Monday, June 5, 2017

A Few Tips

Softball is a very active and physical sport. Accidents happen. I’ve had plenty of accidents, broken bones, concussions, and torn everything; from cartilage to ligaments. There are very few things we can do to prevent injury or prevent accidents. One very good way to avoid injury is stretching. When you stretch before beginning a sport, you reduce the risk of tearing a muscle, ligament, or any cartilage. Cartilage is really easy to tear, especially for a catcher or pitcher. If a pitcher is off balance, they will use their torso to correct the pitch, creating the chance of hurting themselves. When a catcher has to lunge across body, leading with their gloved hand, it is nearly impossible to not rip chest cartilage. I detached my ribs from my cartilage a few years back reaching for a wild pitch. My first basemen, a season later, ripped the cartilage in her knee because she did not stretch and warm up before the game, she has been through four surgery. We require our players to throw the ball around before the game so that they do not rip the cartilage and the rotator cuff in their shoulder. A meniscus tear is also very common if you do not stretch, run, and warm up before play time.

The most common injury in base running is a broken ankle. This generally happens when the base runner is sliding into a base. To avoid this painful situation, which i have also been through, is slide a little sooner. The second most common injury is a concussion, which i’m sure we’ve all encountered. I know i have. There’s nothing you can really do to avoid a concussion, but good batting gear and catcher’s gear is definitely a start. Gear will have to be replaced. I have cracked my batting helmet straight up the back because the pitcher had grabbed my face mask when i went to slide into home plate and slammed me back into the ground, stopping my slide short, getting me out, breaking my helmet, and knocking me unconscious. I ended up in the hospital with a concussion and a fracture in my skull. Broken wrists and fingers are also very common, these mainly occur when diving into a base, either your hand will be stepped on or jammed into the base. Dislocation of fingers and hands is also common, this is a simple fix, don't dive with straight fingers, when you dive, have your wrist at an angle so you hit the base with the palm or the heel of your hand, not your fingertips.

Conditioning definitely comes in handy when you're in a pitching or catching position. Lunges are definitely a useful exercise before jumping into either position. To get your legs in shape for the constant up and down squatting of a catcher’s position, you can try running uphill and downhill for a few miles. Maybe not all at once, but running uphill definitely helps gain muscle strength in your thoughts whereas walking or jogging downhill works on your calves, which is another muscle that is commonly used. Finally, water; and a lot of it. If you do not drink enough water your muscles will dehydrate and cramp horrendously.

Ball v Life*

In this article, multiple stories are shared about the dangers of the pitching mound. The article starts off by addressing Tori Finucane’s injury in May of 2015. On the pitcher’s mound, she had delivered the ball, a perfect strike, and was rewarded with a line drive. Natural instinct to anyone on the field, especially pitchers’, is to throw the glove up and duck when a line drive is headed your way. Line drives are quick, hard, and can be deadly. Finucane was hit just barely an inch from her left temple with a line drive when she was rendered temporarily blind and deaf. “Finucane ducked as she raised her glove in self-defense, but standing fewer than 40 feet from Perez’s”-UCLA freshman- “bat, there wasn’t enough time to avoid the bright-yellow 12-inch circumference, 6  1/2 -ounce ball. After the ball struck near her left temple, Finucane helplessly waved a shaking right hand in the direction of the Tigers’ dugout as she covered her bleeding nose with her other hand, the left side of her head throbbing from a hairline sinus fracture.” It is a terrifying thing to watch. It is even more terrifying to be that player on the ground unable to do anything but lay there and wait for help. A direct hit to the temple could be fatal to a person, regardless her injuries, Finucane was very lucky the line drive did not actually kill her.

Story number two covers Finucane’s relief pitcher, Paige Lowary. On February 27th, Lowary was hit above the corner of her left eye, another line drive, this time off the bat of Nikki Udria. Pitching  against Oregon during the Mary Nutter Classic, Lowary regretted her decision in previously telling her mother she would not wear a face mask until she got hit. Unfortunately, this came true. It is not required for any player except the catcher to wear a face mask while playing defense. Face masks often times gave the impression that the player is weak or afraid; less intimidating in some cases.

