Softball

Meridian Fastpitch Softball: Building a Cohesive Team

Over the past few months I’ve covered prep sports at Meridian High School in Laurel north of Bellingham, Wash. Overall it’s fun and yet challenging.

But I must apologize to the Lady Trojans softball team for not making it to enough games. Unfortunately, due to circumstances like rain, schedule conflicts, and more rain, I missed out on covering the Lady Trojans softball games. The games were postponed or scheduled when I had other plans.

For the Cure:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian Lady Trojans wore pink to support the fight against breast cancer as they hosted the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

As a result, I missed all but their last two home games. It would have been nice to be able to attend more and give them better photographic coverage.

Photographing fastpitch softball is like baseball: you have to be on our toes, be mobile to move to different spots, and pay attention to the game.

Watching The Runner:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School girls fastpitch softball hosts visiting Ferdale High School at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian pitcher keeps an eye on the Ferndale runner during the 4th inning on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

This is the first year for the new head coach Jordan Chambers. Being as it’s the coach’s first year, so it’s a building year. New teams tend to take a few seasons to work the bugs out. But I believe with a little extra hard work, the team can become contenders.

As the games tend to be high scoring, you have to concentrate more on the game when runners are on base. They tend to defy logic and run full tilt to home when given a chance. So paying attention is extremely important.

Great Form:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Meridian player smacks on into center field as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Two major challenges I had to overcome: lack of rosters and a 7 foot high silver fence around the field.

As I don’t like not having names for people in photos as I think it looks like sloppy and lazy journalism. Having a roster would be nice so I can at least identify the girls. Who doesn’t like their photo in the paper and not their name?

Sliding In:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Meridian runner begins her slide into home plate in the 6th inning as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Over the past few years, Meridian invested in improvements to the field. One of them is a new galvanized fence. Unfortunately, the fence is still shiny silver and very difficult to shoot through. It is 7 feet high so photographing over it is nearly impossible.

To get around it somewhat, I step into the dugout and shoot through the open door. Gotta try to get clean photos. For the photos I do end up shooting through the fence, I just burn the flare down in Lightroom or Photoshop. Just enough to get rid of the spot and add contrast.

Taking Aim:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian pitcher taking aim at a Sehome player as the Lady Trojans host the Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

I think next year I’m going to bring a ladder and hook it to the top of the fence so I can shoot over it. I’ve had to do something similar when I was in college at Western Kentucky University. My friend Daniel Wallace (he now works at the St. Petersburg Times) and I put a picnic table against the fence so we can stand on it. We were shooting the game for the College Heights Herald and the Bowling Green Daily News.

We got the same photo, but since the Herald published that night and the Daily News was an afternoon paper, his was published first. As a result, the editor at the BGDN saw it and pulled mine. We had nearly the same photo. Here it is: Western 2nd Baseman Jumping.

Ready For Action:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian 2nd baseman prepares for a hit as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

One of the things I do when covering sports, I just don’t wait for action. I find compositions for players as they wait, seek subtle moments, and keep focused on the game. Again, you never know when the play happens that changes the game.

Intense:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The short stop for the Meridian Lady Trojans prepares for a hit as they host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Another Serious One:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The short stop for the Meridian Lady Trojans prepares for a hit as they host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

For the above two photos, I can’t decide which one I like better. In the top she has an intense look on her face, in the other she is ready to pounce.

Which one do you like better and why?

Concentration:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School girls fastpitch softball hosts visiting Ferdale High School at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Ferndale pitcher goes against Meridian fastpitch softball action as the Lady Trojans host the Golden Eagles at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

I see a lot of potential for Meridian as they begin to coalesce into a well-rounded team.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

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Meridian HS baseball: From the Dugout

One of the fun jobs I get to do is to photograph Meridian High School varsity sports. As part of the North West Conference Athletics team of photographers, my home team is Meridian.

Off The Tips:© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

One of the things I missed most while working for a newspaper is covering prep sports. Not just because some people think it’s easy, but because the kids really got into it.

Safe at Home:© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

These kids have heart. They have passion and drive. They have desire. Every game counts.

Out at Second:© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

And you weren’t stuck in one spot to photograph. You can move during the game. Find a better angle. Talk with the parents. Listen to fun stories. You get to really enjoy the soul and spirit of the game.

Comparing HS football, college, and the NFL ( I shot the Tennessee Titans during their first year at Adelphia Stadium in Nashville as well as other pro sports), I believe you can get just as good of photos from any of them. You get good action and reaction. You just have to pay attention.

A Hit at Bat:© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

Three rules simple rules to help you capture great sports action/reaction photos:

  • Know the sport. Understand simple things like if there is a runner on 2nd, they may attempt to run to 3rd or home when they hear the crack of the bat. Where is the smartest play?
  • Know the Team. Is the quarterback going to throw long to the wide receiver or hand it off?
  • Know the player. Is the left winger fast and aggressive? Do they pass a lot or great at footwork or both?

This is why large metro newspapers have dedicated sports photographers. They not only are great photographers, but they also know the sports and teams they cover.

Relief Pitcher:© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

Learning sports does take time, and with High School, the teams constantly change. Unlike pro sports where you may have several years with minimal roster change, every year the team changes. You can take that as a challenge or an obstacle, I take it as a challenge.

I played baseball and soccer in High School so I know the sports and positions. I like watching both on TV on occasion. But would love to attend regular Seattle Mariner or Sounders games. To be honest, knowing baseball did not help the first time I shot a minor league game.

At Bat:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

Shooting my first pro game was in the mid 80s at the Denver Zephyrs (which moved to New Orleans in 1992). I honestly had no idea what to shoot. I just bought a used 300 f/4 for $100, called the main office and said I wanted to shoot some baseball, they said OK show up at this gate at this time and they’ll escort me to my spot. I was near 3rd base sitting in a patch of grass. I didn’t have a clue at what to shoot. I shot 1/2 a roll of Tri-X and got crap.

Will He Make It?© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian Trojan boys against the Brewster Bears at Meridian High School in Bellingham on April 2, 2014. Meridian lost 5-4.

But as you progress, you learn about the game, what’s the best angle, how to stretch your creativity, how to become a better photographer. Give it time and you will see improvements.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:

Follow Me on Google+

Pablo Conrad Photography

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