When a reporter tries to hit against a MN high school softball pitcher

Oh, you think you can hit a Minnesota high school girl’s fast-pitch softball delivery?

You probably can’t and if you do, it’s probably luck.

Just ask Eric Johnson, a 40-something photographer and writer with the Austin Daily Herald who accepted the challenge to try to hit against Austin High School and U16 softball pitcher Tori Gardner.

He considers it a success, he writes today, because he got a few hits. But it wasn’t pretty.

First, Tori is a quality pitcher. I know the world of rise balls, change-ups, curves, screwballs, etc, but standing at that plate and seeing a ball starting near your waist, end up near your shoulders is eye-opening or at least I think they were. Early on, the pitches were on me before I had a chance to really see what she was throwing.

I meant to get a list of the pitches Tori threw, but became distracted with just the task of picking up the ball.

In baseball, you are taught to see the ball come out of the pitcher’s hand. In softball, I tried to do the same, but suddenly it’s coming from off of Tori’s hip. I tried to concentrate on the movement — the windmill of her arm — but as it comes around you lose the ball, not the mention that once she starts rolling, it goes fast. It seemed to disappear in that moment only to reappear in Jenna’s.

Finding the timing is quite possibly the most difficult thing I had to get down. And really, it could be attributed to why change-ups in softball look so effective. A fastball gets to you quick, the short distance making it seem even quicker, but just as you get the timing down, the change-up comes in. The adage of “pull the string,” is so adequate.

Is there anything better than the sound of high school kids giggling at the exploits of the elderly?