A View at the Plate With Brandon Rogalski & Corissa Santos
By Chris Mitchell
WUSTL Sports Information Director
Seniors Brandon Rogalski and Corissa Santos have had a good view at the plate in four years at Washington University in St. Louis. Rogalski and Santos both rank in the top-five in career hits for the baseball and softball programs, and will celebrate Senior Day this weekend at home.
Rogalski has 199 career hits entering the upcoming weekend where the Bears will play five games in three days, and is just six hits shy of the all-time record set of 205 set by Cornell Foggie (1995-98). He is the Bears’ all-time leading hitter (.414 batting average) and is a candidate for the 2012 National Player of the Year.
Santos has 182 career hits in her four-year career with three weeks left in the regular season. She is 38 hits shy of the all-time record set by Liz Swary (220, 2002-05), and will finish second behind Swary. Santos is a career .371 hitter and is the Bears’ all-time leader in walks (61) and second in doubles (46).
1. What is your approach at the plate?
Rogalski: Hit early and often. I know that as a hitter you will often see the best pitch of the at bat early in the count when the pitcher is just trying to get ahead of you, so I look for a strike and take a hack.
Santos: I think one of the major things for me is to always remain composed. I tell myself that whatever pitcher I am facing is absolutely not better than me. As I step into the box I stare down the pitcher and say to myself "first pitch explode." Meaning the first pitch that is remotely close to the strike I am looking for I am going to attack. As a hitter you always want to be on the offensive. You want the pitcher to work around your zone so if you attack the first pitch (which is usually a good pitch) it doesn't give her the opportunity to give you junk.
2. Is hitting simple or is it complicated?
Rogalski: It’s very simple. Where people run into trouble is when they make it complicated and start guessing pitches or try too hard to work on exact mechanics.
Santos: That is a complicated question. I think both. Theoretically hitting is simple. At this point in my career I have been playing for 15 years so swinging a bat is second nature. But hitting becomes complicated because of the mental aspect of the game. Especially as Washington University students, we tend to over analyze and complicate hitting.
3. Can a hitter cover the entire plate, or does he/she need to focus on one side or the other?
Rogalski: Early in the count, a hitter should look for a pitch to hit in a particular zone, whether that is inside or outside. If you get that pitch in your desired zone then swing but if not then lay off. Late in the count, the batter must change his/her approach and look to just stay alive and hit the ball where it’s pitched.
Santos: In my approach to hitting I only cover one side of the plate until I have two strikes on me. I do this because my timing for an inside and outside pitch is completely different. So the idea being that if I am looking for an outside pitch my timing will be late for an inside pitch, but I will be able to make contact deep in the zone at an ideal contact point and drive the outside pitch. The same goes for an inside pitch, but instead I would be extremely early for an outside pitch.
4. What, specifically, do you see when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand?
Rogalski: I look for the seams and the rotation on the ball to try and pick up what kind of pitch it is going to be. Every pitch has its own distinct spin so if you can decipher what kind of pitch it is, you have already won half the battle.
Santos: I never took the time to learn how to read spins because that unnecessarily complicates hitting for me. What I do read as the ball is released is, is it inside or outside? Is it up in the zone or down? And as it is coming in I tell myself "yes, yes, explode" or "yes, yes, no". That may sound silly, but it helps me to continually think that I am going to hit this pitch until the last second when I read if it is a ball or strike.
5. How does it feel when you are in the zone?
Rogalski: It feels like no matter what kind of pitch it is and no matter where the ball is thrown, I can hit it squarely on the barrel of the bat. Some days you see that ball extremely well and it seems like you can do no wrong.
Santos: I don't know how to explain what it means to feel "in the zone". I think that when I am zoned in I am composed, confident and everything just feels right. For me being zoned in isn't necessarily based upon my physical performance, but rather my mental state.
6. What is your favorite memory at Washington University?
Rogalski: My best memories on the team occurred on our team trips to Florida. After being in the gym for most of the winter, it is a relief to play in the hot, sunny conditions in Orlando. Also, because we are together almost every hour of the day for 8-9 days, you end up coming back with some great stories.
Santos: My experience at Washington University has been incredible and to pick one memory out as my favorite would be impossible. The most important thing I am going to walk away from Washington U. is remembering the relationships and memories built. Especially the relationships and memories built on my team. Each experience and person that has been a part of Washington University softball has contributed to create a piece of my favorite memory. Needless to say, I love my Bears a lot :)
What are the coaches saying About Rogalski & Santos
What makes Brandon such a great hitter?
Steve Duncan: Consistency and focus in his approach. Some hitters will bring prior struggles into the next at bat – Brandon treats every single pitch as a new opportunity. He can swing and miss at one pitch and look borderline foolish, and then on the next pitch, rope a double into the gap. He’s never too high, never too low. He has extraordinarily high expectations for himself and wants to be the guy at the plate with the game on the line. He’s a multi-dimensional hitter, capable of hitting for power when needed but also capable of lacing a single to right field to drive in runners. He doesn’t get greedy and is content doing whatever it takes to help the team win.
What makes Corissa such a great hitter?
Leticia Pineda-Boutté: Corissa works tirelessly at maintaining the rhythm and timing of her swing. To the average fan her swing might appear different than what they’ve seen or maybe even a bit unorthodox. Corissa minimizes her bat movement by starting with her bat angle in-line with the hitting zone and simply timing her swing through the zone. Corissa has done such an exceptional job of fine-tuning her swing that most pitchers would rather not give her much to hit and that is the true testament to how great of a hitter she has become.
What has Brandon brought to the Washington University baseball program on and off the field?
Duncan: On the field he’s the guy we know we can count on to produce. He’s as consistent as they come. It amazes me that team’s still pitch to him, but they do – and he makes them pay for that decision. Off the field he sets a great example by how seriously he takes his academics. He has his priorities straight and it’s a good example for the younger guys that they can follow his lead and excel academically as well as on the diamond.
What has Corissa brought to the Washington University softball program on and off the field?
Pineda-Boutté: Ever since she arrived here at Washington University, Corissa has consistently displayed the determination to be successful…regardless of the challenges on the field and in the classroom. She consistently leads by example and has the utmost respect of her teammates and coaches alike. Corissa mentors the young members of the team to assist them with their transition to the academic & athletic rigors of collegiate sport. Her leadership and work ethic will definitely be missed!