Softball pitching – when movement fools the umpire

Had a kind of frustrating day today at our fastpitch softball tournament. Actually the first two games went well. But in the third game we ran into a bit of a problem pitching/umpire-wise. I’m curious to hear if others have had the same issue.

Our pitcher, who is also one of my students, was really moving the ball tonight. I couldn’t see it from the dugout, but I got that report from my catcher and some of the parents behind the plate. They said she was really on.

Yet she struggled, because the umpire we had apparently couldn’t deal with left-right movement in particular. She throws a curve ball and screwball that actually break, a drop that can actually drop. But despite crossing the plate, they were being called balls. It got so bad she had little choice but to throw fatties, and started getting hit. Her catcher was frustrated too — so much so she asked me to call the pitches because she couldn’t figure out what the umpire wanted.

Of course, from the dugout all I knew was balls and hits. I eventually had to take her out and put in another pitcher. It wasn’t until after the game that I learned how well she had actually pitched.

She was frustrated too. But I guess it’s a compliment, really. She was moving the ball so well she was fooling the umpire. Not saying there’s a direct comparison, but I wonder if Cat Osterman ever had the same problem when she was 14?

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on June 26, 2011, in Pitching, Rules and Umpires. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Definitely have this problem. Except we have the problem with our rise and drop pitchers. There are a lot of umpires that just cannot see that movement.So many umpires call the pitch at the catchers mitt – not when it crosses the plate like they should be doing. Our umps like curves around here and call them if the girls are keeping them around the plate. Thing is, those flat pitches are like setting it on a tee. These older girls really tee off on them.Just have to make it easy on the umpires I guess.

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  2. This happened to my daughter a couple of weeks ago. We play in LL and have volunteer parent umpires. This guy was actually afraid to be behind the plate. I asked him on my way to the 3rd base coaches box in the 5th inning if he was having trouble seeing the ball. He just smiled and said yes. It was all in good fun, but it was frustrating to my daughter because she was dialed, and could not get a call on the edges of the plate. She ended up getting 16 Ks but also had 7 walks.

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  7. Thank you for your article,our umps like curves around here and call them if the girls are keeping them around the plate polo shirts . Thing is, those flat pitches are like setting it on a tee. These older girls really tee off on them.

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  8. fall tournament my lefty 16yrold throws an excellent curve ball, it is breaking so the left hand batters are literally jumping out of the box and the catcher catching the pitch right down the middle of the plate, the ump calling all of them balls, after two innings i can’t stand it anymore, call time and very calmly go out and ask him where is this pitch? he says well coach that is probably the best breaking pitch i have ever seen, but it is breaking around the plate and ending up behind the strike zone! i looked at him for a minute and then just broke out in a full laugh, are you kidding me? explain how that is even physically possible??? i just took her out right then. around the strike zone?? please

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  9. fall tournament my lefty 16yrold throws an excellent curve ball, it is breaking so the left hand batters are literally jumping out of the box and the catcher catching the pitch right down the middle of the plate, the ump calling all of them balls, after two innings i can’t stand it anymore, call time and very calmly go out and ask him where is this pitch? he says well coach that is probably the best breaking pitch i have ever seen, but it is breaking around the plate and ending up behind the strike zone! i looked at him for a minute and then just broke out in a full laugh, are you kidding me? explain how that is even physically possible??? i just took her out right then. around the strike zone?? please

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  10. Wow, Kim. It’s one thing for an umpire to have trouble. It’s another for him to admit it like that. That’s a new one on me, that’s for sure. Your daughter must’ve been getting some great hook on that ball!By the way, I thought this was a recent post because I just witnessed it again a couple of weeks ago in a HS game. I had to click on your comment to realize how old this post was. Unfortunate it’s still current. But I guess that’s what happens when you move the ball in an area where most pitchers don’t.

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  11. This EXACT same scenario happened to my 14 year old today. The curve is her “go to” pitch and she threw probably 10 perfect strikes in the first inning and the umpire refused to call them… everything was a ball. She ended up walking 3 in the first and got super frustrated. In our league, she is the only girl that throws this pitch and a handful of the umps have no idea how to call it! Very, very challenging for a 14 year old kid.

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