Yogi Berra once said 'Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical'. One of his best-known quotes, the same can be said for softball. By virtue of the same, a team that aims to be considered within the game's top-tier cannot operate on raw talent alone - said team must succeed on the mental side of the game as well as anything in order to be successful.
As I watched the LSU vs. Mississippi State series from Starkville this weekend, I was surprised to see the number of mental errors made by the Tigers from Baton Rouge - a team that has a very legitimate argument as the most talent-filled in the nation.
Simple things that should be routinely done in their proper manner, yet the Tigers couldn't seem to execute on the finer points.
The catcher not throwing to first base on a third strike in the dirt, an out that would have ended the opponent's rally and left runners in scoring position; instead, the rally continued.
A botched rundown, with constant tosses back and forth, that should have seen two players retired yet all returned safely to their respective bases (in fairness, there was a lapse on the umpire's part, as well, in not calling at least one runner out for two on the same bag).
Even the coaches in the dugout weren't immune to the mental errors, failing to properly reenter a player who was eventually called out due to the mistake, wiping out a would-be RBI base hit.
This weekend's array of mishaps came on the heels of a mental error in last weekend's series against Kentucky that went viral online. An LSU catcher called time and went out to the circle, apparently not realizing her request had not been granted by the umpire. The miscommunication led to a Kentucky runner scoring easily from third base for what would eventually prove to be the only run the Wildcats needed.
If wins and losses were based on sheer, raw talent, Beth Torina's Tigers would undoubtedly be considered one of the best in the nation. But instead of maintaining their top-five ranking from earlier in the season, they've fallen to mid-pick and on the bubble for even hosting a regional, thanks in large part to these same kind of mental errors.
No matter a team's talent level, if simple, mental errors aren't acknowledged and righted, even a team full of superstars can never reach the pinnacle of success.