Simulating the Path of a Fastpitch Softball Pitch

Angela Lynn Triplett

Many studies have been conducted on the path of a baseball pitch, but very few studies have been done on the path of a fastpitch softball pitch. This paper focuses on the forces that act upon a softball while in flight and how the resulting path is used to deceive the batter. The purpose of this project was to investigate and understand the physics of a fastpitch softball pitch and to determine whether the drag force is dependent on laminar v or turbulent v2 flow. A high-speed camera was used to collect two-dimensional movement of a soft ball immediately after release from the pitcher's hand. These data were then extrapolated into three dimensions. Then a program was created using Eulerian angles to find the angular velocities ω in the x, y, z direction for each pitch. A comparison of how laminar drag force and turbulent drag force affected the flight of the ball revealed a turbulent drag force dampened the pitch 0.51% more than the laminar drag force. Using a turbulent drag force and the angular velocities, a program was created to compare the collected data's trajectories and the trajectories of actual pitches. These trajectories provided insight as to when the ball should begin to deflect from its original path to effectively deceive the batter.