For most of this season, I loved my strike zone. Off season cage work was paying off, and I felt really good. I was given a pretty high level schedule (including a dozen varsity games), and called my pitches with confidence. Not a peep, as I liked to say. I was locked in…rock solid.
And then I wasn’t. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve left every game wondering where my consistency has gone. I had a great Freshman tournament game a couple of weeks ago, where I felt like I was hitting on all cylinders. Since then, I’ve been struggling. Thankfully – knock on wood – I’m at the stage of my game where struggling is usually limited to a few bad pitches or batters. Or an inconsistency that some might not even notice. But it’s there. Last night I missed two dead on strike threes, right at the knee, on back to back batters, and then made up for it by calling the 2nd kid out on a pitch at the armpits. Terrible. Hopefully rock bottom-terrible.
Without a doubt, the level of play that I have been working has been the biggest factor. High school season has come to an end and my recent games have certainly been at a lower/younger level. At these levels, weaker hitters take a lot of pitches. In a good high school game, no one is taking a soft pitch up in the zone. In my recent games, I’ve had to call 100 of them, right up around the letters. It’s a lot of work and a lot of opportunity for self doubt. Similarly, I’ve seen weaker (and just younger) pitchers who’s pitches are dying as they cross the plate – again, not easy to get in a groove.
The answer is, of course, “one pitch at a time”. Forget about the last two weeks – and, in-game, forget about the last missed pitch. Back to basics, trust my zone, don’t give in, timing timing timing. I’ll be all right.