Heidelberg University is an NCAA Division III school in Tiffin, OH. They are a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference. Heidelberg University’s baseball team has used Rapsodo monitors for the past few years.
During my freshman season (2016), the program was ranked 12th in the nation. Our program was in shock when we finished the year with a record of 18-22.
Most recently, the 2019 season ended with our program finishing the year as Conference, Mideast Regional, and Mideast Super Regional Champions, making it to the Division III College World Series.
This turnaround couldn’t have been possible without the usage of Rapsodo technology. Heidelberg’s program invested in the pitching unit, Rapsodo PITCHING 1.0, for the 2017-18 season.
At first, we didn’t know how to use the Rapsodo data. Our pitching coach was intrigued with the data points from the 1.0 unit and began to research how we can use that data to improve each player on our pitching staff.
“As a pitching coach, your main job is to know and understand your pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses. Our Rapsodo unit was able to aide myself as well as our pitching staff in understanding what pitches are effective for them and why,” Tim Cronin, former Heidelberg University pitching coach and current assistant coach at Seton Hill University (DII), said. “While the Rapsodo has become popular for adding and designing new pitches, we found the most benefit in simplifying our pitchers’ arsenals.”
We first focused on fastballs and then moved our attention to other pitches in our arsenal once the individual mastered his fastball.
“A lot of our 4-5 pitch mix arms became 2-3 pitch guys, with better feel and effectiveness for those pitches. Without the Rapsodo, we would be doing a lot of guess work in deciphering which pitch is good and which is not. The Rapsodo and its capabilities became an invaluable asset for our players and staff,” Cronin said.
Many guys on our pitching staff started to throw their pitches more efficiently. In fact, the pitching staff was the anchor of our team, with the strides made possible by Rapsodo. We did well that season but missed our conference tournament in a three-team tie-breaking decider of runs.
The program then invested in the Rapsodo PITCHING 2.0 unit based off 2018’s results. My teammates and I weren’t shy about showing each other our Rapsodo numbers. Instead, we would help each other master our “stuff” if we noticed outliers on a specific pitch’s data.
The 2019 season is when we really started to understand the meaning of the Rapsodo data. As a pitching staff, we collectively bought into the idea of being a strong suit of the team’s upcoming season.
The culture of the pitching staff was impacted greatly because of Rapsodo’s offerings. In the end, that helped lead us to the Division III College World Series for just the second time in program history.
Looking towards future seasons, Heidelberg’s players now have access to Rapsodo’s HITTING 2.0 unit along with the PITCHING 2.0 unit. The program maximizes the potential of these units and uses them together.
As we are all aware of, Heidelberg’s 2020 got canceled along with all other NCAA spring sports. However, the team used the data provided by Rapsodo to scrimmage in the winter months leading up to the 2020 season opener.
When I asked the ace of our pitching staff, Ross Thompson, about how he uses the outputs of the Rapsodo units to his advantage, this is what he said:
“I think the biggest thing I used the Rapsodo for would be the release points and ball flight path. I think it really helped me identify whether I was telling my pitches off to hitters, if I dropped my arm on off speed pitches, and seeing just how much I needed to adjust my arm angle. The Rapsodo unit also helped me sequence at-bats better. I could see what the hitter saw and, from there, I adjusted the sequence to get more swings and misses.”
The Heidelberg players have to challenge each other to competitions during practices in order to earn their alternate hat used during the season. Many decided to use the exit velocity measure provided by the HITTING 2.0 unit to accomplish this.
While the 2020 season was canceled, Heidelberg’s baseball team will be ready for the 2021 season thanks to the exercises they will be able to do with their Rapsodo units.
All images courtesy of Mason Hainey and Mason Hainey Photography.