Here’s something I used to do when I was a little snip (and continued to do well into my playing days). I would get a catcher, and he would take up his position behind the plate while I took the mound, and we would play a little game we called “ball and strike”. He would position his mitt high, low, inside, outside, every which way but standing on his head :lol:, and what I had to do was get the ball smack-dab into the pocket of the mitt. We would go at this for an hour at a time, and I would throw every pitch I had—and what a good, satisfying “thwack” it was to hear the ball hit its target! Also, from time to time we would have a guy stand in the batter’s box, sometimes batting right-handed and at other times batting lefthanded, and I would zero in on the strike zone (which was much bigger than it is now). Believe me, I can’t think of a better way to sharpen up one’s control!
As far as the mental aspect is concerned—you did say you’re afraid you’ll hit the batter, because you’ve done it nine times—here’s something Mariano Rivera does and has been doing for years. Before he even starts to warm up, he takes a couple of minutes to get himself into a mindset he calls “the eye of the tiger”—a quiet but very intense focus in which nothing exists for him except getting the batters out. Then he warms up, and he takes this focus with him to the mound—along with that devastating cutter. And he makes the batters look very, very stupid. If you’ve ever seen him pitch, you’ll notice the calm, “nothing will stop me” determination on his face. He gets the ball, he throws the ball, he retires the side, and he takes a shower. With a little practice you too can attain and maintain this focus. I used to do something like that, and it paid off.
And another thing you might do—a lot of pitchers have found this useful—is, while warming up, think about pitching the first two innings of the game, so that when you get out to the mound it’s already the third inning, you’ve settled in and found your groove, and you can just pitch without having to be concerned about anything except getting those three delicious outs.
Finally—be sure that the arm slot you’re using is comfortable for you, and be sure to complete your pitches—follow through so that you end up in a good fielding position. What they call “pitching to contact” these days is what my old pitching coach described simply as “Get the ball over the plate and make them hit it. Make them go after YOUR pitch, what you WANT them to hit.” You can do that, and you can go for the strikeout, depending on the circumstances. And remember what old Satchel Paige used to say—home plate don’t move. 8)