I have been hit in the face multiple times, both in and out of the pitcher’s mound. Once in left field, once at shortstop, and three times on the pitcher’s mound. The first time I was hit, I was hit in the chin. The ball hit hard enough to split the skin against the bone, which bled for a long time. The second time I was hit, I was hit on my left cheek. I had a very swollen face for quite some time. The third time I was hit, was my reality check. I was hit in the side of the head, much like Finucane’s injury, only I didn’t go deaf. I couldn’t see, and had troubles seeing for quite some time after the initial injury, I had a gnarly concussion that made it impossible for me to eat or drink without throwing up, and it left me unable to move. It is a terrifying thing to fall to the ground and not be able to pick yourself back up. I’m not really sure what happened to make my legs not work, the doctors’ aren’t either, we just decided it was the initial shock and stun from the impact. After a few minutes, I had feeling in my feet and my knees again. As you can assume, I was unable to finish my season, thankfully it was only a couple games, unfortunately, it was my closing tournament for the season. After that, my mother made sure that I had a face mask at all times. That doesn’t necessarily mean I wore it, but I had it when I needed it. I think that the leagues and the manufacturers of face masks such as Easton or CHAMPRO should work together in protecting players. If the leagues make it a requirement to have a face mask to pitch, sales will go up. Therefore, manufacturers will not have to worry so much about what they are spending to make better and more protective face masks that fit well and protect everything such as the face and the temples. This could go hand-in-hand if dealt with properly. We need to get over the stigma that face masks are a sign of weakness and realize that they could save your life. Finucane is making a recovery and pitching today.

   Paige Lowary
   Tori Finucane after hit

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

**Female Athletes: More Than Their Relationships*

    The Chicago Tribune's writer Tim Bannon posted an article about a two time bronze medal winner in Olympic Trap Shooting. In this article, they referred to her as “Corey Cogdell-Unrein, the wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, won the bronze medal in women’s trap shooting Sunday.” Bannon did mention that she’s a two time winner, they did not mention her training and all the work it took to make into the Olympic Event. He did not recognize her as a champion or winner, they classified her as the wife of an NFL player. Heaven forbid a woman actually gets recognized as something other than wife, sister, family member, or anything other than her athletic title. Bannon seemed to steer the article from Cogdell- Unrein to her husband Mitch Unrein, and how he fit into her work. They often refer to his football career instead of Cogdell-Unrein, such as mentioning it is his bye week, slipping in a little statistics of the recent games. Soon after, The Chicago Tribune also made a tweet, where they didn’t refer to her by her name, but by her marital status. After the tweet, they attached their website and the link to this article.


It is disheartening for me as a female athlete to see how easily we are brushed aside and addressed as a family member instead of who we truly are. We are athletes, yes, some may be wives of other athletes, or maybe the sister or the daughter of another athlete, but that doesn’t mean we can be brushed off as just that. We are hard workers, we are dedicated to our sports, we train relentlessly, we don't do this to not be recognized. When people disregard us, it is defeating, it is disappointing, it is irritating that after all these years, after all this hard work, we aren’t recognized for who we truly are. When I was in my freshman year of high school, a lot of the time I was referred to as “the girlfriend of a football player.” No one ever really mentioned that I was the JV catcher/pitcher. No one ever mentioned the struggle I go through everyday to play the sport I love.


Just as Cogdell-Unrein was not recognized a two-time winning bronze medalist in the Olympics for trap shooting. It does not mention the training, it does not mention the dedication to take trap shooting to Olympics, it does not refer to her as an athlete. They do not make her sound as if she is an independant woman who can do things, such as compete in the Rio Olympics, they do not make her sound successful in her headlines as they would Usain Bolt. They do not make her an individual woman in her headlines, they make her sound second best, they make her sound as if the greatest thing in her life is her husband and that’s all that she is. Bannon does not illustrate her as an individual, but as a sidekick, for lack of a better word.


