Notes for Game 07
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Game date: Aug 8, 2012

Score Box
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7   R H HR
Up To Date
7 5 0 9 4 0 8   33 X 0
1 0 3 1 0 1 6   12 24 1
Game Media
Stats from the Game

Coach’s Game Analysis:

Weather and Field Conditions:
Warm and comfortable, 80oF, slight wind from LF to RF; Great day for a ball game. Mostly cloudy skies covered the sun for most of the game, peaked-through for periods during the 5th and 6th innings before setting behind the trees in the 7th.

With Bowler, (our best hitter,) out for the season and Bill Kelley, (a consistent hitter,) out on vacation, it was expected that the team would have another tough game offensively. However, when Matt, the team’s starting SS, announced before the game that he could not attend, a tough game on defense was expected as well. Regardless, a winnable game was anticipated. What was not anticipated was how big of a hole Matt’s absence left on defense.

It is said that playing good is contagious. When a player steps-up and makes great plays, other players on the team will step-up and try to match their performance. With the team’s star defensive player out, no one else was able to step-up and filled his roll to help drive the rest of the team. As a result, the team played a game with heart, but without much confidence.

Crafted the batting line-up before the game. It more or less played-out as expected. Run production would have been greater had team been able to get-in a few clutch hits. (Not having Chris Bowler or Bill Kelley in the line-up doesn’t help matters.)

Key elements to line-up setup:
 - Made A-WOL lead-off hitter because he seems more comfortable with no one on base.
 - Placed Gowtham in a spot so he was not followed by someone who hits grounders or pop-ups to the infield. Was done because of his tendency to be overly aggressive on the bases pad.
 - Moved Patsy, a lefty, up in the line-up to both take advantage of her batting style and to help avoid bunching our women hitters in the line-up.
 - Placed Tim C. and Jorge in the bottom half of the line-up to take advantage of any opportunities that arose in that part of line-up.

I noticed the team hit a lot of pop-ups. There are three possible explanations:

1)There was a good sized “ditch” on the right side of the plate. This “ditch” was formed by countless batters digging in to bat during the course of the season. Not being able to get proper footing in the batter’s box can lead to sloppy swings. Only solution is to smooth the area down the weekend before the game, especially if rain is expected.

2) We are pitching the ball too low and too fast, causing batters to make upper-cut swings. Such swings will lead to pop-ups. The solution is to pitch the ball higher. When batters go after such pitches, their swings tend to be a horizontally flat swing. Such swings lead to line-drive base hits, which are hard to defend against.

3) The team is coming-up to bat “cold”, causing players to take bad swings in the first few at-bats. Most players “warm-up” as the game progresses and start taking better swings, but not after wasting a few at bats. The solution is to start doing some hitting practice before the game so people don’t come-up to bat “cold”.

With the exception of Gowtham’s base running blunder, (see “defense” section under “Game Highlights,) base runner was good.

Up To Date's defense was effective, but still botched some plays in both the outfield and infield.

Overall, defense played without much confidence. Was not aggressive at making plays, and botched various potentials plays. If it means anything, UTD (Up To Date) had better skilled batters than we had seen in past match-ups.

Up To Date:
Historically, UTD is a team that will hit ground balls towards 2B and SS and flairs into shallow LF and CF. They are also known to have a lefty that will hit it down the right field line. Today’s game was no different, with the exception of having 4 lefties that were trying to hit it down the right field line. In addition, the batters on UTD have picked-up some new tricks as a few of the righty batters were hitting the ball down the LF line.

Most hits into the outfield were short, with exception to a few deep hits into LF. Some of the women on the team were able to get some good contact and hit the ball mid-way into LF. Primarily, UTD hit the ball into RF, LF, shallow LF and RF, and near the foul lines in LF and RF. The areas UTD did not hit the ball to were CF and RCF. This area was avoided by UTD’s batters.

In all, UTD has become a team that can scatter the ball across most the field. Such a team is difficult to defend against, but it’s not impossible: it requires a lot of shifting and situation-depending field positioning.

The Matt Factor:
Matt’s absence revealed two interesting observations:
 - Matt’s presence alone is enough to encourage other team members to play at their best.
 - Matt not only does a good job covering SS, but also covers plays to 2B as well.

Without Matt, the team went into a funk and had trouble making plays, with exception to routine plays. At times, the team would take chances and make good plays, and other times the team struggled to do routine plays. At best, defense was inconsistent.

Matt’s absence also reveal how depended we were on him to make plays at 2B. Ideally, the SS and 2B should cover 2B dependent on where the ball was hit. (If ball is hit between 1B and 2B, SS covers 2B and vice versa.) Such coverage allows for the team to easily covert force outs at 2B.

This season, the team got into the habit of allowing Matt to handle much of the fielding work as possible. (And why not, he’s doing a great job.) This is fine when he’s playing, but it becomes a problem when he’s out because no one can fill-in his roll. And since we did not establish a working 2B/SS relationship during this season, it was difficult to try and place a traditional SS.

Unless Matt expects to miss the rest of the season, there is no real point in trying to address the situation this late into the season.

In past games we had success getting runners out at the plate. We even had success getting base runners out in pickle plays. With the way things were going today, we didn’t even bother.

UTD traditionally hits many grounders, so a good 2B and SS team is essential. Since we never developed a traditional 2B/SS relationship on the team, (refer to “Matt” section above,) we had trouble placing a fielder at SS. This lead to botched plays and potential plays being missed.

In the past, we placed A-WOL at SS, but he’s more attuned to playing OF this season.

