Being on the mound can be a lonely place sometimes. It’s just you and the hitter. The focus needs to be spot on to get them out.
It’s a mental part of the game that a lot of people don’t see. From the stands, people watching with see the physical ability the players. They will see a pitcher standing there getting ready to throw their pitch.
They will see the batter take a mighty hack. What they don’t see is the cat and mouse game that is being played between the two. The batter is looking for any advantage they can get. They are looking to pick up any flaws the pitcher may have in their delivery.
The same goes for the pitcher. They are looking for any advantage the kind find with the batter. It could be something as simple a little hitch in their swing, to raising their front foot so high before they take their mighty cut.
One thing is for certain, a pitcher needs to be able to have a short memory. They aren’t going to win every single battle out there. There are times that a hitter will win the battle and the war. A pitcher needs to shake it off and put that in the back of their mind for the next time they face off against that team.
Hamburg High School softball pitcher Beth Eberhardt knows what it means to have a short memory. The Bulldogs play in one of the toughest divisions and Eberhardt faces some of the top competition in the Western New York and the state.
There are times where she has taken care of business and other times where the opposition has gotten the best of her.
“Something that helps me stay composed on the mound is remembering the fundamentals of pitching, as well as knowing that one hit is not the end of the game and that there is still time, and that I will bounce back and get the next girl,” stated Eberhardt. “There are obviously times where I have had some self doubt but my catchers Madi Ross and Heather Haberman have also played a role in making sure I’m staying positive on the mound, if a girl hits a far hit off me, they will call time and just remind me to stay positive, and give me advice and a plan on what we want to pitch on the next girl.”
Self doubt is normal in the game. Players go through stretches where it seems nothing will work for them. Even some of the best players on the planet have gone through slumps.
What makes the good players the best is the work they put in every single day to get better. Eberhardt wants to be the best that’s why she plays the sport. She doesn’t play to just to be out there.
This is why she is working hard every day to improve and to prove to everyone she can pitch on this level.
“Over the offseason I have worked on perfecting a few of my different pitches, and just making sure my form is correct before attempting more advanced pitches,” explained Eberhardt. “I go to Kevin Hufford of Softball Central for lessons, and he has helped me with perfecting the small things and giving me tips to increase my speed. I also tend to overthink things when I’m pitching, and this is something we have also worked on. He has talked to me about the competition I am facing and what I need to do to be successful against them.”
One of the things she has done is to play summer ball. Summer ball is a great way to perfect your game without having a lot of pressure on you. You are able to work on things over the summer that you may not be able to work on during the short 14 game season.
Playing summer ball also allows you to go up against some of the best competition in WNY and the country. It also allows you to play with some of the best players, which can only help your game more.
The more you are around the players, the more you will pick up their habits.
“Summer ball has helped tremendously helped with my progression. Travel is a way to experiment with different pitches and styles without the pressures of varsity on your back,” stated Eberhardt. “I”m also able to try out different positions and it has helped me get a better understanding of plays and the rules of the game.As well as work with different teammates and gain new experience and plays through them. It has exposed me to different skilled teams and hitters which helps me work on learning a batter and where they can hit strongest.”
It’s not all softball 24/7 for Eberhardt, however. She does have some other hobbies that allows her to get her find of softball.
Having an outlet can only help a player progress, and Eberhardt has a couple in music and cheerleading. Music helps her relax and get her mind where it needs to be. Cheerleading helps her keep in shape for the rigors of the softball season.
“Some of my hobbies include, singing, playing the clarinet, and cheerleading. Singing and inspirational music helps me remain positive and gets me excited for games and pushes me to work harder,” stated Eberhardt. “When I’m on the mound or just playing a position, I can connect the motivational lyrics with my mental mindset and It reminds me to stay positive, that each game is a step toward getting better, and to remember to still have fun while playing hard. Cheerleading has given me stamina on the mound, specifically from tumbling. It also makes my outlook going into games better, even if we have lost to a team before, a positive attitude has helped my team and I stay positive in our game approach.”
When she is on the mound, Eberhardt also has one objective and that’s winning - well make it two - she wants to strike out everyone.
But, don’t all pitchers want to do that.
“I’m the type of competitor who wants to strike out every batter, to have a good battle with them and I want to make them work for their hit,” stated Eberhardt.