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Discussion: softball strike zone

Posted Discussion
March 5, 2007
curty
Men's 60
107 posts
softball strike zone
maybe it's time to update the strike zone for softball. We still use a baseball zone, despite the progression of the game and equipment. A thought might be to widen the mat behind the plate by one inch in every direction, allowing a pitcher to throw curve balls,etc. for strikes. The current zone evolved as baseball progressed, and was not adjusted to slo-pitch. I realize that the 1 & 1 count is being used more to speed the game up, but c'mon, 34" bat, 12" ball and all these big arms can hit a slo-pitch at will. Any thoughts?
March 5, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
I play in Canada once a year in a tournament and they use a 24" wide plate and mat. I didn't find much difference than pitching here with a 17" white plate/mat. No matter how much you widen the plate the batter's box will stay the same distance from the plate.

The only change that would make sense, and as a pitcher I would hate it, is to make the plate not a strike. Some leagues already do this and I am not sure how it works out as I have never seen any comments on it.
March 5, 2007
Longball12
23 posts
Make it a true ASA strike zone, no mat, and the plate is not a strike. It would force the umpires to call a real strike zone. Anybody can call mat and plate ball.
March 5, 2007
salio2k
Men's 60
548 posts
What is wrong with the plate and mat? If you make the strike zone larger, the batter will adjust. Removing the mat
and the plate not a strike would only create arguments. Some umpires have a hard enough time calling balls and strikes as it is now! There's nothing wrong with the way it is. If it aint broke, dont fix it.
March 5, 2007
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
I like the 1 and 1 count.
Allowing 6 feet behind the rubber.
Bigger mat.
I agree, it's too easy to hit a 12 inch ball that is usually coming down from 10 to 12 feet.
Fred-
With all respect, if you don't see much difference
when going to a 24 inch mat
then those guys aren't terrific pitchers.
A real good pitcher can curve the ball both ways
with or without the wind and is better with the wind blowing out when he can get more movement on every pitch.
The 24 inch mat allows the pitcher if he steps as far toward 3rd base as possible to throw a curve ball that is not coming at the batter from the 5-6 hole, will just about brush the batter and can hit the inside back of that mat.
I've done it a bunch of times and it's an ugly pitch
to deal with.
March 5, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
That is what I thought but those batters up there love those outside pitches so I gave up throwning outside and stayed inside.

You are throwing a slow pitch 50'. If a hitter can't pick up a curve ball and slam it he shouldn't be playing tournament ball. I love those pitchers that throw curves and knucklers.

salio2k: There is nothing wrong with the plate/mat being a strike. A good control pitcher that can hit the front edge of the plate on a regular basis puts the batter at a big disadvantage. That is why I said as a pitcher but as a batter I would like if the plate wasn't a strike.
March 5, 2007
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
Hey Fred,
You're a good man and we've had lots of good discussions
of which this is yet another.
The mound I think is 54 feet now, with the ability to go back 3 to 6 more feet in some tournnaments.
That's more room for a curve to break.
And it's not picking up the ball that's critical, in my estimation.
It's the unusual angle it's coming from
and where it is when it gets into the hitting zone.
The ball I'm talking about is a bad pitch to hit because
it's so far inside when the batter has to make his decision
on whether to swing or not.
I love talking about pitching and have in the works
a plan to make a DVD on slow-pitch pitching when I learn enough good stuff.
March 5, 2007
Lecak
Men's 55
1012 posts
Great topic. The pitch coming in off the left shoulder to a righty with curve is a bitch to hit. Remember the old days when you could foul off pitch after pitch. I have an affinity for the UTRIP style, playing alot of UTRIP I believe will get you ready for any type of pitching as a batter. I love the 3-10 basically no speed limit, the deception, if you can hit a good UTRIP pitcher you should be go to go. If your a one dimensional hitter agaisnst a good UTRIP pitcher, against a 5 man your cooked as a hitter. JMO.
March 5, 2007
einstein
Men's 50
3114 posts
Hey Joe,
I been reading you were the man from lots of folks
including the Stoneman and everyone's MVP
in Florida.
Congratulations and way to go.
There's a lot more to pitching than most pitchers including me want to let batters know about.
There's still a lot of guys that think you can't do much in slow pitch or when they don't get it all
they just weren't concentrating enough.
That's just how us pitchers wanna keep most batters and that is, oblivious and asleep.
March 5, 2007
audieh
Men's 60
242 posts
As a "mat"ter of fact, I love the mat. It takes so many of the judgement calls away from the umpire that it is good for the game and speeds the process up. I've played on both the current smaller mat and the larger one and didn't see much difference from a hitters point of view. Most power hitters tend to stand at the front of the plate and pretty much control what passes them. The base hitters tend to stand a little further back and curves and screw balls tend to break alittle more for them.

