Fastpitch softball coach’s guide to scoring a game

In talking to some of my fastpitch softball students and former players in the past few weeks it seems like there is a lot of confusion among coaches as to how to score a game. In particular, I’m hearing some very interesting interpretations as to what is a hit versus what is an error.

So, as a public service to those who don’t seem to quite get it (or who are making up their own rules as they go along), I offer the following guide. This ought to clarify things, and make it easier for them to keep an honest book that tells them how their players are actually doing — good and bad. You’re welcome.

  • Ball is hit solidly without coming close to a defense player — should be scored as a hit.

  • Ball is hit solidly by a kid you don’t like without coming close to a defensive player — that is still a hit.

  • Ground ball goes through a fielder’s legs without being touched — that is an error because it should be an out.

  • Hard-hit ground ball is not fielded cleanly by an infielder — should be scored an error, even if it took a tough hop.

  • Hard-hit ground ball is not fielded cleanly by your favorite infielder — should still be scored an error. I am shocked at how many coaches seem to be scoring that as a hit in order to pump up the stats of their favorite players.

  • Hard-hit ground ball goes one foot to the left or right of an infielder who is too lazy to make an effort to get the ball — seems like it should be an error, but technically it is a hit. You may want to consider replacing that player, though, because any halfway decent infielder should be able to field a ball hit one foot to either side of them. Just sayin’.

  • Hard line drive hit just to the side of an infielder, who sticks her glove out and has it torn off, not making the catch — score that one a hit, regardless of whether you like that player or not.

  • Fly ball hit to an outfielder is caught — not an error, even if you didn’t like the way she caught it.

  • Fly ball hit pretty much right to an outfielder, who lets the ball glance off her glove or drop right in front of or behind her — those are errors.

  • Fly ball hit pretty much right to the outfielder who babysits your kids for free so you and your spouse can go to dinner, who lets the ball glance off her glove or drop right in front of her behind her — still an error.

  • Ball hit to the outfield, and your outfielder makes a diving attempt to catch the ball but doesn’t quite make it — is a hit.

  • Ball hit to the outfield, and an outfielder you don’t like makes a diving attempt to catch the ball but doesn’t quite make it — still a hit. Only a complete jerk would score that an error.

  • Pitch bounces two feet in front of catcher and goes all the way to the screen because she couldn’t be bothered to use good blocking technique — that is a passed ball.

  • Pitch bounces a foot or two to the left or right of the catcher and goes all the way to the screen because she couldn’t be bothered to use good blocking technique — that is also a passed ball.

  • Pitch bounces on the ground and hits the outside line of the batter’s box, getting by your catcher who tried to throw herself in front of the ball to stop it — wild pitch.

  • Pitch sails in three feet over the head of the umpire and goes to the screen — wild pitch.

  • Throw from an infielder goes into the dirt and wide at first; your first baseman tries to get it but can’t make it — throwing error.

  • Throw from an infielder pulls person covering the base off the bag, thus losing the force — throwing error.

  • Throw from an infielder you love pulls your least favorite player off the base she’s covering, thus losing the force — still a throwing error.

  • Perfect throw from fielder is dropped by person covering the base — error on the receiver.

  • Perfect throw from fielder you don’t like is dropped by your favorite player, who is covering the base — error on the receiver (detecting a pattern here?).

I think that covers it. But may not. Anyone have any more situations like this to add to the list?



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 May 6, 2012, in Coaching. Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Bases loaded ball is hit up the middle just left of 2nd base the runner at second runs the base path and bumps the SS because she runs into the base path, all runners are safe, run scores. The Coach ask for interference on the play and is awarded the out. Is this a hit, the umpire told me that this is a hit and the runner was ruled out after the play. Let me know if that is the right call. I believe that it is


  2. Sorry it took so long to respond. Not sure on that one, but I would think it’s a fielder’s choice. The implication of the interference is had it not occurred there would’ve been an out somewhere.


