Butler County Times Gazette
  • Tee off: USM softball coaches tutor area players

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  • While some people were thinking of New Year’s resolutions, middle school and high school softball players were improving their hitting skills during the University of Saint Mary softball hitting clinic.
    The 14 participants started out slow Monday and moved into more batting practice and balance drills Tuesday.
    “Monday was more about slowing things down,” USM head softball coach Michael Evans said. “Really understanding your swing and body. Today (Tuesday) we really focused a lot on balance and pushing through the ball.”
    Today is the final day for the clinic, and Evans said he would keep mixing things up.
    “We change it up as much as possible,” he said. “Kind of how we run camp is how we run practices. You are always going to have a handful of things that are going to be your core drills and beliefs that you are going to stick with, but as far as camp, from yesterday to today, and if you came on Thursday it would be completely different.”
    Players rotated from soft-toss batting practice, working on balance while hitting off a tee and learning to push through the ball by hitting soccer balls.
    “You see a lot of girls that drop their back shoulder,” Evans said. “To me, if you’re a power hitter, it’s drop and drive. That’s OK if you’re a power hitter, but I asked all of these girls if they were power hitters, and not one raised their hand.”
    Evans talked to players at each drill and gave them each instruction.
    “If you’re taking an approach as a power hitter and you’re not a power hitter, I think there’s a lot of areas you’re missing out on to be a better hitter,” he said. “We just do a lot of things that correct that and make you a better hitter for your style.”
    A pair of Lawrence High School freshmen made the trip to improve their skills.
    Sydney O’Brien and Mikayla Lockwood paired up Tuesday and enjoyed learning from college coaches.
    “It’s helpful to know what it will be like and how they want you to be in college,” O’Brien said.
    Lockwood said her favorite part of the clinic was when Evans would give her individual instruction.
    “Just experimenting with everything and getting better,” she said. “Having somebody that knows what they are talking about helps me.”
    Evans is in his first year at USM, so he said having the clinic helps build the softball program and get the community involved.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We are really trying to build a relationship within the community,” he said. “I think one way of doing that is hosting the camp.
    “To see this many kids come out and be a part of it, it shows that there is a huge interest in the softball program and in the sport in Leavenworth.”

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