Outfield played about as good as I could have hope, especially considering how UTD likes to scatter the ball. Gowtham and Jorge did a decent job in LF; A-WOL did a good job backing-up fielders and shifting while playing CF/FOF; Jorge and Tim N. did a good job covering RF, despite having to content with hits down the RF line; Melissa did a great job playing shallow RF. In the fact, the only real problem we had was covering shallow LF and the line in LF. A developed FOF who can cover shallow LF and CF would have completed the outfield coverage.

Game Highlights:

Memorable Events:
 - Players on UTD addressed the team skipper as “A-WOL”. Apparently, UTD has been reading-up on the team website.
 - One of the pitchers for UTD was tossing the ball wildly, missing the plate altogether on various pitches. According to Mark V., the pitcher would start the delivery underhanded, twist his hand 180 degrees during the delivery, and end the delivery over handed. This caused the ball to curve when pitched.
 - A rabbit was observed near the bottom of the slope behind the center field wall. (3rd)
 - While playing FOF in shallow LF, Gowtham leaped at a high line-drive over his head with his ungloved hand and tried to make a bare-hand grab. Ball was defected into left field. (He didn’t use his gloved hand because his ungloved hand was the only one that could even reach the ball.)
 - With runners on first and second, the UTD batter hits a pop-fly to Tim C. at SS. With the 1B base runner caught off-base and returning to 1B at a leisurely pace, Tim C. makes a soft toss to Russ at 1B. All Russ has to do is catch the ball for the double play, but he couldn’t. This play epitomizes how the day went for the Verdasys defense. (5th)
 - While going to retrieve a ball that went foul and out of play, the UTD LF hopped over the fence as if it were a racetrack hurtle . He did so both when exiting and reentering the field. (6th)
 - After diving into home plate to score on a Gowtham infield single, A-WOL proceeded to the dug-out. While in the dugout, he clapped his hands and created a huge dust cloud, which then flew into Patsy’s face. Patsy was not assumed. (7th)

Kevin:3 for 4 (solo ITP-HR, K) with 3 runs and 1 RBI.
Russell:4 for 4 (2B) with 1 run and 4 RBIs. Played game despite being sick.
Tim C.:4 for 4 (2B) with 3 runs scored.
Jorge:3 for 3 (SAC) with 2 RBIs.
Melissa:1 for 2 (2-SACs) with an RBI.
Heather:2 for 4 (K)
Gowtham:scored from 1B on a Russell 2-RBI single. (2nd)

Melissa:Caught a hard line-drive hit directly at her in shallow RF to end inning. (2nd)
UTD:F6-U6 double play. After catching a Mark V pop-up, fielder touched 2B to catch Gowtham off base. Gowtham, who was pitch-running for Russell, thought there was one out instead of two and ran on contact. (3rd)
Kevin:7-6 outfield assist to tag-out a runner at 3B. Kevin (LF) fielded a grounder that got past a chasing A-WOL playing 3B and threw ball Tim C. covering 3B, who tagged-out an advancing runner. (6th)
UTD:6-4-3 double play of a Tim N. grounder. (6th)
Verdasys:Team gave-up no ITP-HRs. Had two shut-out innings.

 - Team gave-up 33 runs, most surrendered in team history. The old record was 28, reached in 2010-Game 3, 2010-Game 7, and 2011-Game 3.
 - The 33 runs scored is the second most amount of runs the writing staff has seen a team score since 2004. (33 runs were scored in 2005-Game 9 by “reported” team and in 2007-Game 1 by the opponent). The most is 36, as observed in 2005-Game 4 and 2005-Game 5. (Tough stretch.)
 - Game lasted 1:40; longest game in Verdasys Softball history. Old record was 1:30 against Up To Date in 2011-Game 3. (Longest game observed by writing staff was 1:45 on 6/30/2010 between 356er's and Pioneer.)

Bowler:out for season. Still came to today’s game.
Melissa:has a pre-existing injury to a hand. Can still play, but will require surgery to correct problem. Procedure to be held-off until after the season is over.

A-WOL Watch:

2 for 4 (2B) with an RBI and one run scored. Tried place-hitting ball into right field, with limited success. Plan did not work well due to lack of hitting in over 2 weeks. Eventually warmed-up and made better contact. In future games, I should consider taking a few practice swings before the game to avoid wasted at-bats.

 - Chased a bad pitch and popped-up to 3B in foul territory. (Black bat.)
 - Pop-up to short. (Blue bat.) Hit ball near handle part of bat.
 - Grounder up the middle to drive-in a run with bases loaded. (Mark V.’s heavy black bat.)
 - Flair into shallow right field for a hit. Initially hesitated on going to 2B, (was tired,) but took it when throw to infield was mishandled. Later scored while diving into home plate on a Gowtham infield single. (Play was to 1B, which was botched.)

Started in CF. Had no fly balls hit to me. Played back-up for balls that leaked past infield or got past an outfielder. Had no trouble throwing-in balls quickly.

Later shifted to FOF. (Shallow LF.) Played-in and behind 2B when necessary. Several touches, 3 put-outs. Need to inform fielders when playing in so they are aware of my presence.

 - Botched a potential force-out at 2B. Heather fielded a grounder to 2B, but could not feed ball to me because I was positioned behind 2B bag, requiring her to toss ball through runner.
 - Was unable to field a ball that defected off Kevin playing SS to make out at 2B.
 - Fielded a grounder to 2B area and made out at 2B.
 - Caught towering pop-up into shallow CF.
 - Fielded a grounder behind 2B. Made soft toss to 2B. Heather and Tim C. were both covering bag, but Tim C would make grab for out.

Later played 3B. First time playing position this season, and was thus squeamish when fielding grounders. Also had trouble throwing balls to 2B and 1B. Misplayed several grounders to 3B. Eventually warmed-up to the position and made a put-out at 3B to end top of 7th.

Andy Wolan is a reporter and photographer for Verdasys Softball. This story was not subject to the approval of the league or its clubs.