The larger mat benefits the pitcher and I think that is good. It evens the playing field alittle but remember, the thing that killed fast pitch was the lack of offense and we never want to harm the offense. I think the mat is such a good thing that the flat belly boys would love it if they gave it a shot! It's become an acceptable part of the senior game much like the extra first base and the extra home plate. Both of which i love, since the last 4 years I haven't been run over at first or home, and previously it happened about 10 times a year.
March 5, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
We use the 50' to 56' pitching mound. I usally pitch from about 51' which at that distance with my normal release drops the ball just about at the front of the plate while skirting the 6' height.

I have quick wrist and commit late which is why curve balls and knucklers don't bother me. I don't care how much movement you put on the ball you can see it all the way.

With an ump it is a different story. the batter is at the mercy of the ump on those close pitches. With a mat you can pretty much tell where it is going to hit.

Also another key point in hitting is knowing the pitcher and what he throws. There isn't much you can throw that can't be hit and I find that most pitchers are predictable what they are going to throw and when. As much as we try to mix it up we do have our patterns.
March 5, 2007
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
612 posts
I love to give corners when the ball crosses them on a good curve, but I really think that the rectangle (plate + mat) takes away a lot of controversy. I am totally against anyone taking the plate out of the rectangle because it would be too hard to tell the in betweeners (part plate, part mat). It was the same argument back in ancient times with the black of the plate (all black or part black, part white). The mat makes it convenient to create a rectangle, but I like the Canadian philosophy with the rectangle only, and you hit the target. The plate being there causes way too much thinking on some people's part. I will say that I do get tickled by the pitchers that hit the front of the plate when the batter is standing way back in the box, that is senior softball.
March 5, 2007
ssalt
Men's 70
9 posts
einstein: I am also a pitcher. I play in the >65 bracket (Maj+) and have been pitching for the past 30 years. I can move the ball both directions (in or out) sometimes (and sometimes not)! My feeling regards bats, balls, injuries and pitching rules is as follows: The game is an offense dominated game and that is the way it was meant to be and should remain. However, improved technology in the manufacture of both bats and balls has made the game even more offense dominant and I personally would like to see some changes that will bring the pitcher back into the game at least a little bit more such as with a bigger strike zone (ie., larger mat or even a bigger 'rectangle') so that we can curve the balls in or back them in on the outside (as you said) . I will be in Palm Springs and would love to talk to you. Look me up (I'm with the Angels). I don't know who you play with.
March 5, 2007
stonesthrow
3 posts
Hey guys, great topic. Read alot here but hardly ever post.
Just wanted to add that I played a tournament few months back that used a plywood mat. Yes, wood. Sounds crazy but you know what ? When it was a strike I could hear it in the OF. The biggest difference was the edge of the "mat".
When the ball hit the edge their was no question about it.
The ball would go 90 degrees. I know it sounds funny but it worked.
March 5, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
As a pitcher if I can't hit it as it is, I need to move out of that position. One can move back to the 56' mark, if 50' is too close. In Lincoln, Ca they have a ceramic type or sounding plate. It's and all one piece and makes a really nice sound when you put that ball on any part of it. You know you hit it.
I've seen mats as wide as 22". All it does is make it easier for a bad pitcher to find.
Leave well enough alone.

March 5, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
I totally agree with taits. I am a good control pitcher and can consistently hit the inside and front edge of the plate/mat. No curves, knuckle balls or whatever you can dream up just plain old spotting the ball in a location. You could make the plate 12" wide it wouldn't make any difference. the bigger strike area just helps the not very good pitchers.

stonesthrow: We have use the wooden mat for the 12 yrs that our league has been in existence. This takes the ump entirely out of the ball/strike area of the game.