Cogdell-Unrein is not the only female athlete that has been brushed aside. There are many female athletes that are not recognized to their true potential, for who they are. In this article published by the HuffPost, they are discussing another article about how multiple headlines from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro were sexist and leaning towards the men’s victories, rather the womans’. They have a photo of a newspaper clipping about Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky and their finish in the Olympics, written by Paul Newberry. Michael Phelps’ victory is printed in bold and noticeably larger font than Katie Ledecky’s win. Her font is not larger, it is in fact much smaller, it is also not in bold print, it is a regular font, easily overlooked if you’re not actually reading the article. "Ledecky sets the world record in the women’s 800 freestyle." She goes fairly unrecognized and looked over compared to Phelps’ winning the silver medal.


Here is yet another sexist moment from the 2016 Rio olympics. Instead of giving Katinka HosszĂș the credit she deserved for her performance in Olympic swimming, they give the credit to her husband, saying he is the man responsible for her win. Her husband is not responsible for her win, she is responsible for her win, she was in the water, she did the training, she did the work, she broke the world record, not her husband. For NBC to tell the world that her husband did all the hard work is extremely disrespectful and sexist. They would rather give a man the credit than the actual athlete. If you ask NBC or The Chicago Tribune, they will deny all sexist remarks, they will claim that they broadcast and write about everyone equally, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t publish equally. After shining some light on these three articles and providing multiple reasons why their prints are sexist, I would hope that NBC, The Chicago Tribune, and Newberry will reconsider their words and choices when it comes to writing about female athletes, versus male athletes and their accomplishments. Woman are made to sound as if we are not individual athletes’, instead, we are portrayed as reliant upon our significant others’.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

5 Ways to Perfect Your Play*

Five Ways To Perfect Your Play


Step One: Focus
You are not going to be able to make it very far if you cannot focus on your task at hand. You can't let the other teams' cheers and shouts affect your playing. They are shouting to distract you, they are shouting to make you play miserably. Focus on the game and only the game. Your catcher should be keeping your pitcher in check, making sure she doesn't overdo herself. The catcher should be calling out the plays. You need to take that call and focus on where the ball is needs to go.


When batting, you need to focus on the ball and nothing else. Swing your bat until you feel the ball connect with your bat. Receive your instructions from your coach, and then focus on the ball. Watch the pitcher's wind up, watch the ball in her hand until she releases it. Watch it all the way into the catcher's glove if the pitch is not good enough to be hit. If the pitcher serves you a strike, focus on the ball, focus on the swing of your bat, watch the ball hit the bat. Don´t watch the ball after you've hit it; run. That is your next focus point. This game is a game of wits and focus.
 Image result for focus softball


Step Two: Coordination
In order to run the bases, in order to swing a bat, in order to chase a pop-fly, to pitch, to catch, you need to have coordination. Whether it's hand-eye coordination, or eye-feet coordination, you need to have it. Have you ever tried to run the bases as fast as you can while dizzy and unstable? I have, and it is not easy. What about catching a fly ball? You cannot catch a fly ball if you do not have the coordination between running and watching. You have to trust that your teammate will be there to back you up and to keep you from running into one another or a fence.

Image result for softball base runner
Step Three: Trust
Trust. Trust is one of the most important things on the field. If you cannot trust another teammate, you will not be focused on the game, you will be focused on your teammate, the game, what you can do to try and do better than her. Outfielders' have a strong relationship with one-another. They will run to back each other up, they will call out ¨MINE¨ or ¨GOT IT¨ to avoid a collision. They will also shout out, ¨FENCE¨ or ¨LET IT GO¨ if you are nearing a fence or if the ball is obviously too far and unable to be caught. You have to trust your base coaches to make the right decisions when they say “Round Two” or “Stay.” You have to trust that your pitcher will be able to do her job, just as every girl should. Your team should be your family, there should be love, kindness, and trust in one another as a family, not just a team.                                                                     
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Step Four: Respect
You need to have respect for the game. If you don’t respect the game, then you will not be a successful softball player. You need to have respect for your teammates and yourself. You need to have good sportsmanship for the other team. If they take a loss, you do not rub it in their face, you do not make fun of them for it, you shake their hands, say good game, then celebrate with your teammates. Bragging about your win to the team you just beat is rude and disrespectful. Respect is a must in this sport. If you do not have respect for your coach, your coach will sit you. It does not matter if you are the only pitcher, they will find a replacement.

