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Congratulations to Wisconsin pitcher Kirsten Stevens

Huge congratulations are in order for University of Wisconsin – Madison pitcher Kirsten Stevens on being named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. Can’t say it comes as a surprise, though, after the weekend she had. Kirsten Stevens Named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week

Kirsten toss not one but two shutouts in earning her third and fourth wins on the season. And this after being sidelined for most of the off-season with a broken foot.

When the accident first occurred it looked like the Badger might miss the first part of the season. But with a strong work ethic and help from the Wisconsin coaching staff and trainers, she beat the prognostications and is back on the field.

And what a pre-season it’s been. Kirsten is currently sporting a miniscule ERA of 0.28, which is what happens when you’ve only allowed one run for the season so far. Over the weekend she also had a personal best 11 strikeouts against Hofstra, continuing the blistering pace for Ks she set as a goal before the year.

And the best part? Kirsten is one of the nicest human beings you’ll ever meet. Always with a smile on her face, always remembering to have fun, and always making time to speak with and encourage the young players who look up to her (literally as well as figuratively) when she meets them.

All we can say here is keep up the good work! And again, congratulations to both you and the team who helped you achieve a well-earned honor.

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About that “hardly ever strikes out”

Last weekend I was watching a college fastpitch softball game on TV (surprise surprise) when one of the announcers started talking about how the current hitter rarely strikes out. This is one of those statements I’ve heard a number of times through the years, and while it seems to impress a lot of people I have to admit I’m not one of them. Aggressive fastpitch softball swing

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of or in favor of striking out. But then, I’m not in favor of any type of out, and that’s what a strikeout is – an out.

You can make an argument that it’s better to put the ball in play because something still might happen. You can advance a baserunner, or maybe even get lucky with an error. And all that is true.

But if those things aren’t happening during your at bat then it really doesn’t matter whether the out is a strikeout, a popup, a ground ball or something else.

Here’s how I look at it. If you have a high batting average or OPS and low strikeouts, that’s impressive. But if you have a low batting average or OPS with low strikeouts, it’s not such a big deal. You may not be swinging and missing, but you’re not exactly crushing the ball either.

Not striking out can be accomplished simply by being very conservative with your swings. A slow, careful swing aimed at “just making contact” will help you avoid striking out. But it’s not exactly going to drive the ball into the outfield either.

Sure, you’ll manage a few flairs, a duck snort or two, maybe even a ground ball through a pulled-in infield. But you’re going to make it too easy for your opponents to get you out.

I’d rather see a hitter be aggressive, with an intention of hitting the ball hard, than laying back just trying not to strike out. Sure, you’ll miss a few. But the odds are a lot of good things will happen along the way. Better things, in fact.

In most games you only get a few swings at most. Be sure you’re taking advantage of every one of them. That way, if you’re ever on TV, the announcers will have more to say about the things you do than the things you don’t do.

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