Sac State softball team uses superstition to gain mental edge

Superstitious rituals in softball, baseball can be traced back generations


Photo courtesy of Hornet Athletics

Sac State’s softball team huddles around sophomore outfielder Charizma Guzman as she hypes the team up during a pre-game ritual. The team has many superstitions, from some players braiding their hair a certain way, to never touching the foul line as they leave the field.

Travis Boudreau

Former first baseman for the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees Jason Giambi was famously known for slipping on a gold thong whenever he was mired in a hitting slump.

While not as eccentric as Giambi’s strange choice of in-game undergarment, Sacramento State’s softball players use their own brand of superstitious rituals as a way to give themselves a mental edge over the competition.

Senior right-handed pitcher Savanna Corr said that the reason softball and baseball players practice superstitious rituals is because of the nature of the game and the failure that comes with it.

“Slumps are real in softball and baseball,” Corr said. “When you find something that might help you out of your slump whether that be like this pair of socks, this lucky hair tie, when you are wearing that certain thing, when you find that little tick, you just believe in it because sometimes you don’t believe in your own physical abilities.”

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For Corr, her routine requires eating the same exact breakfast before every home game. It is Corr’s way of maintaining a consistent pre-game routine.

She goes to Noah’s Bagels and orders a coffee and a six-cheese bagel sandwich with mayo, turkey, egg and cheddar.

“It is such a mental sport because of the failure of it,” Corr said. “So when you find things that you feel are making you fail less, you want to stick to that.”

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Corr said she practices some other smaller superstitious rituals as well.

“I wear my hair the same every game day and Kailie Hargis braids my hair every time,” Corr said. “I won’t let anyone else braid my hair. I don’t know why.”

Corr believes herself to be the most superstitious player on the team, but says that plenty of her teammates and coaches have their own unique superstitions as well.

Senior third basemen Sydney Rasmussen said she doesn’t clean off her bat at all throughout the season and that she has been practicing this superstition since her freshman year of high school because it has always worked for her.

“I just feel that if I clean it off, it clears the season and I do not like the way that sounds,” Rasmussen said. “If you clean it off, the season is just kind of washed away.”

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Rasmussen said these superstitions make the game more fun because the players call each other out whenever they are caught doing them and it makes everyone laugh.

Kailie Hargis, a redshirt freshman and middle infielder said that one of the biggest team superstitions is never stepping on the foul lines during warmups.

“It is really funny because when we are doing warmups, we do them off to the side between the dugout and the foul lines and so if we get a grounder close to the white lines, we will try any which way to field it while avoiding stepping on the white lines,” Hargis said. “So, we are like jumping around and doing all this [ to avoid the lines].”

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Hargis said she has to put on her cleats the same exact way every time and has a specific process for tying her shoes.

“I don’t know when it started,” Hargis said. “It was just something I started to do when I was putting on my cleats and then it just became a habit.”

Hargis sees softball as a mental sport and believes that focusing on those little routines and superstitions can always influence good outcomes in games.

Head coach Lori Perez said softball is naturally superstitious because of the amount of routine that goes into the game.

“Being able to be in the right mindset if something feels off, it could affect how you play. So making sure our routine stays similar is extremely important,” Perez said. “You see that with batters. They have routines with their gloves when they are hitting, or maybe wiping the dirt off their feet or kicking the dirt around.”

Perez says that she has many of her own superstitions, but the one that stands out the most is that she cannot touch the infield ball when the team is doing its in-between inning throw-arounds.

“If that ball comes in the dugout it does not touch my body because then, bad things happen,” Perez said, while laughing.

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When asked to clarify what kind of bad things happen, Perez went into further detail.

“Every single time, a home run has been given up,” Perez said. “Literally, I’m not even kidding. One time the ball rolled in and hit my foot and the next one went out.”

Perez said that she has actively practiced this superstition since 2006.

Based on personality alone, Perez said the most superstitious player on the team would be a toss-up between Corr, Suzy Brookshire or Katie Vretzos, but said she believes that all the players are a little kooky in their own ways.

From former professional ball players like Joe Dimaggio tapping his toe on the second base bag every time he ran back to the dugout between innings to Jennie Finch warming-up for exactly 27 minutes prior to each game she pitched, superstitions have always been a tradition for baseball and softball athletes.

“We are odd birds, we are an odd sport, but it makes it more fun,” Perez said.