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Slapping with Natasha Watley

Posted by Trish18 on Jul 14, 2007 11:07:00 PM

Natasha Watley hit safely 395 times for UCLA--third-highest total in NCAA history--by exploiting the defense. The slap approach may be her most potent weapon in this regard.

Wcs_013Slapping is a hitting technique that relies on speed to beat out a ball put in play. Girls who are taught to slap must be fast runners, bat left-handed and keep the ball on the ground.

A slapper gets a running start out of the batting box--putting pressure on the defense to field it cleanly and get rid of it quickly. Because the batter is already moving when the make contact, they have a better chance to reach first base safely. “When I teach it, it is two steps until you make contact,” Watley explains. “So make sure you time it so you get two steps and hit off of your left foot.”

Wcs_012Often times, an exceptionally fast right-handed hitter will be turned around to the left side for the sole purpose of becoming a slapper. That was the case for Watley. “I was naturally a righty. When I was 13 or 14 years-old, I switched to the left side and have been there ever since,” Watley shared. “It is tough to learn at first because it’s not something that comes natural. By being able to keep doing it, now its second nature for me to go left-handed and weird to go up right-handed.”

Slappers are usually found at the top of the lineup as table-setters so the power hitters can bring drive them home. Watley is one of the most successful slappers in the world. At the World Cup of Softball last year, she turned in a .421 batting average with a team-high 10 runs scored. She is currently batting .583 at this year’s World Cup. She must be doing something right.

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