AUGUSTA — The way to a high school softball player’s swing is through her tablet.

High school coaches are increasingly using technology as a tool to improve players’ swings. That includes coaches whose teams are playing Saturday in their regional semifinals and cite it as one of the reasons for their success.

Cony, which plays Bangor in the Eastern A semifinals, made its offense more potent by using technology to improve its players’ swings. Monmouth, which faces Madison in the Western C semis, uses it to keep up with current trends in the sport. Even Messalonskee, which hosts Edward Little and prides itself on an “old school” approach, can’t deny the impact technology has on this generation of players.

“It’s a lot easier when you show them,” Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard said. “When you show it to them, they understand it. You can it explain it to them all day long. But they want to see it.”

With that in mind, Cony hitting coach Ray Beaudoin uses some state-of-art gadgets with the 14-3 Rams to keep the players engaged and improve their technique.

Beaudoin has used swing analyzers at all levels of softball coaching, from youth to college, since 2006. In 2012, his third year at Cony, the Rams hit .420 as a team and hit 22 home runs, 18 more than the year before, and went on to win the Class A state title.


This year, Beaudoin switch to a swing analyzer program known as “Zepp.” A sensor is mounted to the knob of the bat and sends data wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet app. The sensor tracks bat speed, swing plane, bat angle at impact and other aspects of the swing, while the app provides 3D and video analysis of the swing instantly. Hitters can compare their swing to Major League Baseball players such as the Red Sox David Ortiz and softball stars such as Jennie Finch.

The sensor costs $150, the app $3.

“The girls love it because their generation loves technology,” Beaudoin said. “They’re always wanting to see themselves on video, on the computer or on the app.”

Cony saw a dramatic increase in its power numbers when Beaudoin started analyzing hitters’ swings electronically a couple of years ago, Beaudoin said. Players develop much more fluid swings when they have the mechanics broken down visually for them.

“It’s not so much bat speed, it’s the efficiency of their swings,” he said.

Junior shortstop Autumn Sudsbury has been one of the Rams’ biggest beneficiaries from having her swing digitally analyzed. According to Beaudoin, she had a very uneven, inconsistent swing when she was a freshman. Now she’s among the team leaders in hitting with a batting average over .400.


“It’s helped me out just breaking down the mechanics, getting to know each step of your swing,” Sudsbury said. “There are a lot of steps, believe me.”

Sudsbury still has video from her swing when she was a freshman and is amazed by how much she’s improved since then.

She thinks the key has been getting instant feedback on her swing and being able to practice the finer points until it develops into an easy, fluid motion.

“When you break it down in practice, you gain muscle memory,” Sudsbury said. “You’re just retaining it, and how fast you retain it is how quick your swing is going to improve.”

“When you go up to the plate, you’re not thinking about it,” she added. “It’s best if you don’t think up there.”

Monmouth co-coach Rick Kaplan said his coaching staff sends emails with videos to individual players and posts clips on Facebook to help players with their swings.


“They’re short video clips because kids today have short attention spans,” he said. “Break it down for them and move on.”

Kaplan said video has been instrumental in helping players grasp new hitting techniques in softball. Many were taught rotational swing mechanics when they were younger, but now softball experts are moving away from that to the linear swings used in baseball.

It’s taken some time for the players to adapt to the new technique, but Kaplan sites their 13-hit outburst in their 8-5 quarterfinal win over Dirigo as proof that the Mustangs are catching on.

“It’s been a long road, but it’s starting to click,” he said.

Bouchard said he doesn’t use the technology in his own coaching, as he refrains from using social media in all aspects of life.

“I don’t even text,” he said. “I have a texting captain. I tell her what I want her to text about and she texts the rest of the team for me. I’m about as old school as you can get.”


But, with Bouchard’s approval, the Eagles do have video analysis of their swings provided by Dan Charest, the father of junior shortstop Madisyn Charest. And even the old school coach admits it has played a part in his team being the top seed in Eastern A.

“That in itself made a big difference with the girls hitting this year,” he said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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