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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • how are you using it?

    Based on my experience, some of the times posted in this thread are out of sight...Jake's numbers seem to be the most appropriate. How are you guys using the gun? Are you tracking the ball as it leaves the pitchers hands or as it crosses home plate? 46" 50' or 60'6"? I'm not a proponent of the gun until HS, until then, ask the kids who throws hard and they'll know. jima

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    • I will say this about the radar gun. My boy has pretty much lost interest in it. I guess it's kind of like a new toy and once the "new" wore off he really doesn't care anymore. He's thrown as hard as 57 but usually throws about 53 to 55. So he knows what he throws. He really likes to work on hitting the mit and he loves to throw his changeup and two seem fast ball. When he throws his off speed for a strike I can see a big smile on his face. He also throws what I call a "football curve". It's not a true curve (so it's safe for the arm). It may curve a little but the "football curve" is really a great way to throw an off speed pitch.
      Also, my boy is on a great team now and every one of those kids have good arms. Not a single kid has wanted to know how fast they throw.

      I would love for my boy to throw 60mph but I just don't think that's going to be possible until he gains some weight. He weighs 84 pounds now and throws as high as 57. He really just doens't have any meet on his bones to get the ball up much faster. Regardless, he has the best defense behind him he's ever had so all his coach wants him to do is throw strikes. I'm fine with that....actually I love that.

      I still use the radar gun about once or twice a month just to see how he is doing. I've also learned to tell how fast a pitcher is throwing without the gun. I'm almost never off by more than a couple of miles an hour without the gun so I can see what coaches mean when they say they can tell how fast a pitcher is throwing without using a gun.

      Finally, I will say this (again). The radar gun was good for my boy because it kept him interested in baseball at a point in his life when it was hard to keep him interested. Now he's moved on and he wants to hit more homers ;-)

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      • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
        I will say this about the radar gun. My boy has pretty much lost interest in it. ;-)

        Hey Sparks, Thanks for the update. I am glad things continue to move in a good direction for him and hope all that is not baseball is going well. Keep us posted.


        Radar Gun???:silent:
        "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
        - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
        Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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        • Sparks, great to get the update. There's not a week that goes by that I don't wonder about his situation, and it's great to get good news about him.

          It sounds like your youngster's exactly where he needs to be. You don't get better by playing with kids you're better than, and it seems that these guys will test him and keep him on his toes. And, as far as experiences go, it doesn't get much better than being truly a part of a team of really good people and being respected as one of them. I hope he's making friends there.

          Otherwise, I've PM'd you to talk about the more personal aspects of his situation.

          ~ Ursa
          sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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          • Small story

            I wanted to share with all of you something that happened in the tourney this weekend. It's one of those things that if you hadn't seen it you probably would doubt that it really happened. But it did.

            First let me say that umpires have a tough job, that's why I never argue with them. If they make a bad call then they make a bad call and you move on....no big deal.

            Well during the championship game the home plate umpire made one of the worst calls I've ever heard of in any game, much less a championship game. There was a runner on second and the ball was hit to center field. My boy got the ball and threw it in and the catcher tagged the boy out. Get this, the umpire ejected the 11 year old catcher from the game in the second inning of a championship game. No warning, nothing....he just flat out ejected our catcher. The reason was he said he tagged the player to hard coming into home plate. Both the player who was tagged and the other coach said that the tag wasn't to hard and the boy wasn't even hurt. Anyway, from the second inning on we were forced to play the championship game with only 8 players (we only have nine players on our team). Not only that, each time the ejected player was due to bat it was an automatic out. It was insane and crazy but it was what it was.

            The catcher of course was upset and cried all the way into the dugout. He and my boy are good friends and this kid has spent the night with us several times.

            In the dugout my boy put his arm around the catcher and told him not to cry. He said to the catcher, I'm going to hit a homerun for you and we are going to win this championship for you.

            God as my witness my boy got up to bat and hit a ball further than he has ever hit a ball in his life. He has never even hit a ball that far in practice. It was a homerun straight over the center fielders head and it was hit so far that the center fielder didn't even try to catch it, he just stood and watched it go over the fence.

            Of course I'm sitting in the stands and I lose it. I guess you just have to understand what that hit was to my boy. Since he was old enough to talk and swing a bat all he has ever wanted to do was hit a ball over the fence. He finally hit the ball over the fence in a championship game for his friend who was crying in the dugout.

            It just doesn't get much better than that. Maybe stories like these is why baseball is the greatest game in the world. For a day, for one at bat a boy (or girl) can be a hero and do something they've only dreamed of doing.

            Sparks

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            • brings a tear to my eye..thats what its all about

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              • nice updates. What size of field does your boy play on at most tourneys? Anyone know what size USSSA sanctioned tourneys are supposed to be for 11 year olds?



                p.s. That had to be a very proud moment in your life watching him round the bases. I hope to experience that sometime

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                • I think the potential is to get caught up on how hard he is throwing and not how is is throwing. I will not have a gun on my boy. There is no need for it.

