Better Hitting in Colleges with uHIT

Case Studies from the uHIT College Partnership Program.

All used uHIT Custom during the 2020-2021 season.

How uHIT directly affected on-field results in games.

 July 15, 2021

Cal State Fullerton Softball (D1) and Other Colleges Saw uHIT Impact Like This.

Below, we look at each of their improvements and unpack how they used uHIT Custom.

Cal State Fullerton Softball | +121 OPS Points

In Fall 2020, when many programs were figuring out how to navigate the COVID-19 restrictions on practice, Cal State Fullerton Softball and Head Coach Kelly Ford took a proactive approach. Ford, with Hitting Coach Caitlin Grimes, successfully applied for the uHIT College Partnership Program (click here >>> to learn more) and secured uHIT Custom Training for his hitters that fall.

Continuing their uHIT Custom Training in Spring 2021, Cal State Fullerton Softball hitters racked up 4894 pitches on uHIT Custom. Ford and Grimes prioritized pitch recognition for their hitters and got substantial buy-in from their hitters.

With Assessments done in Fall 2021, uHIT’s effects over several months could be seen clearly. (Because of NCAA rules, we will only identify players without last names here.) Bailey started her uHIT Custom experience with an Assessment of 56% Accuracy and a Reaction Time to the zone of 0.570 sec. As a reference point for these numbers, 100% Accuracy would mean Bailey identified every pitch type perfectly, and either tapped or held a tap when doing so in uHIT. On Reaction Time, an optimal time to the zone from our research shows around 0.600 sec for the Assessment pitch speeds. So looking at Bailey’s numbers, she was well below the Accuracy and faster than the Reaction Time goals for pitch recognition.

Now, fast forward to the Spring 2021 season, and after 521 pitches of uHIT Custom Training, Bailey is now pulling an Accuracy of 75% (a +19% change). Most importantly, she is recognizing time she has as the ball is approaching and utilizing that extra time to improve her Accuracy in pitch recognition. We can see this from her Reaction Time increasing (i.e., slowing down) from the training to 0.587 sec (a +0.017 sec change). Going into next season, the goal for Bailey’s hitting will be to keep increasing her Accuracy (first) and then to maintain that Accuracy, while decreasing her Reaction Time (second). This goal sequence will help her get on base more (better Accuracy) and drive the ball with more power (better Reaction Time). And this sequence would all be automated by the uHIT Custom Training program directly in uHIT for Bailey.

We can look at more players like Jack to see their changes from Assessment to later Re-Assessment after Custom Training:

  • Megan: 48% Accuracy to 57% Accuracy (303 pitches)

  • Katelyn: 0.612 sec Reaction Time to 0.492 sec Reaction Time (258 pitches)

  • Remington: 0.495 sec Reaction Time to 0.367 sec Reaction Time (391 pitches)

For Katelyn and Remington, it is important to note that these speedups in Reaction Time happened with minimal change in their Accuracy. So they were both getting faster to the zone, without sacrificing pitch selection. Extending these types of changes across the 24 other hitters of Cal State Fullerton, we can see where a +121 point change in OPS might have come from. Of course, not all hitters took to uHIT like these four, but the team effects are measurable in more ways than just one player at a time. To look at this more closely, we looked back to the last full season Cal State Fullerton played and compared that season’s team hitting to this season’s.

In 2019, Cal State Fullerton Softball had an older team than in 2021. Generally, an older team of hitters is more experienced and capable of better decision making at the plate in real games. Based on that, anyone would expect the 2021 team to have poorer decision making at the plate than the 2019 team. And these decisions should reflect in measures like on-base percentage and/or slugging percentage, both flexible measures of at-plate decision making for getting on-base (in any fashion) and driving the ball with power.

Yet, despite these differences in experience, the 2021 Cal State hitters out-performed the more experienced 2019 hitters:

  • OPS in 2019 | .810

  • OPS in 2021 | .931

When we breakdown these numbers by getting on-base (OBP) and generating power (SLG), we see how the 2021 bumped up the ways they got on-base and made the biggest change on extra-base hits. The 2019 OBP was .365, compared to the 2021 OBP of .396. And the 2019 SLG was .445, compared to the 2021 SLG of .535.

