Here's How Bailey Drapola And Pitt Are Preparing For 2021
Bailey Drapola made her decision to transfer from the University of Akron before the pandemic shut down the college softball season earlier this year. After leading Akron with a team-best 26 hits and 16 runs scored in the shortened 2020 campaign, the then-freshman infielder felt it was time for a change.
Luckily for her, Drapola landed at the University of Pittsburgh after her transfer process over the summer. Transferring to a Power Five conference in the ACC gave the Ohio native even more incentive to up her game during quarantine and throughout the dog days of summer.
“Especially when I knew I was going to a bigger school, (the question was) how could I change every aspect of my game to make sure I was prepared for a higher level and to be more competitive and to fit well?” Drapola said.
As the country faced a new normal in quarantine, Drapola found ways to practice and stay ready for a new season with a new team. She said she was lucky she had access to a gym in her home where she could lift weights and continue to work on the fundamentals of her game.
In addition to lifting, Drapola worked on a two-bat drill throughout the summer before arriving at Pitt for the fall semester. Each day, she would swing two bats and do sets of reps for her forearms to build her bat speed. That consistent workout, even without facing live pitching, helped her hit the ground running with Pitt once practices began this fall.
Another way Drapola has worked to improve her game is through watching film that has helped her get to know pitchers across the country and within the ACC, which is a big part of Pitt's preparation strategy for the 2021 season.
“We really want to identify a pitcher's go-to pitch,” Pitt's head coach Jodi Hermanek said. “And so we record and we replay certain pitches frequently so that our hitters can see a detection or a difference between pitches.”
In the short time she's been with Pitt, Drapola has adjusted and fine-tuned her approach at the plate as she prepares for 2021. Now, she says, she’s specifically looking for a difference in timing and spin rate in the pitches she sees.
“I always look for the two-seam and four-seam pitches,” Drapola said. “So a rise is always going to go up with a four seam, a drop ball is going to go down with a four seam and then a curve is more circular.”
By fine-tuning their collective approach at the plate during this different fall season, Hermanek believes Drapola and her teammates will be prepared for whatever comes their way this spring.
“I want my athletes to have the ability to adjust to (whatever is thrown at them),” Hermanek said. “We started out (this fall) as if everybody did not have access to anything and built from the ground up. We're going to take our time to help them build their confidence.”