Jonathan Lampl and The Houston City Place by Marriott Springwoods Village hosted the 5th annual Texas Softball Summit on Saturday afternoon, January 11th with close to 300 travel ball coaches gathering to discuss the state of Texas travel ball, share experiences and network.
Here's how the information-packed day went in the Lone Star State:
After a short meet-and-greet and vendor show, the spirited event kicked off at 3 pm Central Time before wrapping up a little after 8pm.
The highlight of the evening, according to organizers and many coaches, were speakers Beth Torina, Head Coach of LSU, talking Tiger culture and recruiting rules and University of Texas Assistant Coach Steve Singleton’s exploration of hitting.
Lampl and Texas Bombers leader Scott Smith began the day with short opening statements quickly summarizing the plan and the purpose for the night.
Following that, “The State of the Game” panel shared thoughts and answered questions for an hour. The group on stage consisted of Rob Plocheck (Illusions), David McCorkle (Aces Express), Connie May (Scrap Yard), Scott Smith (Bombers), Jack Fultz (Glory Adkins) and Kevin Shelton (Texas Glory).
Lampl moderated the panel which included lively discussion on the following topics:
- 2019 – softball year in review (What’s Good? / What’s Bad?)
- 2020 – going forward
- State of Texas softball (How do we match up?)
- New Recruiting Rules (one year later)
After the panel, a series of speakers covered an eclectic set of softball subjects.
* Triple Crown’s Elliott Finkelstein talked College Sports Evaluation. The CSE is a new analytical tool provided by TPC to help athletes and coaches better understand and identify the optimal level of college play to target.
* David McCorkle discussed how the newly formed 5-Tool Events organization is putting together events in Texas. 5 Tool’s difference is the incorporation of in-game data as an integral part of the programming. This topic dove-tailed perfectly into Scott Smith’s discussion.
* Scott Smith detailed how a Data Driven Approach is “a game-changer with respect to player Development and Identification. The data capture in the hit lab and on the field is a mostly unexplored frontier the world club fast-pitch.” Smith also showed off a robust range of data including intricate player charts and data plots from fall 2019 action, which sent a buzz through the crowd of coaches. Said one club coach: “It is clear that any team armed with the information and the know-how to use it, has a huge competitive advantage.”
* Longhorn coach Singleton next regaled the group with hitting ideas, including some fundamentals to a successful approach. He broke his thoughts down into keys and traits he sees from prolific hitters including a “not over-thinking it” and “non-cookie cutter approaches” to teaching hitting. The Texas hitting coach shared a few drills via video and thoughts about what he looks for from recruits at the plate.
* After a short break, LSU’s Torina was excited to talk about LSU’s new indoor facility and the Tiger’s unique culture and how they helped create it. She followed with a quick outline of the new recruiting rules and offered some ideas for travel ball coaches to help college coaches do their job more efficiently.
* Shelton, the Travel Ball rep on the NFCA Board of Directors, followed with a quick summary of the 2019 NFCA Convention.
* Finally, Rusty Tabor (UIC) closed the evening with a brief review of the new playing rules for 2020 with a focus on the change in the pitching “step back” rule.
“This year’s rendition of the Texas Softball Summit again delivered on fellowship, effective sharing of softball knowledge and information with a focus on moving Texas fast-pitch and the overall game forward,” one national championship-winning club coach concluded.