We can look at other on-field hitting numbers to see what kind of effects this boost in OPS had. For instance, the team hit +25% more Home Runs in 2021 (60 vs. 48 Home Runs) and scored 23% more Runs every game (5.8 vs. 4.7 Runs). So here we see two numbers in run production that are directly driven by a higher OPS in 2021.

So how can we explain these better hitting numbers with a less experienced and younger team of hitters in 2021? Were there any new approaches or new technologies used in 2021 that were not used in 2019? That’s where we asked Coach Grimes, the Cal State Fullerton Hitting Coach, for her take on things. She told us,

“We see uHIT translating from the phone to the field.”

-Hitting Coach, Cal State Fullerton Softball

In other words, Grimes saw that the addition of uHIT Custom Training was making a direct impact on the field in 2021. This allowed a less experienced team of younger hitters (2021) to out-perform a team of more-experienced and seasoned hitters (2019) on the key offensive output measures like OBP plus SLG. These gains in on-base plus slugging (or “OPS”) allowed the team to generate 23% more runs every game and, ultimately, more wins (+38 points in winning percentage with uHIT).

Central Methodist Softball | +18 BA Points

The Central Methodist Softball team and father-son Head Coach / Hitting Coach Francis and Pat Reardon also took a proactive approach in Spring 2021. The Reardons successfully applied for the uHIT College Partnership Program and secured uHIT Custom Training for their hitters that spring leading into and continuing through part of the 2021 season.

Starting uHIT Custom Training just in early Spring 2021, Central Methodist hitters racked up 75,906 pitches on uHIT Custom. Prioritizing pitch recognition for his hitters, the Reardons were able to get substantial buy-in from their hitters across both pitch and zone recognition programs in uHIT (measured in number of pitches worked):

  • Pitch Recognition: 45,198 Pitches Worked in uHIT

  • Zone Recognition: 30,708 Pitches Worked in uHIT

With Assessments done in Fall 2020, we can see uHIT’s effects on the Central Methodist hitters over a 5-month time span. (Again, because of NCAA rules, we will only identify players without last names to give you a feel for how we assessed, trained and re-assessed the Central Methodist hitters with uHIT.)

We first look at Madison, who started her uHIT Custom experience with an Assessment of 42% Accuracy and a Reaction Time to the zone of 0.631 sec. In case you skipped from the last section, you might need a reference point for these numbers: 100% Accuracy would mean Madison identified every pitch type perfectly, and either tapped or stopped a tap when doing so in uHIT; on Reaction Time, an optimal time to the zone from our research shows around 0.600 sec for the Assessment pitch speeds. So looking at Madison’s numbers, she was well below the Accuracy and slower than the Reaction Time goals for pitch recognition.

Now, fast forward 5 months later to the end of the Spring 2021 season, and after 4235 pitches of uHIT Custom Training, Madison is now pulling an Accuracy of 76% (a +34% change). On top of these gains, she is also recognizing the pitches much faster. We can see this from her Reaction Time decreasing from the training to 0.394 sec (a -0.237 sec change, or seen another way a +37% speedup to the zone). Going into next season, the goal for Madison’s hitting will be to keep maintaining her Accuracy (first) to drive getting on-base, while keeping a decrease on her Reaction Time (second) to drive more power to the ball. These goals would all be automatically programmed by uHIT Custom Training program directly in the uHIT app for Madison.

We can look at more players like Madison to see their changes from Assessment to later Re-Assessment after Custom Training:

  • Katelyn: 68% Accuracy to 77% Accuracy (2266 pitches)

  • Emily: 61% Accuracy to 75% Accuracy (2340 pitches)

  • Kelli: 51% Accuracy to 79% Accuracy (1256 pitches)

Extending these types of changes across the 20 other hitters of Central Methodist, we can see where a +18 point change in Batting Average might have come from. Of course, not all hitters took to uHIT like these four, but the team effects are measurable in more ways than just one player at a time. And we see that from the team Batting Average (BA). We can also see these effects manifested on the team’s run production. Again, looking at the 2021 season vs. the team’s last full season in 2019 and we see an increase of +1.5 RBIs every game. So not only are the hitters generating more hits, but those hits are leading to run production in key situations – ultimately leading to more wins.