Gaining an advantage on base
In fastpitch softball, it’s not always easy to get runners on base. That’s why you need to take advantage of the situation as much as you can.
Many coaches like to bunt as soon as they get a runner on base, giving up an out to advance the runner 60 feet. As regular readers know, I’m not a big fan of that, especially since it only increases your chances of scoring by two percent.
Still, it would be nice to get that runner moved. So how do you do it? Sometimes you have the hitter bunt for what hopefully turns out to be a hit. That takes a lot of practice and a lot of discipline. But there is another way. You can take advantage of the pitcher.
The key is your baserunners have to change the way they watch the game. Most runners tend to take their leads, and then watch to see what happens at the plate. That’s too late. Instead, they should be watching the pitch out of the pitcher’s hand and taking advantage of what they see.
For example, if the pitcher has a great change a baserunner who can recognize it can bolt immediately for the next base as soon as they recognize it, hopefully before it’s halfway to the plate. What does that do?
Consider a pitcher throwing 55 mph, with a 40 mph change. While that change is on its way to the plate, the runner is running, and there’s nothing the catcher can do until the ball makes its way there. Do that a couple of times on changeups and not only are you likely to advance some runners for free, your hitters probably won’t have to worry too much about a change of speed when there are runners on base.
Another thing to watch for is the pitch that’s on its way to the dirt. It’s good if your hitters recognize when a ball is hitting the dirt and take off. It’s better if they realize halfway there that it’s going to hit the dirt and take off before it actually happens. It may throw the catcher off, forcing her to try to throw the ball before she has it. If it doesn’t, she still has to block it and then make the throw on a runner who is 10-15 feet further than she would’ve been if she waited.
It definitely takes some practice, but it’s worth the effort. Just remember to reward your runners for their aggressiveness!