Woodridge's Porter excels by not swinging for the fences

Roger Gordon
Woodridge Bulldogs

Home runs are nice, but they are not the be-all, end-all when it comes to hitting in the sport of softball.

Abby Porter is a perfect example of that.

The Woodridge sophomore first baseman/catcher was trying to hit the ball over the fence in every at-bat earlier this season.

“Then, about halfway through the season, with runners on base we got Abby to shorten her swing a little bit and get those runs across,” Bulldogs head coach Dan Schneider said. “Earlier in the season she definitely wanted it all, which isn’t a problem, but she’s made some adjustments to help herself and the team so she could get on base and help us score some runs. It’s nice to hit a home run, but it’s nice to help us try to win, too. And she understood that.

“During hitting practice, Abby definitely has what it takes to do that, so she didn’t really need to be coached as far as her swing really, she just needed to change her attitude, her plate presence, that she didn’t always have to hit a home run.”

Prior to the adjustments, Porter had two round trippers. Since the adjustments, she has one.

“It was nice and smooth, though, which means she wasn’t trying to hit the ball over the fence.”

With her new perspective at the plate, Porter, who hits sixth in Woodridge’s lineup, has seen her batting average climb to .309. She has seven doubles, 17 RBIs and nine runs scored.

Porter put her “get-on-base” approach to practice May 14 in Woodridge’s 9-8 loss at Metro Athletic Conference rival Cloverleaf. She had two singles, reached base on an error by the left fielder on a deep drive and scored a run.

A day earlier, on May 13, the Bulldogs lost 19-0 at Wooster Triway in a Division II Region 5 Akron sectional final. The outcome, which was a perfect game for the Titans, was called after four-and-a-half innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Woodridge is now 9-15 overall and 5-8 in the MAC.

Porter has been dealing with shin splints on both legs for pretty much the entire season.

“For Abby to run is very painful,” said Schneider. “Defensively, she does well at both first base and catcher. But squatting with shin splints isn’t pleasurable, and that first step when you’re trying to go after a foul ball that I think she’d normally field, the shin splints are hindering that. I think the shin splints have affected her ability to play at her highest level at both positions. She doesn’t complain about it all, though.”

According to Schneider, the future looks might bright for Porter.

“We’re looking forward to Abby getting healthy,” he said, “which means we should see an even better version of Abby Porter next year.”