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Hall of Fame pitching great Mike White returns to help New Zealand softballers

posted Dec 27, 2016, 4:24 PM by Jairy Otero

Hall of Fame pitching great Mike White returns to help New Zealand softballers

AUCKLAND (NZL) – Former Black Sox ace Mike White returned to his home country of New Zealand to conduct a 10-day series of pitching and catching seminars for Softball New Zealand in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington.

White participated in four Men’s Softball World Championships representing both New Zealand (1984 and 1988) and the United States (1992 and 1996).  While representing New Zealand, he won two gold and two silver medals and was the first pitcher to pitch a perfect game in a final of a world championship – in 1996 against Canada.

During his reign with the Black Sox, his international record stood at 22 games, 403 batters faced, 113.2 innings pitched, and a 0.74 earned run average.

New Zealand – ranked No. 1 for men and No. 5 for women in the WBSC Softball World Rankings – once had a proud pitching production line. But, in recent years, the seemingly continuous flow of quality Kiwi pitchers has slowed to a comparative trickle.

White feels New Zealand’s male pitchers have “raw talent” but need to improve their control, but there is a lack of depth among women’s hurlers. “We are known for our hitting now, not our pitching.

“I’ve talked about the three tools we have, as pitchers, to get hitters out. One is speed – both fast and slow – another is movement, with spin and everything, and the third component is control.

“I really think that’s what’s hurting us right now – from what I’ve seen on tapes I’ve been sent – is our control. It’s not where it needs to be.

“Right now, with the new style of pitching – the leap and the push – it’s a little harder to develop that control. Some of these guys have been trying to find consistency of release. It’s kind of a like golf swing – if you have three different swings, or three different timings, it’s hard to be consistent.”

White believes the solution is plenty of practise to perfect the art.

When he first broke into premier softball in the 1970s, “we would only play two or three games a week, if we were lucky, and then the other days were practice”.

The current generation are playing more games and are “just throwing and throwing” but aren’t “spending the time to develop their craft”.

“Some of it is to do with mechanics, not being taught the right mechanics – body posture, strength and positioning – to be able to throw.”

White says with more softball on television, young Kiwi female pitchers have more opportunity to develop role models. Around 20 New Zealand players are on college scholarships in the United States, mainly at community college (junior) schools or lower NCAA institutions.

He would also like to see Softball New Zealand develop a national academy – “controlled from a central location” – to ensure young players here get the best available coaching and he would dearly love to see New Zealand recognised again for producing quality pitchers.

White is the current head softball coach at the University of Oregon, one of the United States’ top college programmes, and has served as a pitching adviser to the USA women’s national team. He was inducted into the International Softball Hall of Fame in 2013.

 

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