This is an awesome time of the year with softball games on TV, tough matchups and possibly, your favorite team still hanging in there. Make sure you’re using my Team Production Scorecard to chart these 7 Game-Winning Keys.Sure, the team with the most runs wins, but there’s WAY more that goes into winning these games than simply Runs. Discover my list of 7 things you can track to help you “really” watch the Supers & the WCWS!
Chances are if you’re a softball fan then you’re watching the upcoming Super Regionals & WCWS on ESPN. Maybe you watch the pitchers and how incredibly focused they are, or the hitters and how powerful and disciplined they can be, or you “kind of” watch the whole game.
That’s all great, but what if I gave you a way to watch the game by peeling back a special layer and looking at the things that REALLY determine who’s going to win. I want to give you a way to actually track (or chart) these critical keys while the game is going on so that you can discover what really makes those great pitchers so great, and why the winning teams win.
I’ve created a Team Production Scorecard that’s ready for you to download and use this weekend when you are watching games. This Scorecard includes the 7 things that to me, have the biggest impact on the final score – and yet they don’t seem flashy, or fancy or even obvious.
Too often we get pulled into believing that our pitcher just needs to be faster to really dominate. Or we just need “better hitters” and we’d win more games. And yet NONE of my 7 Keys have anything to do with a pitcher’s speed, how fancy her pitches are, how many pitches she has or even how powerful your hitters are. The great thing about these 7 Keys is that your team can focus on doing them THIS weekend, with the players you have, at the level they currently are!
So, download the Team Production Scorecard (download link below) and let’s quickly check out my 7 Keys to Winning; 3 on Offense and 4 on Defense:Offense:
- O.B – this means Get On Base, anyway that you can. Track all the different ways that batters get themselves on base. There’s the obvious hit or error, but working a pitcher for a walk, forcing a fielder’s choice or crowding the plate and getting hit by a pitch all get your runners on base. And the more runners on base, the more opportunity to score!
- M.O.R. – Move Over Runner/s. Getting runners on base is great, but your goal is to move runners around to score, so moving over runners becomes vitally important! The team that consistently does this the best either by bunting, hitting behind the runners, working the pitcher for another walk, or simply putting the ball in play, well that team most often wins.
- BIG Inning – scoring is great, but scoring more than 1 run whenever you can is super important in today’s offensive-dominated game. I define a BIG inning as 2 or more Runs. The more a team does this in whatever game you’re watching, the greater chance they have of winning that game. This means the coach has to hold up runners for a chance to score multiple runs, when he/she could have sent that runner and tried to score only 1. You’ll see coaches take more 1 run risks later in close games, and more multiple run decisions early in games.
- 1st Inning – 3 Up 3 Down – this was one of the first things I remember hearing in my early years playing softball…”3 up 3 down”. Sounds simple and logical, and yet is super difficult! Particularly against really good teams – which by the way, all 16 teams are in the Super Regionals, never mind the 8 that survive to make it to the Women’s College World Series! So getting 3 up 3 down every inning is ridiculous. But, focusing on getting their top 3 hitters out in the 1st inning IS doable. It’s also super helpful to kill their momentum while at the same time giving you some! Once you download the Team Production Scorecard just put a check in the box if either team gets their opponents to go 3 up 3 down in the 1st inning.
- # Batters Faced with 2 Outs – don’t be surprised to watch a team’s wheel completely fall off with 2 outs. That means things fall apart for them, they suddenly can’t make outs on defense, runners pile up for the other team and eventually runs score. The more a team can limit the number of batters that come to the plate with 2 outs, the greater chance that team has of limiting their opponents BIG Innings.
- O.A.D. – this stands for Outs After Damage, and damage can be anything from an error to a walk to a hit to a hit batter (HBP) to a homerun. Damage is basically anything that prolongs the inning and gives the other team more chances to score. Mistakes or damage, won’t kill you. But, if your team allows damage to follow damage, and then more damage to follow that, then you’re in trouble – mentally and on the scoreboard! Winning teams get Outs After Damage. Watch for it and start to notice how winning teams really win!
I know these 7 keys aren’t earth-shattering, and many of you might say, the teams that win have the best pitcher or the best hitters. I’m not arguing that the teams that win the Super Regionals and advance on to OKC don’t have great players, but at this point in the season, everyone has great players. You’re looking for ways to take the players you have and beat the opponents with the players they have. Wanting to simply have “better players” isn’t something you can focus on during the game.
You’ve got to make winning seem small enough to notice and seem actually doable. Winning sounds great, but it’s too vague then it’s too easy to get overwhelmed and outplayed. Help your pitchers get better simply by focusing on getting the 1st batter of each inning out, by limiting the batters she faces with 2 outs and by getting some kind of an out after damage. Help your hitters contribute by somehow getting on base and by moving over runners. Get small, get specific and watch the wins start piling up!
For more help with your Team Charting, check out the following:
- Softball Strategies, Coverages, Signals & Charts (Book)
- Pitching Charts – How to Use Them to Win More Games (eClinic)