Pitchers maintain focus at practice, games
By Courtney Kennedy, Staff Reporter
When he walks out to the mound, all eyes are on him. The yelling from the stands, the screams from the field, the baseball in his hand. These are all a part of the experience unique to one of the game’s most crucial players, the pitcher. Every play of every game begins with the pitcher. Unlike all other position players, a defensive play often relies on the performance of the pitcher, who holds control over the entire defense.
“I don’t always feel the pressure,” senior pitcher Alan Wang said. “But in certain situations, when it comes down to it, most of the pressure is on me.”
The job of a pitcher begins with daily practice. Conestoga pitchers start each practice by throwing batting practice, and then transition to throwing off the practice mounds.
“A lot of pitching is lower body,” head coach John Vogan said. “People think that it is all about their arm, but it’s actually the leg drive and the leg push that takes the stress off their arm and allows them to pitch longer. That’s what pitching is. It is an explosion activity. It’s not like a marathon.”
When pitchers walk onto the field on game day, some say that everything else melts away. To play well, they must dedicate their full attention to every aspect of the game.
“Pitching is very mental,” said senior pitcher Adam Rusenko. “Staying focused and composed the whole time is really important.”
This mental readiness translates onto the field. When a pitcher prepares for a game, he goes about a regular routine. Even following their patterns, pitchers have to work to not allow small mistakes get into their heads. In some cases, pitchers can even use a mistake made against a batter earlier in a game if the batter comes up to the plate again.
“You have to make game adjustments from your observations,” said senior closer and catcher Scott Williams. “The pitcher’s mentality should be to focus on his job of throwing strikes and executing the pitches he is called on to throw.”
According to Vogan, keeping a steady mentality is one of the most challenging aspects of pitching. While the action of pitching itself can be hard at times, it is keeping a steady mental game that is the real challenge.
“It’s my job as coach to make sure I don’t let them get too low when they do poorly, and too high when they do well,” Vogan said. “They can celebrate when they do well, and that’s fine, but if they don’t do well, I don’t want them walking around crying, punching doors and kicking trash cans and driving their car out of here at 100 miles per hour.”
Courtney Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.