Forest's Work Ethic In the Gym Gives Rise to Dominance on the Diamond
March 19, 2002
By David Song
BERKELEY - As an opponent, if they don't know who Jocelyn Forest is before facing her in the circle, they see a pitcher standing just 5-4. The reaction of batters after an at-bat, which in most cases results in a strikeout, is one of bewilderment.
Where does she get that torque and velocity?
They can't catch up to her rise ball. They see a meat pitch down the middle and it ends up somewhere around their neck. It makes them look foolish for swinging at such an awkward pitch. She then drops a nasty change up on the opponent. The type that looks like the rise ball that fooled them the previous pitch, except this time, she pulls the string and the ball drops below their knees. Either way, they walk back to the dugout shaking their heads. What can they do?
The question is what did Forest do to become the dominating pitcher that she is today. Her first two years were nothing to be embarrassed about as a Division I pitcher. She went 47-21 as an underclassman with 460 strikeouts. Not too shabby. Then came the change - mentally and physically.
She starts with box jumps on a given Tuesday morning. You stand tall and jump vertically on to a padded box, which is said to develop explosiveness in the legs. She barely breaks a sweat after four sets of these, then moves on to a series of squatting exercises that would make any person, male or female, wobbly and weak at the knees.
You lose track of how many she does, just sets upon sets of different types of lifts that work the lower body. This isn't surprising, considering the fact that most of the power and drive in a softball pitcher's mechanic comes from her legs.
This all started almost two years ago. Weightlifting, although an integral part of any collegiate athlete's life, became serious business for Forest. She worked the mandatory hours set by Cal's strength trainers. In addition, Forest went on an intense regime of her own.
For Forest, weightlifting allowed her to become stronger not just physically, but mentality. The latter aspect has been just as important as the former.
'I didn't have as much confidence in myself (my first two years at Cal),' said Forest.
Working out allowed her to have confidence in her physical abilities. Forest realized that she was stronger and more effective out on the field, which helped to boost the psychological aspect of her game. Forest says that as she got stronger, she felt she had more of an edge on the opposition as a result of her workouts.
'Its really mental like that,' Forest said. 'You work out and it gives you confidence because you know you're stronger.'
As a junior, Forest went 27-9 with a 0.82 ERA in 255.1 innings, striking out a career-high 364 batters on just 113 hits. She garnered first team All-Pac-10 and second team All-America honors for her impressive performance on the field.
Forest's success on the diamond as a result of hard work in the gym has also been a selling point to the up-and-coming players that might not be too thrilled at the sight of weights and dumbbells.
'I think Jocelyn's been a really good influence on the younger athletes,' said strength and conditioning coach Dini Wong. 'They see that she's had some success, and they want to follow in what she's doing. If we can get our athletes to put in 75 percent of the effort she puts in daily, we'd have really strong teams. I think she's been a very positive person in the weight room and on her team.'
And it just might be rubbing off on a lot of the players. In the same time slot that Forest works out weekly, senior third baseman Candace Harper and freshman second baseman Jessica Pamanian also lift weights.
'If you're somebody that just comes in and does a couple of sets and are not really doing as much as you're supposed to be doing, than you're not going to see results because you're not really doing anything,' said Forest. 'But if you do focus on it and take it seriously, I swear that you will see results.'
Results are something that is apparent in Forest's career. In 2002, she's already tallied 179 strikeouts in 123.1 innings of work. While striking out 37 in the Sacramento Capital Classic en route to all-tournament honors, Forest overtook Leslie Partch (1979-82) for second place on Cal's all-time strikeout list and has also broken the 1000 strikeout barrier, currently sitting at 1008.
Certainly, she has dominated the opposition. Her record at the moment, 12-5, is an impressive mark for the average pitcher, but not for Forest. Take into account that four of her five losses were one-run, low scoring affairs, she has performed admirably even through the struggles of a 29-9 team that performs in the shadow of a 2001 squad that started the season 32-0.
Her ERA of 0.91 and just 21 base on balls in 17 starts, point at her accuracy and control of the game. Clearly, her physical conditioning has a factor on the field, and Forest will be the first one to tell you that.
'I really bought into weightlifting and it's made all the difference in the world.'
Just make sure to tell the opposition that. More people this season are aware of Forest, which is a good thing. Or else the next clueless player will be victim No. 1009, 1010, 1011 ... you get the drift.