  She brings along with her an entire coaching staff which includes her husband, Bob Pinto, and Paige Cassady.  Pinto has over 30 years of softball experience stretching from high school to professional levels.  Cassady has been hired on to be the pitching coach. Cassady brings along several years of collegiate pitching experience from inside and outside the circle.

Left - Bob Pinto Middle - Dot Richardson Right - Paige Cassady

Left – Bob Pinto
Middle – Dot Richardson
Right – Paige Cassady

Along with Richardson’s three main goals, she mentions several attributing goals in her interview.  Richardson hopes to help the female athletes in the softball program to reach their full potential as an athlete.  Not everyone can be the best player on the field but she plans to help each player reach at their own individual highest level that is obtainable.  Richardson also hopes to give these players the ability to impact others off the field when they graduate from LU. These might be the last years these players play the sport, so they need to be able to empower others once the game is over.

So what does this mean to the softball community in Lynchburg?  Having such highly experienced and well-known softball figures in the community will greatly impact softball in Lynchburg.  Richardson has been receiving hundreds of emails from interested high schoolers who want to play at Liberty.  As a result, many of these players will end up getting involved with the nearby high school softball programs, travel softball teams, and even slowpitch leagues.  Having these influencers will improve the local softball player’s skill levels and hopefully bring even more players into the system.  Bringing Dot Richardson on board to the softball program at LU is a win not only for the university, but as well for the community.

Currently, LU’s softball field conditions are not very impressive.  The field looks like a generic high school field and does not match up to other university’s facilities.  Plans to update the field are in the works.  Luckily, LU has just updated that baseball field.  This upgrade will give Liberty a sample to go by when building the new softball field. The plan is to make the softball field a miniature version of the new baseball field.  Below are pictures of both the new Liberty baseball field and the current softball field; which will be upgraded soon!

LU Baseball Field

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LU Softball Field

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Photo credit: http://www.liberty.edu/flames/index.cfm?PID=10867&CoachID=792&TeamID=2 and http://www.dailycommercial.com/sports/article_7ccc94bf-094b-5203-a679-7e9f2824b505.html


6 Fall Ball Must-Have Training Threads

  1. Under Armour Women’s Charged Cotton Storm Slub Pants – Cinched ankle design perfect for turning a normal pair of sweats into capris. Pants are also water resistant and has sweat wicking technology. Can be found at Under Armour, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Amazon.V5-1236054-001_LDF
  2. Classic Baseball Style Long Sleeve Shirt – 10 different colors in in 7 different sizes for $2.50. Who can pass up that deal? Can be found at Boombah.com8-13-2013 5-06-24 PM
  3. Easton Women’s Turboslot III Fastpitch Batting Glove – Perfect for cold weather hitting due to the extra padding. Can be found at Softball.com8-13-2013 5-09-29 PM
  4. Women’s “Easton Pro” Low Rise Softball Pants with Piping – No more granny pants during practice ladies! Softball pants made for girls  who play in this century have finally been made. Can be found at allsportsuniforms.net8-13-2013 5-15-25 PM
  5. Mizuno Wave Rider Indoor Training Shoes – Indoor training is right around the corner. Why not train with the same pair Jennie Finch takes to the gym with her? Can be found at Zappos.com2095110-p-MULTIVIEW
  6. Women’s Heatgear Sonic Long Sleeve – Sweat wicking and anit-microbial technology. Less chances for you to smell while training. Woot! Can be found at Under Armour and Amazon.V5-1233503-577_HTF

Training Cram Session before College Softball Tryouts

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College is right around the corner.  For some softball players that means college tryouts are about to begin! Tryouts can be some of the toughest weeks you will ever go through in college; but will be well worth it once you make the team.  Here are a few training tips on what to focus on before heading off to college.

There are four main training categories for softball: Offense, Defense, Cardio, and Weight Training.

For normal training sessions, I would only do two categories per day and actually only train 3-5 times a week.  But for you, this is a cram session!  Expect to do a lot of running, throwing, and hitting during tryouts; so make that your training focus!  You may run the most you ever run all year during the first weeks of school.  Coaches like to implement lots of vigorous running workouts to test players, get players into shape, and to weed out the weak players.  For your next two weeks, I would recommend running as your main focus.  Make sure to include long distance 1-3 miles and short sprints in your workouts.

For long distance, run outside.  The tryouts are going to be outside so get used to the weather.  For sprints, focus a lot on running the bases.  It is almost guaranteed that you will be timed from home to first.  You may also be timed on home to second, home to third, and around the horn.  Even if you’re not timed, the coach may still just want to see your footwork on the bags; and therefore make you run them.softball-pitching-tips_122553959_s300x300

For weight training, I would not worry on this as much or at all.  Weight training will probably not be included during tryouts.  But, expect it to start immediately once you’ve made the team.  Each team usually has its own lifting regiment it follows, so you may never actually use my recommended lifts.  One again, I would not focus at all on this area before tryouts since it takes days for your body to bounce back after these lifts.  But for future use, here are some of the most beneficial lifts for softball training (Click on links to see videos on how to do the lifts):

Offense training:

Go to the batting cage, hit off the tee, hit softball toss, practice bunting, and take practice swings.  Get your body ready for swinging the bat at practices that can last four hours at times.  Hopefully, at this point you have your technique ready for tryouts. You just need to worry about swinging with endurance and being able to take a lot of consistent cuts.

