Famous softball dad teams with local rec leagues

Published 5:47 pm Saturday, January 15, 2011

Most softball or baseball clinics teach fundamentals on the field.

Winning pitcher: Jennie Finch pitched on two World Championship winning teams and one Olympic Gold Medal team for Team U.S.A. Her father Doug is hosting a seminar for players, coaches and parents and for athletes other than softball players on Feb. 25 at Smithfield Baptist Church.

An upcoming clinic hosted in part by the Holland Athletic Association will be about something more fundamental than the fundamentals, and it’ll be held in a church instead of on a ball field.

Doug Finch will be the special guest and leader of the seminar Friday, Feb. 25 at Smithfield Baptist Church.

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“Finch” is a famous last name in softball thanks to Doug’s daughter Jennie Finch, who set an NCAA record with 60 straight pitching wins at Arizona, won two World Championships and the 2004 Olympic Gold with the U.S. National Team and recently retired from a six-year professional playing career.

Doug coached his daughter as she was growing up, and while he could come to any youth league and deliver outstanding coaching on the field, that won’t be his main objective on his visit to Smithfield.

“My daughter (Sarah) and I went to a clinic done by Doug and Jennie at Radford this summer,” said Les Matthews, president of the Holland Athletic Association.

“He specializes in pitching mechanics, but really to the point of preventing injury while kids are learning how to pitch,” Matthews said.

Matthews teamed up with recreation leagues in Smithfield and Windsor to invite Doug Finch and raise the money.

“Basically we’re just getting him for the money to cover his travel. He’s not really making any money off doing this,” Matthews said.

Baseball players and athletes in other sports are invited to attend as much as young softball players. Families are invited and the registration fees are per family, regardless of the size of the family.

“Parents and coaches should want to see this,” Matthews said. “Parents should know what to look for in a coach. Doug will go over dos and don’ts, nutrition, he’ll do a demonstration with pitchers, one for young athletes and one for older athletes.”

“Its angles toward injury prevention. We’ve all heard the horror stories of the 13-year-old baseball pitcher throwing a curve ball too early,” Matthews said.

“And girls, in softball, people think it’s a perfectly safe pitching motion but the same thing, especially with girls who throw really fast, can happen. If a girl pitches improperly for long enough it will injure her arm with the stress and pressure,” Matthews said.

Finch invented the Finch Windmill more than 20 years ago, a machine designed to help athletes in any “one-sided” sport, such as softball, baseball, tennis or golf, where a dominant hand or side could become stronger or imbalanced from the other side of the body. His Windmill helps performance and mechanics, including on an athlete’s “strong side” as well as strength and coordination on the weaker side.

“Doug will tell you. He told us at Radford. He’d rather help prevent injury than have to rehab an injury with an athlete, which he does, too,” Matthews said.

Softball players or other athletes, from rec-league age up through college athletes, are invited to the seminar.

“We saw him at Radford and couldn’t remember everything so we’re very excited to listen to him again,” Matthews said.

Anyone wanting to register can send a payment to Chuck Bauer, P.O. Box 6 Smithfield, Va. 23431. Checks should be made out to Smithfield Recreation Association. For questions or more information, call Bauer, softball commissioner for Smithfield, at 636-7368 or Matthews at 537-3362.

The registration fee is $75 per family now or $100 per family at the door and $50 or $75 per coach. There’s a pre-seminar dinner for $12 per person, which is only available by pre-registering.