Remember I important thing after we all put our egos aside the only way we get batters out is the impatience of the batter. If all batters had good patience it would be hard to get anyone out.
March 6, 2007
curty
Men's 60
107 posts
the main concern here seems to be from pitchers that are very good, however, at the T O C in Lakeland it was very windy and even the best pitchers I saw had more walks. This led to some short inning games. Many of the balls might have been strikes if called by an umpire, giving the corners.Also, by definition, if the ball enters the srike zone--between the knee and shoulder, and is OVER the plate, this is a traditional strike, A ball that hits the plate with arc on it, passes. through the srike zone.
March 6, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
Wind... Who cares ?
Only really matters to me if over 20mph.
Practice before a game, learn to adjust. If you can't do it, get someone who can.
Great for hitters if blowing out, great for defense in blowing in. Sideways is no big deal.
Both sides get what ever it is.
March 6, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
Curty:
I've played that strike zone and that is a challang until you get used to it, then it is just another zone.
March 6, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
curty: that is why I always stress good control for a pitcher and forget about curves, kucklers etc. Work on your control and hitting spots and the edge of strike zone. When it is windy give me a pitcher with good control. A pticher with good control learns and feels how to play the cross breeze's and uses it to his advantage.

Last time I pitched in windy conditions at a tournament I actually pitched a shot out.

Gary 19:
What is the height of the batter have to do with anything. I have pitched without the mat and I don't remember worrying about the height of the batter.

I basicaly pitch to a spot and most times don't even pay attention to the batter.
March 6, 2007
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
612 posts
Gary, I am quite a bit under 5' 8", and I am one of the few that tries to enforce the shoulder - knee in regular softball because I have been rung up on a pitch a couple of feet over my head because of the infamous dime umpires. So I whole heartedly agree with you, but in senior softball the leveler is the target which totally eliminates the dime calls by the umpire. I would rather bat with the plate/mat than to worry about whether the umpire is going to ring me up on a pitch that I can not possibly reach. So it levels the playing field, but those of us much smaller or taller may not get quite the pitch that we would with decent umpire (no dimes allowed). It's a trade-off for me batting. The plate/mat is fairly easy to call with very little judgement required; so it is easy for umpires.
March 6, 2007
mad dog
Men's 60
3939 posts
g-19 you are very smart i see,i didn't realize that a taller player would have a higher strike zone,i'm glad you cleared that up for me.

now back to subject on hand,i like the mat as a batter and a pitcher.it takes the uneven judgement out of the umpires hands.most umps now a days just don't know how to call the strike zone,they actually look to see where it lands in the dirt behind the plate,so why not use the mat anyways.
March 6, 2007
softballer
Men's 55
560 posts
omg i've seen your strike zone! lol thats why we sent you to texas
March 6, 2007
T-REX
64 posts
I pitched in the super majors for years and didn't pitch much in the 50's however I love the plate being a strike and the mat for a couple reasons.With a higher arc and a batting standing even with the plate and the ball lands on the plate it does pass all the way thur the batters strike zone and theres no complaint if the ball hits the mat or the plate it is what it is.Leaving the umpire to determine the strike zone such as in USSSA rules it can be ankle high and still a strike and the speed hmmm,I'm almost 6ft7in obviously I'd like it alittle higher. Letting the pitcher move back is great ,it helps protect them and I'm for that and maybe a bigger mat making the hitter adapt as opposed to the pitcher.
March 6, 2007
mad dog
Men's 60
3939 posts
softballer what chu mean,just b/c your 6'6" and i'm only 5'9"
:):):)
whats up monte,who ya playing with this yr.i'm going with "team texas" (55's)as we will be called this yr.
March 7, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
As for strike zones, like u-trip has, the only difference height makes is the height of the batter, NOT the pitcher. If a jolley green giant or a short dwarf or little person\people can lay a ball in between the batters knees and shoulders onto a mat or plate, more power to them. Go for it.
March 7, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
Mad dog, how'd you do in Fla?
March 7, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
There has to be one wise guy in group.
March 7, 2007
SouthernLeather
22 posts
Pitched USSA, ASA, ISA, NSA, and in Senior Softball.
Hitting with the mat is usually easier because the strike zone is smaller and left to no interpretation. But I don't think making the mat bigger adds anything, it's fine the way it is.

But there is one thing I would love to see at parks and that is for the umpire...a piece of tape, or mark on the fence which shows the height for the leagues that are played at that complex.

The old rule of an umpire calling height based on whether or not is is visible underneath the visor is ridiculous. It doesn't work the same for an umpire 5'8 and an umpire 6'3.

And many umps have no idea where 10 or 12 feet really is....An ump who doesn't let the pitcher throw the full 10 or 12 might as well go to the trunk of the car and get the tee out for everyone to hit off.

Good teams that begin to have problems with the pitcher ALWAYS whine about the heighth....and having a mark/peice of tape on the fencepole would be a help to all.

Eliminate the guesswork, mark the height.

Last, forget about making the ball move (yes I do) pitching is really about momentum and reading the hitter. That's about the most you can do....but once you get in a team's head a little, you have a chance of slowing them down.