  3. The umpire called a player out for leaving third base too soon. I asked after the game how I should score the out and he said he didn’t know and sent me to the rule book. I still can’t figure it out. Looks like a dead ball call but how do I score the out? is there a running error out?


  4. If you are using a paper book, I would mark an X at the base, the same as you would if the runner was doubled off. It is a dead ball out. If you’re using iScore or Game Changer, they should have a choice for “left base early.”


  5. Here’s a scoring question: Batter has a count of 3-2. Batter hits a hits a high pop up in foul territory by first base. 1st baseman waves everyone off, then drops the ball. This is now an error on the 1st baseman, but the count remains 3-2. The next pitch is a ball, so the batter proceeds to first base. I score it a walk. The father of the pitcher says it needs to be scored an E3. While I see a (weak) case for that being an unearned run if the girl on first scores, I cannot believe that this would not be a standard base on balls. Am I wrong?


  6. No, you are correct. You can charge the first baseman with an error for statistical purposes, but that doesn’t affect whatever occurs next. Ball four results in a walk regardless of how you got there. Just as if the batter had hit the ball you would score it a hit.

    What it does affect is earned runs. If, after the dropped pop-up, any runners who are on base score after a subsequent play (forced in, driven in by a hit, etc.) those runs are not charged to the pitcher since she should have been out of the inning already.


  7. Yes, I have another one. Your favorite hindcatcher drops the 3rd strike and allows the batter to get to first!! Still a k for the pitcher you don’t really like and should be a passed ball on your favorite catcher!!


  8. Christopher Reed

    A shortstop dives for a hard hit ball up the middle and prevents the hit from making it to the outfield (a sure hit had she not stopped the ball). She throws from her knees to first and the first baseman stretches for the ball, below her knees and the ball hits her glove and pops out. The batter/runner remains at first, no other runners advance.

    I don’t consider this an error on either player since the shortstop made an extraordinary play to keep the ball from reaching the outfield. The first baseman had a difficult throw to handle honestly making it an infield hit. No additional bases were lost to the defense.

    I would love to have opinions on this!


  9. I don’t know what the true scoring experts would say, but I would definitely say no error on the shortstop. If the first baseman drops the ball after all of that, even if it was a tough catch, I might go with an error on her if a catch would have resulted in an out. Not everything is going to be right to her, so it would depend on the degree of difficulty. If it would have been superhuman then no error. If it was tough but reasonable, maybe an E.


  10. Christopher Reed

    Thanks Ken, that helps. I don’t feel it is an error on the first baseman considering the play was far from routine for either player. The result of the play, had the shortstop not made a spectacular play would have been a base hit. I think the result toward the pitching statistics is justifiable. Other coaches in our dugout may have disagreed, but the argument could be made both ways. The first baseman was given an error by our scorekeeper. I don’t feel it was the right assessment, but that is the beauty and frustration of softball.


    • Shortstop chases down a tough pop fly 15 feet into the grass. Ball is in her glove, but falls out on the transfer to the hand. Ruled as no catch by the umpires. Error or hit?


      • First of all, if it happened as you describe I would say error on umpire for not ruling it a catch.

        Again, without seeing it happen tough to make a definitive call. But it sounds to me like an error. Had she not had trouble with the transfer it would have been an out.


  11. Without seeing the play it’s tough for me to make a judgment on the first baseman. And even if I did, it definitely comes down to a matter of opinion as to whether that catch was a “should have made” or “would have been a miracle.” You’re right about that being the beauty of softball. It’s what gives us stuff to talk about during the winter, or on days when there aren’t any games!


  12. what is considered a no hit game ball was hit error girl on base but calling game no hitter


    • A no-hitter is when none of the hitters are able to hit their way on base safely. If an error is declared that means the hitter should have been out under normal circumstances. It doesn’t count as a hit in the scorebook, and the hitter is not credited with a hit toward her batting average.


