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!

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on June 5, 2010, in Baserunning. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. One also needs to make sure of the fitness quotient of the runners and hitters if they are to be utilized in the way it is discussed on this page. It matters all the more now if such strategies are to be implemented, not that fitness is a no-no factor in any sport. But these days we tend to go easy on the fitness factor and that’s a fact. Yes, and the practice part, that pays off whatever effort you make. Just try it and see.

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