The Ogle County Life
Friday, May 13, 2016
Seven pitches key to Mooberry's success
By Brad Jennings
BYRON – For Duane Mooberry, pitching is not about how fast you can throw the ball.
In fact, he said there is a big downside to throwing the ball fast.
“The faster it comes in, the faster it goes out,” Mooberry said.
And he knows. In his eighth year as softball pitching coach, Mooberry has found success teaching his students to harness the power in their wrists by throwing breaking pitches.
“I decided, I want to teach breaking pitches,” he said in the large open space built on to his home where he teaches students five days a week, six hours a day. “So I just began to teach the girls how to spin their wrists, because there are seven different ways you can spin your wrist to make that ball move seven different ways.”
Mooberry, who is originally from Iowa, was a player himself out of college. He said while he played fastpitch softball for a decade, he was never a pitcher.
“I played against some of the best men's pitchers in the world, but I didn't hit them,” he said with a laugh.
A carpenter by trade, Mooberry said his introduction to being a pitching coach came through his daughter Meghan, who 22 years ago told him she wanted to pitch.
“I didn't really know anything about pitching, but we just went out beside the house, I sat on a bucket every night until she started throwing strikes,” he said.
He also taught his daughter Jenna. Both were offered full-ride scholarships to college.
But Mooberry still didn't go into business teaching pitching, even though he said he got, “a lot of knocks on the door.”
Eight years ago he finally started what he calls Mr. Moo's Pitching Academy. He currently has 35 students that come from all over the region, including Belvidere and Genoa.
Mooberry said he focuses on seven pitches: Fastball, change-up, drop, rise, curve, screw and knuckle. He said the key is all in the wrist, although the power of a fastpitch pitcher does not all come from one place.
“If it's all in the arm, you've got problems,” he said.
Instead, the secret is powering off the mound with your legs, and developing a strong wrist and arm.
Mooberry said he likes to start teaching girls as young 8, so he can make sure they learn proper techniques early. He said he focuses on breaking pitches, because his goal is to get these girls into college. And in college, the fastball is pretty much obsolete, he said.
He points to the recent success of his student Payton Abbott, a 2015 Stillman Valley High School graduate. Abbott broke records and earned plenty of recognition, and in her four years pitching for Stillman Valley, she recorded 845 strikeouts.
“Not one fastball,” Mooberry said.
And this summer, while Abbott is home from her first year of playing for Western Illinois University, where she earned a full scholarship, she will again be working with Mooberry on her pitching technique.
He said what drives him is seeing his students get college scholarships. But Mooberry said he also loves the satisfaction of watching his students do what they do best.
“Going to the games and seeing a girl move the ball, and strike a girl out because that pitch moved,” he said with a smile. “She fooled them because it was a breaking pitch, not because it was a fastball.”
NOTE: Duane Mooberry is a graduate of Grand Valley Community School, Kellerton, Iowa, and lived in Grand River, Iowa.
Photograph courtesy of The Ogle County Life
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016