Image result for softball players shaking hands
Step Five: Durability
Softball is a contact sport. You may not think it, you may think, oh all you do is catch a ball and run the bases. Sure, we do that, but we also have to tag runners out, avoid the tag if you are the runner, there’s the occasional collision when there is a miscommunication. A catcher’s job is one of the hardest. They are covered in pounds of gear, they have to catch every pitch and throw out every runner that they can. If the catcher fails at her job, there is no game. I personally am unable to play softball. I am a catcher and when I was twelve years old, I am now seventeen, I was injured by a base runner that was my responsibility to tag out. I separated my hips from my spine that night. It was the fourth inning, my team was winning by three, and I was getting the last out of the inning, so I hoped. It did not really go the way I planned. I ended up leaving the softball field in an ambulance that night because I was paralyzed. Five years later, I can walk, but its a daily challenge for me. With every step I take my hips will pop, and it is terrifying to know that one of those pops could potentially paralyze me for the rest of my life. You have to be able to get up and keep going, you cannot take every scratch as if it is a life threatening injury. Having endurance to run around the bases and the durability to play the game.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Softball versus baseball


Rise and Shine


Casey Africano of Notre Dame has some strong words for the sport known worldwide as ‘Softball’. The video is titled “Softball is learning rather than failing”. It is a very inspiring video that definitely speaks to me on a personal level. “I felt like I was failing coach”. Africano’s words speak to me on a personal level because when I played softball, I was severely injured and for me, I needed to hear her words to hold on to hope, and to have faith. To get back up and to keep fighting. Softball is definitely a difficult sport to play, especially when playing for a college. You have a lot of pressure on your name and all you want to do is play perfectly. The doesn’t happen though. It’s the same way in life, you want to achieve greatness and have your name known. You want to be perfect in your life, but that doesn’t happen. You don’t get to really choose what goes on in your life.

The video also follows the story of an eleven year old girl named Hannah who was diagnosed with cancer. I love the way Africano intertwined the two subjects. The game will knock you over, over and over and over again, as she says, but you also need to get back up. You  need to bounce back, you need to succeed for yourself. Your worth is never based on what you have done, what you have succeeded in, it is based on your personality, it is based on your attitude. Never let your inability to do something define your worth. And definitely don’t let it break you down. “If you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree, it will lead it’s whole life believing it is stupid”. I like that quote because it references to how if you judge someone on their ability to do something that is not first nature, you won’t think they are worth much. It is very hurtful to yourself to judge your worth on something you are not able to do.

“Rise and Shine”. That is a phrase that i choose to live my life by. I do not really know where it originated from, but the way i see it, if you wake up in a good mood, you will have a good day. Stay positive, don’t beat yourself up over little things throughout your day. Don’t tell yourself you are worthless because you can’t hit a ball or because you tripped running the bases. Failure to do one little thing does not make you a failure. Take it from a softball player especially, Africano had the fear that she was failing coach until someone told her otherwise.

To go a little off topic of the video, i often think of my friend whenever i’m struggling. Even through all her bullying, even after everything she went through, not once did she lose faith and not once did she tell herself that she was worthless or failing at life. I think it is very important that you keep your head up, continuously tell yourself that you are worth it and you do matter, that no matter what happens in your life, you will make it through.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

An Infographic of Softball

Image result for infographic of softballAccording to this infographic, softball was created on Thanksgiving Day in 1887. It originated at an indoor game which has now evolved into an outdoor game. It gained the name “Softball” in 1926, in 1933 the “ASA”, Amateur Softball Association of America, governs the sport throughout America.

This infographic gives examples when comparing softball and baseball. It explains the different ways and rules on how to pitch the ball. In baseball, you have to throw overhand, in softball you have to throw underhand. It also gives a brief history of softball. It gives you the names the sport has bared over the years. It started out as “Indoor Baseball”, which if you ask any softball player, we’re pretty passionate about how softball is NOT the same as baseball. The second name honored to the sport was “Pumpkin Ball”. I’m not really positive how that name came to be given that neither a baseball or a softball look like pumpkins; pretty far from it actually.

