September 5, 2016
In June 2016, the University of Rhode Island Baseball headed back to the NCAA baseball tournament for the first time since 2005. In Columbia SC, the Rams took on #1 seeded South Carolina and took care of business as they had done during the entire season. Beating the Gamecocks 5-4, this win earned Rhode Island it’s first NCAA tournament win in school history. South Carolina avenged the loss and won the final game to reach the Super Regionals. But while not satisfied with the weekend’s outcome, Rhode Island was excited and gratified by what they had accomplished during the season.
We spoke to assistant coach Sean O’Brien to get his views on the season. While of course good pitching and defense played a large part in the success of the 2016 season, preparation was also a key factor in their success. Coach O’Brien was one of first D1 coaches in the nation to incorporate FastChart Baseball into their decision making process during games. Coach O’Brien said, “After utilizing FastChart during our fall season, we saw the benefits of charting our players, as well as the potential of using it for scouting future opponents”. He went on to add that the beauty of FastChart is that the more you use it, the more it pays off. “We had years of charts and notes on paper of our opponents, and were able to compile all the info into one screen right in front of our face in the dugout”. No more missing charts, flipping through pages, or having to spend time after the game compiling and sifting through all the data.
When version 1.0 was launched in January 2016, we knew there would be some hesitation from coaches. Rhode Island quickly saw value in the product and started using the iPad app. Over the course of their fall season they realized the potential benefits not only for their team, but also for scouting opponents and game management. “As one of the first to try FastChart, we had some skepticism“, O’Brien said. They were hesitant at first to implement all of the features in the app, but after a couple of intersquad scrimmages they were able to see the benefits of FastChart. Coach O’Brien added, “The more we used it, especially in conference where we had more data on teams, the more it paid off”. The coaches at Rhode Island felt there was a direct correlation to their success and having immediate access to the data that FastChart provides. During the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, Rhode Island worked through the tournament with a 38-7 run differential.
Introducing a new system into the dugout just before the season opener can be unsettling for sure. But the Rams were able to find ways to incorporate FastChart into their system. O’Brien said, “Much of the data we used to make game day decisions came from using FastChart as a scouting tool”. Like most coaches, O’Brien would watch hours of video of their opponents. Rather than use paper and pencil to chart a team’s tendencies, he used FastChart. O’Brien said, “I was able to watch video and chart a game like I was there in the stands. We were able to compile the data in FastChart beforehand, and use the data throughout the course of the game to make better decisions. The spray chart tool alone helped us better position our players on the field, which assisted us in breaking several defensive school records”.
Wanting to avoid transferring all of the data collected to game charts, URI was able to bring the iPad into the dugout and view spray charts and pitch sequences from previous games. This saved a lot of time and allowed the coaching staff to make better use of their time prior to games. “FastChart was also very helpful in the run up to the postseason”, he said. O’Brien added, “We had to generate reports on almost 10 teams in the course of two weeks between the conference tournament and regionals. FastChart allowed us to maximize our time, helping to lead to one of the most historic seasons in school history.”
FastChart Baseball is a digital charting and game management tool designed specifically to help coaches collect and manage player and game data on their iPad. Every pitch and outcome is tracked, stored and reported. From pitch sequence tracking, spray charts, and location and velocity FastChart calculates and displays pitcher and hitter tendencies for both your team and each opponent for every game charted.