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                  • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
                    I got home that night and emailed my old high school baseball coach. He coaches at the University of Alabama now. I told him about my boy and asked his advice. He put me in my spot in a hurry. He told me not to get caught up in all of it but to make sure my boy had fun. He said what ever I do make sure he has fun. He is right of course.

                    Ok....everyone else brag now ;-)
                    He probably thought you're nuts. If and when your son starts showing promise on a 60/90 you can start "considering" potential. Until then enjoy watching him play. Don't over pitch him. Nothing he does other than learn proper mechanics matter on the smaller fields.

                    The high school coach saw my son throwing at 8th grade practice last week. He commented to me when I ran into him. He didn't ask about performance from 9U through 13U. He only discussed his "current" velocity, control and potential based on growing over the next two or three years.

                    Never forget it's a long journey.

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                    • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post

                      Yesterday we played the championship game. My boy did something he has never done in his life. He was facing a 12-year-old pitcher that was throwing harder than any kid he’s ever faced. I had my radar gun and the boy was throwing 57 and 58 mph.
                      It's great your son is playing well. However, 57, 58 is very slow for a 12U pitcher. 10U's throw in the mid 50's. The better 12's throw at least 65. The fastest are over 70.

                      Just my advice, but put the radar gun away until high school.

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                      • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post


                        I still use the radar gun about once or twice a month just to see how he is doing.
                        Is he getting hitters out? Is he having fun? You don't need a radar gun for these things.

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                        • to me it is not about speed. It is about who can get the ball in the location for that ground out. IMO a pitcher needs to be able to keep the ball low and go in and out. If a pitcher can hit spots he will have success. Speed will come with age. Some of the best arms I have seen here at 9-12 burn out. they pitch too much or get hurt. Control the speed and location of pitches and all will be well!

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                          • Originally posted by TG Coach View Post
                            It's great your son is playing well. However, 57, 58 is very slow for a 12U pitcher. 10U's throw in the mid 50's. The better 12's throw at least 65. The fastest are over 70.

                            Just my advice, but put the radar gun away until high school.
                            I have to agree with this. Our 10U team does not have any 'monsters' and our top 3-4 pitchers all throw mid to high 50's...that's from 46ft. I was watching a 12U Travel tourney last week, and I was up in a press box with a friend...he was gunning kids from different teams without their knowledge....in honesty it was him and his oldest daughter..she's doing some physics report for school, and since she's always watching her brother play ball, and she plays Fastpitch Travel, they were charting some pitch speeds...

                            The slowest GAME SPEED fastball I saw with the 5 or 6 different pitchers we saw was low 60's. The kid was a LH and ALL his pitches had alot of movement. The fastest was a tall, lanky RH who put several across the plate well into the 70's...

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                            • I don't know what other kids throw and that's really not my point. My point was this, our team is an 11 year old team and for some reason we were forced to play in the 12 year old bracket (even though we don't have a single 12 year old player).
                              The 12 year old pitchers ON THE OTHER team were throwing 57/58 during the game. I'm sure all those kids throw faster in practice.
                              Again, my point is this.... my boy has never played baseball on this level before so a 58 mph pitcher is far and away faster than any other pitcher he has ever faced. I'm sure there are many 12 year old kids that throw much harder and I'm sure we will face some of them as the season goes on.

                              This was the first tournament my boy ever played in and he played with AND AGAINST far better players than he has ever played against before. I think he did really well for his first tournament. I fully expected him to strikeout several times and make several errors in this his first tournament. He had one error and a homerun and a natural triple and a ground rule double. During the six games we played and struck out twice. I think two strike outs was pretty good esp. considering he bats leadoff.

                              Ok, this is what I'm trying to get at... I was concerned if my boy was good enough to play in the travel ball league. I guess I was mainly concerned because of his size and weight. What we or should I say "I" learned in this first tournament is that my boy is good enough to play with and against the best players. No he isn't the best player, not by a long shot, but at least he can play in this league.

                              My fear was that we would spend all this money on this travel ball team and my boy wouldn't be good enough and it would have been bad on his confidence. So that fear is erased. Now all I have to worry about is how to pay for all of this...lol which isn't easy.

                              BTW: There was this one kid pitching in the tournament (we didn't play when he pitched) but I swear he never hit 40mph on the radar gun. It was amazing that all these great batters went to the dugout one by one shaking their head. They had a hard time hitting off this kid even though he threw so slow. It was amazing.

                              Hawk: I don't know how big the field was but it was supposed to be 205 feet, at leat that is my understanding. There wasn't a sign on the fence that gave the exact length of the field but I'm pretty sure it was 205. We do play on the big bases where the kids can steal at anytime.

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                              • 205 is a good poke for his age and size. That had to be an awesome feeling for both you you[QUOTE=Sparksdale;860636

                                Hawk: I don't know how big the field was but it was supposed to be 205 feet, at leat that is my understanding. There wasn't a sign on the fence that gave the exact length of the field but I'm pretty sure it was 205. We do play on the big bases where the kids can steal at anytime.[/QUOTE]

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