To be an elite college pitcher you need to be able to master several different types of pitches that you can use to keep the hitters guessing on what pitch is coming next. In this article, I’m gonna talk about all five of them.
The first pitch is a fastball. This pitch is just what it sounds like throwing the ball at the highest speed you can while maintaining control of the pitch to hit the strike zone. With the shorter distance from the pitching circle to home plate used in softball compared to baseball, a 70mph fastball in softball is equivalent to a 95mph fastpitch in baseball. The Fastball is one of the most thrown pitches in all softball.
How do you throw a fastball? First, grip the ball across the laces with your fingertips and make sure to use a snapping motion with your wrist when you release the ball. It’s also very important to use the power from your leg muscles in your motion to get the most out of your fastball.
To get the most from using your fastball you need to also master the Change-up pitch. As the name implies it’s a slower pitch that tricks the batter causing them to swing too early at the ball. If you don’t have a good fastball your change-up won’t be very effective either.
To throw a change-up you need to hold the ball deeper in your hand so your fingers are fully gripping the ball. Unlike when throwing the fastball with the change-up you don’t want to snap your wrist, instead, use a smooth motion when releasing the ball.
Let’s move on next to the drop pitch also known as a drop ball. This pitch when thrown properly will have the batters swinging wildly because what at first looks like a ball coming in the sweet spot of the batter will suddenly drop down towards the ground at the last moment.
The fastball and the drop ball use the same motion but instead of gripping the ball across the laces like with the fastball, you grip it with your fingers aligned with the laces for throwing the drop ball. Also, make sure to keep your elbow tight when throwing the pitch and snap the ball off of your fingertips when you release it.
One of the most difficult pitches to master is the rise ball. Unlike the drop ball that drops as it reaches home plate the rise ball rises. So what at first looks like a strike rises upwards out of the strike zone as it crosses home plate.
To throw the rise ball hold the ball with your middle and ring finger at the spot on the ball where the laces are closest together. Dig your ring finger into the lace, placing them on top of the ball as you begin the release. Then quickly twist your hand so that your palm is facing up as you let go of the ball to create the rising movement.
A lot of pitchers use the rise ball when they get ahead in the count on a batter and know that they need to protect the plate. If you see a lot of consecutive foul balls during an at-bat it probably means lots of rise ball pitches are being thrown.
The last pitch I want to mention is the curveball. This pitch is good for framing the plate with the ball curving as it gets closer to the home plate. This pitch is used often to get a strikeout because it can sometimes freeze the batter with indecision on whether to swing at the pitch resulting in a called strike.
The curveball uses the same grip as the drop pitch when throwing it though you need to twist your wrist as you release the ball causing the ball to spin. The curveball breaks in the opposite direction of the pitcher’s hand when it’s released.
That’s a short explanation for the five most thrown pitches used in fastpitch softball.