Sixty feet isn’t a long distance separating Syracuse batters from first base. With a running start, it’s even easier to beat the ball to the bag. That’s why centerfielder Kelsey Johnson started slap hitting the day she began playing softball.“My dad knew I was never going to be a big girl, a big power hitter in my life,” Johnson said. “Because obviously, I am 5-6. I’m not going to get too big. It was just a better way for me to play softball get more success. Slapping and running to get on base.”Johnson and starting shortstop Sammy Fernandez use slap hitting most often for Syracuse (26-17, 7-10 Atlantic Coast). Fernandez hits leadoff and her .352 batting average is good for fourth on the team. Johnson is mainly used in the outfield, but when she bats, she slaps. With 42 runs and 16 stolen bases between the two slappers, the key is making contact with the ball. After that, their legs do the work.“It is simply speed. You have to be able to get down the line,” SU head coach Mike Bosch said. “If the stopwatch says that you can do that (slapping) is something you can explore.”Slap hitting is a different technique of hitting used by fast lefties in softball. When slapping, a player’s feet are already moving toward the first-base line while still trying to hit the softball. Once contact is made the player’s left foot will fully swing through toward first base and they begin their sprint, a step or two ahead of a normal better.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe concept of slap hitting appealed to Fernandez’s style of play so perfectly she switched her batting side. Toward the end of her sophomore season in high school she began standing lefty in the batter’s box just so she could be two steps closer to first base when she laid down a bunt. She started with a bunt, then advanced to a drag bunt before working through the different kinds of slapping.“(My dad and I) just figured it would be smarter so I could use my speed since I don’t have much power,” Fernandez said. “I don’t hit home runs anyway I might as well just turn into a lefty.”There are different methods to slap hitting. First there is the soft slap, in which the batter pokes at the ball to slowly have it land where the fielders aren’t. These hits often result in dribblers down the third-base line. The second is the hard slap. This tactic utilizes a hard ground ball or line drive to force the defense into a mistake. The final is the power slap. This strategy combines the two other ideas as the batter attempts to hit the ball as hard as possible but also into the outfield.Both of Syracuse’s slap hitters prefer the power slap as a result in the shift of the defense. Since the ball usually doesn’t travel far off a slapper’s bat, the defense shifts in to play the ball as quickly as possible. If the defense can’t make a fast, clean play on the ball, a slapper’s speed will prevail on the base paths.Fernandez and Johnson are adjusting when teams try to defend their slap hitting. In a game against Florida State two weeks ago, the defense shifted and Fernandez seized the opportunity. Fernandez watched the center fielder shift in, ready to defend the ground ball up the middle that Fernandez had already reached base with. This time, Fernandez drove the ball well over the Florida State player’s head and into the fence. She earned a standing double.The deep shot wasn’t a usual hit for Fernandez. It’s the part of her game she wants to improve on. But for now, she’ll keep getting on base with slap hitting. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 25, 2017 at 11:08 pm Contact Josh: email@example.com | @Schafer_44
ALTOONA — Legalizing sports betting is one issue the Iowa Legislature is expected to take up in this new session, and the state-licensed casinos are preparing to get into the action when they do.The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission recently approved an agreement requested by Prairie Meadows in Altoona to create an area for a sports book at the facility. “The plan if for William Hill to operate a sports book on that site if sports wagering is authorized this legislative year,” according to Racing and Gaming administrator Brian Ohorilko.The agreement provides an eight-year lease for 8,600 square feet of space, and William Hill will also help fund its construction. He says it’s unknown if sports betting will be approved by lawmakers — but the timing is right for Prairie Meadows to create the sports book space during their remodeling.“It made sense to put that into the plans while they are starting their remodel,” Ohorilko says. “So that was why — at least our understanding — why this agreement came to be at this time of year,” Ohorilko explains. Ohorilko says all the casinos have been paying close attention to the issue — but there’s been no work done to prepare sports betting areas.“Many of them seem to have an idea or a plan for where they may put a sports book or have their sports gambling operations, ” he says. “Each facility looks a little different in Iowa, and so I’m sure every plan will be a little bit different.”He says Prairie Meadows appears to be the casino that has done the most to prepare at this point. “I think most of the facilities are just keeping an eye be allowed for them to do,” Ohorilko says.The Iowa Gaming Association has been pushing to get lawmakers to legalize sports betting after a U.S. Supreme Court ruled it should not be limited to the state of Nevada.