At times during their year and a half together, it’s probably felt like a tug-of-war for both of them.
As the UL softball season enters its stretch drive, however, it’s much less of a battle of wills between a coach’s vision and a player’s instinct than it ever was.
When your record is 29-4 overall, 12-0 in conference play and your national ranking is No. 10, of course there’s an extra sense of anxiety for…
Simply put, coach Gerry Glasco wants junior shortstop Alissa Dalton to be a feared power hitter.
The problem is Dalton has a lifetime of playing the game a very different way.
Both parties now understand the actual warfare is between Dalton’s mind and her talented hands.
“Her approach totally changes with two strikes,” Glasco said. “What I’ve just learned the last couple weeks is that when it changes in her mind, it’s not a conscious decision. It’s a subconscious decision. She doesn’t realize that she does that.”
While the duo continues the long, complicated fight, the past three Sun Belt pitching staffs likely can't imagine Dalton getting any better at the plate.
The bottom line certainly wasn’t a problem.
On March 15, Dalton was hitting a modest .306. In the 10 games since then, she’s batting .613 with four doubles, a triple, a home run, 12 runs and seven RBIs.
“We’re still working on it every day,” Dalton said. “It’s just hard because my whole life, that’s never been my philosophy. It’s always been get on base so people can move you over. He’s working with me on actually believing when I’m at the plate that I can hit with power, that I can hit it over the fence.
“It’s just a process because in my entire life, it’s never been about that.”
The agonizing part for her coach is he sees his plan in action during practices and team scrimmages.
STATESBORO, Ga. — For the second straight day, it wasn’t a walk in a park for the No. 9-ranked UL Ragin’ Cajuns, but the bottom line is coach …
“I’ve always wanted to be that hitter that everybody was scared to pitch to,” Dalton revealed. “In practice, I can do it all day. I can hit the ball over the scoreboard all day. It’s just adjusting how to do it off live pitching.”
The agonizing part for Dalton is overcoming a lifetime of routine … even halfway through her swing.
“Every time I get up there with two strikes, he’s yelling at me, ‘Swing hard, swing hard,’ ” Dalton said. “I’ll even catch myself mid-swing, I’ll start to swing hard but then I’ll pull up just to make contact with it. It’s a challenge. It’s about breaking muscle memory and the philosophy I’ve had my whole life.”
To conquer her internal struggle, Glasco is willing to live with more strikeouts.
It may go against conventional old-school thinking, but sometimes the best thing for a good team is just to lose a game.
“She’s immensely talented,” he said. “On the defensive side, I don’t think I’ve ever coached a better shortstop. And offensively, there’s a beast inside her if we can bring it out her senior year.
“We were talking this morning about using the second half of her junior year to get ready for a monster senior year. She’s really excited about her potential and I’m off-the-charts excited about her.”
One issue Glasco’s had no problem selling Dalton on is his many lineup shifts. One of them even had Dalton hitting ninth for the first time in her life.
“He actually talked to me before hand,” Dalton said, “and was like, ‘I’m putting you down because I feel like you’re pressing because you’re watching all your teammates success and you’re like what am I doing wrong?’ He wanted to take the pressure off me and my mental game and just let me go in there, relax and enjoy it.”
Since he first batted Dalton ninth on March 23 at South Alabama, she’s hitting .706 in 17 at-bats with five walks.
“Right now, I’m just comfortable wherever he believes I should be,” Dalton said. “If it’s lead-off for a game, then I know he sees something I might not see. At Georgia Southern, he had me leading off and I got four or five walks that weekend, so clearly he saw something I didn’t see.
“Then if I’m in the five-hole, then maybe he sees that this is a good matchup for your swing. Wherever he puts me, I just know that he has a plan, so I just trust that process.”
UTA at UL Softball
Series: 6 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday.
Place: Lamson Park.
Radio: KPEL 1420 AM.
Online: ESPN-Plus (Friday).
Records: UTA 17-18, 6-6; UL 30-4, 12-0.
UL Hitters: Julie Rawls (.429, 9 HRs, 34 RBIs); Alissa Dalton (.409, 3 HRs, 27 RBIs); Lexie Comeaux (.359, 7 HRs, 28 RBIs). Team: .345, 257 runs, 48 HRs, 110 SBs.
UTA Hitters: Laura Curry (.420, 21 RBIs); Whitney Walton (.417, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs); Krista Rude (.380, 8 RBIs). Team: .297, 170 runs, 12 HRs, 53 SBs.
UL Pitching: Summer Ellyson (21-4, 1.27 ERA, 149.1 IP, 83 H, 26 BB, 180 K); Carrie Boswell (6-0, 2.29, 33.2 IP, 31 H, 12 BB, 12 K). Team: 1.58 ERA, 217.1 IP, 132 H, 55 BB, 224 K, .170.
UTA Pitching: Randi Phillips (9-10, 3.28 ERA, 117.1 IP, 136 H, 27 BB, 44 K); Allie Gardiner (2-3, 3.13, 47 IP, 57 H, 9 BB, 17 K). Team: 3.48 ERA, 233.1 IP, 276 H, 65 BB, 95 K, .292)