Set egos aside at showcases
Softball is a competitive sport, and as competitors we like to win. But if you’re a coach taking your team to a college showcase it’s best to put your ego aside and focus on showing off your players rather than on the outcome of the game. Even if it means you lose the game.
Bunting is a good example. You may be down a run, and believe the smart thing to do late in the game is to bunt a runner from second to third with no outs to put your team in a position to tie (or win). Now, at a regular tournament, where one team will be declared the champions at the end of Sunday, I say have at it.
But at a showcase, all that bunt is doing is robbing your player of a chance to show some college coach who could use her what she can do. It’s not that they don’t bunt in college. Sure they do, and they expect their players to lay it down. But they’re not at a showcase looking for a kid who can lay down a sacrifice bunt. To paraphrase that saying popular among Dominican Republic baseball players, no one ever bunted their way onto a college roster. Unless, of course, they’re a lefty short game specialist. But even they aren’t going to get anywhere with a sac bunt.
No, even if it’s the right thing to do game-wise, it’s better to let your player swing away. She’s far more likely to generate collegiate interest with a run-scoring double than a sac bunt. Not only will it show her hitting skills, but also her mental toughness.
The same goes for pitchers. Even if your pitcher is presently dominating with her curve or rise, you want to give her the opportunity to showcase her other pitches as well. Call some pitches you might not call in a tournament game. You never know. You may find a whole other dimension to that pitcher.
Truth is no one particularly cares what your record is at a showcase. Well, at least no one who knows anything about showcases. Whether you are 5-0 or 0-5 you’re not going home with a trophy. But if you give your players a chance to show their stuff they might go home with some interest from college coaches – which is the reason you signed up for the showcase in the first place. I’m not saying playing to lose, or put your team in a position to look bad. Just remember your purpose for that weekend and make decisions accordingly. Even if they hurt.
Of course, if you do plan to go that way, be sure to explain to the parents ahead of time that your purpose is to help their daughters be seen rather than to win every game. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief and aggravation from ultra-competitive parents who believe winning is the only thing.