Defensive training:

Similar to offensive training where you should have you techniques ready for tryouts at this point.  You also need to prepare your throwing arm for long enduring practices.  Find a throwing partner and get a lot of throws in before tryouts. Remember to throw short and long distance.  If you don’t have a partner, grab a bucket of balls, find a target, and throw to that.  You need to build endurance in your arm muscles.  If you are an infielder or catcher, you will also need to build some endurance for squatting.  Take lots of grounders, do timed wall squats, and get used to bending those legs!

After each workout, don’t forget to stretch!


What is the Beautifully Powerful Campaign Going On?

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As I began researching for this softball focused blog, I kept coming across players saying #beautifullypowerful with shades of bright blues and purples flashing in images.  At first I ignored the colorful pictures and the girly saying thinking it had nothing to do with my beloved dirt, sweat, and blood stained oriented sport.  I grew up thinking girls should not wear pink, make up, or sparkles on the field. Camo, black uniforms, war paint, and dirt stains was the desired look. Proving that you were a tough threatening player to be reckoned with was the goal.  Seeing these girly pictures mentioning beauty had no correlation to softball to me.  I then started seeing more and more photos of girls wearing dresses, cleats, and war paint on softball fields.  Seeing the raw images of girls wearing dresses while contradicting these dresses with fierce war painted faces began to intrigue me.  What was this marketing campaign? Why are girls wearing prom dresses to dirt-covered fields and holding gloves and softball bats as if they were weapons?

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I decided to find out. I quickly learned that the marketing campaign is being run by Louisville Slugger for fastpitch softball and the face of the campaign is two time Olympian Jessica Mendoza.  As I learned more about the campaign, the more I impressed I became.  I greatly admired how they made an outfielder the face rather than the typical pitcher.  Seeing other players on the field being represented and recognized is great change.   I found a few videos explaining the campaign.  The main point from the campaign is to be yourself because you are beautiful the way you are.  Jessica Mendoza intensely explains,

“Be yourself, be what you think is beautiful, not what others think is beautiful. What you see in the mirror is beauty. Softball is a game for every body type, therefore don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t dream and be that amazing player you want to be.  Anyone who works hard enough can become successful in the game.”

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This message is very empowering. It is bringing young girls together and helping them learn that even if they are short, tall, have a lot of muscle, don’t have much muscle, that they can become a player like Jessica Mendoza on the field.  Nothing should stand in their way.  Girls are being reassured that they can be themselves, the dorky girl, the artsy girl, the girl with crazy hair are all beautiful in their own way.  It’s ok to be girly and play softball.  You can be contradicting just like the campaign.  You do not have to fit a stereotype.  As long as you are true to yourself, you will be great.

The campaign is wonderful. I plan to continue to follow it as long as it runs.  I even tried to contact Louisville Fastpitch to gain the brand wristbands for my softball playing nieces (with no luck).  I still hope the campaign continues to be a great success!

Below are videos and pictures of the campaign.

http://www.slugger.com/fastpitch-softball/ (Video)

Xeno WorkHarder WantSoftballBack Venom Training Team3 Team2 Team SoftballGirls5 SoftballGirls3 SoftballGirls2 SoftballGirls Softballbats Softball SignedBat Shirts Pride Mendoza2 Mendoza LoseAsATeam JessicaMendozaSigning hitting Field Dresses Campaign Batting Bats2

Photo credit: twitter.com and pinterest.com


5 Items That Should Always Be in Your Bat Bag

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  1. Some type of hat, visor, or sunglasses to block the sun.  Hats are the best option because they can always be used to block not only the sun, but also rain from your eyes. Sunglasses are handy for catchers to block dirt from flying into your eyes while catching.U1550
  2. Sunscreen  – You may not play softball forever but skin care while playing the game could carry with you for the rest of your life.  Preferably choose a sport block.  Spray-on sunblock is also very handy for sharing with your team.41MU1UiHHXL
  3. Water – Always remain hydrated.  Keep a bottle in your bag even if it’s empty.  You can usually find somewhere at a field to fill it with water if you are in desperate need to quench your thirst.Cascade-Sport-Bottle_3041_r
  4. Medical Tape – Medical tape is useful for many reasons.  You can tape up an injury or us it to cover blisters or new sliding burns.  You can also use it to tape up a bat grip real quickly, for a short time, if yours becomes loose and considered illegal to use. wet-pruf-tape-waterproof-adhesive-medical-tape
  5. Extra Pair of Socks – Keep an extra pair of socks in your bag to keep your feet dry and protected.  Morning games you will typically get a lot of dew on cleats while warming up.  Your feet can also get wet during rainstorms.  Holes in socks are also a pretty frequent occurrence in athletic socks, which can lead to blisters.  Make sure to bring an extra pair of socks if you don’t like wet feet or holes in your socks.

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Photo credit: http://www.sportsunlimitedinc.com/baseballbags.html

http://www.mden.com/shopping/product.cgi?ADC910+2038

http://www.soap.com/p/coppertone-sport-lotion-spf-50-sunscreen-50538

http://laceymarie333.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-fashionhealth-favorites.html

http://www.homerunmonkey.com/homerun-under-armour-apparel-ua3625-recur-over-the-calf-womens-socks.html


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