And getting that twin killer up the middle doesn't hurt stopping those big rallys either...



March 7, 2007
salio2k
Men's 60
548 posts
I don't know about the rest of you, so I can only speak about myself. When I was growing up, I did not play slo-pitch softball. I played baseball, then fast pitch softball. Those strike zones had nothing to do with a slow, high arc pitch. I can't see the comparison. I briefly played "Chicago"
with the 16" ball, but that is an entirely a different game. I like the mat because it takes the guess work away from the ump.
March 7, 2007
T-REX
64 posts
taits...In usssa I thought the pitch was determined by the maxium height it reached on the way to home plate...I've had pitches ankle high called strikes & needed a pitching wedge to hit it...as for the fence post deal in center field,its a sight line for the umpire to call the height,which isn't bad,but won't happen.Having played all over the country,some umps call it high some call it low,you have to gauge the zone by each one ,but the matt is the matt...no discussion.
March 8, 2007
taits
Men's 65
4387 posts
t-rex: Height limit (ie: 6-12; 6-10 or what ever) is supposed to he the max height reached. As is the low side of it.need to be at least that height.
In my opinion the majority of umps do a good job of determining these but some don't know a flat one from a high one. As long as they are CONSISTANT with their calls for BOTH sides, then one should leave it alone.
Other stuff was not my post...but I've seen those pitches as you described as well.
I guess there could always be added another machine to help solve this problem. Use wide angle lazer light beams, that cross the pitching field. Device makes a sound if the ball does not go above minimum height or it goes over the maximum height on each pitch. No intrusion onto play field, all attached to fence on outside. But you'd need them on each field and could get costly. I think these exist, are simular to the bat speed devices, & more powerfull.
No matter how bad any type of call (pitch, play, whatever), if the same one is used for both sides, it's RELATIVELY fair. Just NOT a good one.
March 8, 2007
Fred Scerra
Men's 80
542 posts
It comes down to one simple answer,(it's the same at all levels), good pitchers who have good control adjust to what the ump is calling that day.

The biggest complainers from what I see over the years are the pitchers that can't control where the ball goes and lands.
March 8, 2007
Proudtex40
57 posts
Although I scan this site daily I rarely respond, but this is a great subject. I would definitely support the plate and mat being a strike. Then you only have to worry about the ump being consistent with the arc. Of course being a pitcher on occasion I certainly support the idea of the pitcher having the 6 feet to play with behind the pitching rubber. Just need to make sure the pitcher doesn't take advantage of the 6 feet by making it 10 feet (which I'm guilty of when I can get away with it.) God bless all of you!
Steve (Proudtex40) Shannon
March 8, 2007
griz
Men's 50
7 posts
I say we have a laser set at 10' or 12' that would beep every time a pitched ball hits that mark, something like they do in a tennis match to see if the serves are in play or not.
March 8, 2007
diehard
Men's 55
245 posts
Over the years I have gotten used to the mat , and it feels strange when I play in tournaments that don't use them . I don't think that they need to be larger , I think thay are fine the way they are . But since it almost eliminates the umps job behind the plate , maybe they should stand to the first base side so they can judge the height of the arc better . And this would leave them in a better position to call plays at first base .
March 8, 2007
diehard
Men's 55
245 posts
For the most part I think the umps do a fine job where they are . And it is probably safer for them where they are . But the mat does take something away from their job . and by this I mean that alot of umps are just looking to see if the ball hits the plate , and not paying much attention to the height of the arc . Not all , but some do . Balls sometimes come in so low , and flat , hit the corner of the plate and are called strikes . With a 1 & 1 count to start with you're down 1& 2 before you know it . I was trying to think of a way to force the ump to judge the arc .
March 8, 2007
T-REX
64 posts
There's a couple things for certain...we're all guilty of swinging at bad pitches so it evens out with bad umps and we all love playing the game as long as the same rules apply for both teams...
March 8, 2007
diehard
Men's 55
245 posts
T-Rex , Hope you are doing well . Played against you many times , down O.C. and in Glen Burnie , and the way you hit it's hard to believe you ever swung at a bad pitch . At least you never did when you played against me . Didn't see you last year , Damon's had a great year . It 'd be nice to see you out there this year .
March 10, 2007
T-REX
64 posts
Thanks Diehard...yes I swung at alot of bad pitches,hell my theory was swing hard in case you hit it...I hung up the spikes, 52 consecutive seasons of baseball and softball was enough.No more aches or pains,I do miss it,but hey now I go fishin'....good luck this year to all,be safe !
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