Part of this timeline is stationed in 1889 when a “Winter League” was formed in Chicago. Fireman, Lewis Rober*, decided he needed a game for his fellow firemen while they were waiting on fire calls. This is a perfect example of the sport, although Lewis was male, it is still called softball instead of baseball. They played by softball rules, not baseball rules. The rules definitely play a big part in separating the two sports. As explained earlier, the rules for pitching are different, but so are the base running rules, the batting it a little different but not by much.

As for the rules of softball .v. baseball, they are similar which is what many people argue when saying they are the same sport, but they are still different. In softball, when you are on the base and waiting for the pitcher to pitch, you are not allowed to leave the base until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. In baseball, you are allowed to be off the base before the pitcher is even ready to begin pitching, that definitely helps give an advance in stealing bases or advancing, whereas in softball, it is harder because to steal a base you have to be quick and aware so you don’t get picked off by the catcher.


The actual field is very different as well. The typical baseball, in the MLB for example, has ninety(90) feet between bases, whereas in softball the typical distance is sixty(60) feet. The mound on the baseball field is raised, giving the pitcher momentum when he finishes his pitch, a softball field is flat, we provide ourselves with enough momentum as we wind up that we don’t need a downhill slope to help us project the pitch.

When it comes to batting, there isn’t that much of a difference. In softball you can only have ASA certified bats, which do not include wooden bats. In baseball, the MLB, you almost always see wooden bats. Very rarely do you see an aluminum or a compact bat. Wooden bats work really well when you have small objects at a high velocity, 70-90 mph is generally how fast a baseball pitch is thrown, in softball, we have wider headed bats for a bigger ball. We have less reaction time in softball, only 45-53 feet from home plate, the softball mound is screwed into the ground, although the ball is a lot slower, only 60-80 mph.
As explained in an infographic, and in my blog post, softball and baseball are two different sports, and softball has had a long history, ranging all the way back 1889. This infographic gives examples when comparing softball and baseball. It explains the different ways and rules on how to pitch the ball. In baseball, you have to throw overhand, in softball you have to throw underhand. It also gives a brief history of softball. It gives you the names the sport has bared over the years. It started out as “Indoor Baseball”, which if you ask any softball player, we’re pretty passionate about how softball is NOT the same as baseball. The second name honored to the sport was “Pumpkin Ball”. I’m not really positive how that name came to be given that neither a baseball or a softball look like pumpkins; pretty far from it actually.


Part of this timeline is stationed in 1889 when a “Winter League” was formed in Chicago. Fireman, Lewis Rober*, decided he needed a game for his fellow firemen while they were waiting on fire calls. This is a perfect example of the sport, although Lewis was male, it is still called softball instead of baseball. They played by softball rules, not baseball rules. The rules definitely play a big part in separating the two sports. As explained earlier, the rules for pitching are different, but so are the base running rules, the batting it a little different but not by much.


As for the rules of softball .v. baseball, they are similar which is what many people argue when saying they are the same sport, but they are still different. In softball, when you are on the base and waiting for the pitcher to pitch, you are not allowed to leave the base until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. In baseball, you are allowed to be off the base before the pitcher is even ready to begin pitching, that definitely helps give an advance in stealing bases or advancing, whereas in softball, it is harder because to steal a base you have to be quick and aware so you don’t get picked off by the catcher.


The actual field is very different as well. The typical baseball, in the MLB for example, has ninety(90) feet between bases, whereas in softball the typical distance is sixty(60) feet. The mound on the baseball field is raised, giving the pitcher momentum when he finishes his pitch, a softball field is flat, we provide ourselves with enough momentum as we wind up that we don’t need a downhill slope to help us project the pitch.


When it comes to batting, there isn’t that much of a difference. In softball you can only have ASA certified bats, which do not include wooden bats. In baseball, the MLB, you almost always see wooden bats. Very rarely do you see an aluminum or a compact bat. Wooden bats work really well when you have small objects at a high velocity, 70-90 mph is generally how fast a baseball pitch is thrown, in softball, we have wider headed bats for a bigger ball. We have less reaction time in softball, only 45-53 feet from home plate, the softball mound is screwed into the ground, although the ball is a lot slower, only 60-80 mph.

As explained in an infographic, and in my blog post, softball and baseball are two different sports, and softball has had a long history,