North Texas Daily

Swinging the slump away

Swinging the slump away

Swinging the slump away
April 17
01:42 2014

Ehsan Azad // Staff Writer

After a program-best 11-game win streak, a hitting slump has sent the Mean Green softball team to a 15-12 record.

On March 29, the Mean Green’s offense hit a wall, started by three straight games with one run a piece against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Before that series, the team’s hitting average was at .307, and it has now dropped to .295.

A small decline, but before the series against Marshall University last weekend, the team only scored a total of 14 runs in the previous seven games. During the Marshall series, the offense scored 24 runs in three games and won in a sweep.

“We have been working hard all season and I think we just fell into some bad luck,” junior infielder Dani Hoff Said.  “It is nice to know that it paid off for us.”

Hoff said that during practices, regardless of the team’s recent game performance, they kept the same hitting practice routine, which includes focusing on types of pitches they would see in games and focusing on the little aspects of hitting. Hoff said the problem might have been the wrong mentality when up to bat.

“I think we were trying too hard,” Hoff said. “We would get up there and swing for the fences when we really just needed one base hit that would lead to another base hit, which would lead to another base hit.”

Hoff said in preparation for Marshall, all week they practiced with assistant coach Rone Robinson and worked on a way to outsmart Marshall’s starting pitcher. The scouting report told them that she likes to throw outside pitches.

“Coach Rob moved us all up on the plate. All of us were on the chalk line,” Hoff said. “We pretty much took away the outside pitch and any adjustments we made overpowered the ones she made.”

No one was happier about breaking out of their hitting slump than head coach Tracey Kee.

“Finally,” Kee said. “This is a streaky sport and it is hard to get 18 people all on the same page.”

Kee said that the opponent’s pitching wasn’t really the problem and the blame was on the offense. Kee said that ever since the UAB and Louisiana Tech University series, the team just couldn’t connect on any of the pitches and they really had to keep at it until they broke through.

“To go up there this weekend and swing the bats and really establish ourselves offensively, it was great to see,” Kee said.

Kee said the coaching staff implored the players to hit the ball exceptionally hard and not worry  about anything else, so they put the players through a lot of batting repetitions. Kee wanted the team to loosen up and play with a lot of energy.

“When you go through slumps, you tend to tighten up, and when you do that you are dead in the water,” Kee said.

With the team on the slump, more attention went to the pinch hitters – hitters that aren’t in the regular lineup, but are called to hit in certain situations – such as freshman Kenzie Grimes. She said she tries to block out the pressure of trying to help a team that is in a slump.

“I try to get something going for the team,” Grimes said. “If we are having a hard time on the hitting side, let me try to get something in play to get us going.”

Grimes said that it’s a bit tougher being a pinch hitter because she doesn’t regularly see the pitcher and is  limited to possibly five pitches total. Grimes said the team is rebounding and the players have bought into the coaching staff’s philosophy of committing to their swings.

“Hitting is contagious. If one good hit happens, go on and get up there for your teammates,” Grimes said.

Feature photo: Senior infielder Jordan Terry hits the ball during a home game against the University of Texas at San Antonio on Wednesday. Photo by Dana Pisciottano / Intern Photographer

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