Out of context, a video clip of Old Bridge (N.J.) High School softball player Amanda Carney, which Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report shared on social media to their combined 5.7 million Twitter followers, appears to be an amazing gimmick at-bat from a gifted student-athlete.
Carney’s remarkable behind-the-back at-bat, however, was a designed play, one on which she had been working to freeze the opposing defense while attempting to advance a base runner, according to Old Bridge Athletics Director Dan DiMino, who shot the video.
A left-handed hitter, Carney assumes her normal stance in the batter’s box during the home first, gripping the handle with her left hand above the right hand just above the knob. Using her right hand, Carney maneuvers the bat behind her back while simultaneously squaring her body to the opposing pitcher, and switches the bat to her left hand. Carney is somehow able to keep the bat parallel to the ground, while she starts to move toward first base. What was supposed to be a one-handed drag bunt turned into a single over the charging second-baseman’s head as the velocity of the hurler’s offering created enough exit speed for the ball to carry. The video, which focuses on Carney in the batter’s box, does not show the ball’s trajectory.
Carney’s first-inning single advanced a teammate to third base and helped fifth-ranked Old Bridge erase an early one-run deficit against previously undefeated and fourth-ranked Sayreville on the way to a 4-3 victory last Thursday in a battle of Home News Tribune Top 10 teams.
Prior to becoming Old Bridge’s athletics director several months ago, DiMino previously coached girls basketball, the sport in which Carney, a phenomenal athlete, will continue her career on scholarship at Division I University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
“The transition of putting the bat behind her back was an easy one for her,” DiMino said of Carney, whose ballhandling abilities served as a transferable skill set. “She makes such difficult plays look like anyone can do it. That’s why she’s such a great player and so fun to watch.”
DiMino said he understands why, taken out of context, some on social media who viewed the five-second clip misinterpreted Carey’s behind-the-back at-bat as her showboating, something he said could not be further from the truth.
“I’ve coached Amanda for three years,” DiMino said of Carney, a first-team Home News Tribune All-Area selection who averaged 20 points per game while leading the Knights to the quarterfinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference and Central Group IV tournaments. “It wasn’t something she just did on her own. There was a reason behind it. I’m the last person to have an athlete just showboat, and Amanda would be the last athlete to showboat. Anyone that knows Amanda, knows me and knows the coaching staff knows that is far from what the video portrays.”
DiMino said Carney practiced the maneuver and that the Old Bridge staff wanted her to use it in the right game situation.
“Before the inning, the coaches got together and decided if there was a runner on (when Carney stepped to the plate), they were going to do it,” DiMino said. “They made the call. I saw the call happening, and figured I might as well record this if it works out. I wasn’t thinking it would be this big. I was just thinking this is another cool video to put on (social media).”