  13. Esperanza Terry

    A high fly ball with some hang time gets hit over second base, the center fielder runs to it for a catch, she ends up diving for the catch the ball makes it to her glove but pops out when she lands hard on the ground. Error or hit????


  14. Personally, I would score it a hit since catching it would have required extraordinary effort.


  15. Esperanza Terry

    I score keep for the team and have to get in a debate on a hard hit/ error everytime their daughter puts the ball in play.
    1……fly ball to center fielder, outfielder tries to track it then the ball deflects off her glove. I say error because I’ve seen that play caught many times.
    2…….hard ground ball directly down first baseline, infielder didn’t have to move it game straight to her but she let it get by her after her glove made it go into foul territory behind her. That to me is a routine play. Parent says because it’s a hard hit it was not an error but a base hit.

    Please tell me how you’d call that.


  16. I agree with you on both. Doesn’t sound like either required extraordinary effort, just basic competence. They are errors. Here’s how MLB describes an error. Basically what you and I are saying:


  17. What if there are 3 fielders on a pop fly, no one touches the ball and it hits the ground. All 3 are right there (possibly miscommunication) Is that a hit or error? If an error, how do you decide who to assign it too?


    • That’s a great question, Carla, and one that has been perplexing even professional scorekeepers for probably as long as baseball and softball have been around. According to the rules, if one of the fielders could have caught the ball with ordinary effort, but didn’t, that fielder should be charged with an error. If they’re all there at the same time, generally it will be on the outfielder because she is moving in toward the ball rather than the infielders who are chasing it backwards.

      That said, it’s rarely actually scored that way. If no one touches the ball, more times than not it’s ruled a hit. Not saying it should be, but that’s usually the way it goes. So you have a judgment call to make. Could one of the fielders have caught the ball easily? If more than one could have, who would it have been easiest for? And if you do charge someone with an error, as you probably should, are you ready to take grief from all the people who believe that no touch=no error?

      By the way, here’s a great article that talks about this very specific circumstance. It was one of the rare times in MLB a fielder was charged with an error, mostly because it preserved a no-hitter for the pitcher.


  18. I have a situation that I would like to know how it should be scored. The batter bunts the ball up first baseline and the first baseman charges and fields ball cleanly and tags back of runner. Home plate umpire immediately calls for the out but the umpire in the field indicates runner is safe. Coach for fielding team asks to confer with umpires and they meet and they keep the call made by the field umpire. How should this be scored in softball?


  19. I would tend to say a hit. Think of it like this: the first baseman fields the ball, then runs after the runner but doesn’t catch up in time. Should she have made a better play? Yes. But was there an actual, physical error? Not in my view. Although others may differ.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on it, by the way. The original post was intended more for humor than anything. But that’s how I would score it.


  20. Bases are loaded. the batter hits a ground ball to the first baseman who bobbles the ball which allows the run to score, but she turns and tosses the ball to the second baseman covering first for the force out. Can you score the bobble an error since the run scored even though an out was made.


  21. Hi Ralph,

    I don’t think so. Even though she bobbled the ball, she still got an out. It may not have been the best out to get, but she got one.

    Look at it this way. Let’s say there was no bobble. She just fielded the ball and tossed it to the second baseman. Or maybe even fielded the ball and stepped on first herself. Either way the run still scores (unless there were two outs). Again, it wasn’t the ideal play to make in that situation, but at this point you can’t charge an error for not knowing what to do with the ball.



  22. Last night our last batter hit a line drive that went about 1’ above the 3B’s head and to her right. The 3B reached for the ball and it glance off of the end of her glove. Bases were loaded and the advancing runner scored the winning run. The batter was recorded as ROE. Your thoughts?????


  23. If a pitched ball hits the ground before the plate, it is a wild pitch, not a passed ball. There is no such pitch where it bounces on the ground before the plate and until they come up with a name like “Super Drop Ball” or maybe “Dirt Ball” it will and should be a wild pitch.


  24. A very fast batter drag bunts. 3B double clutches or bobbles the ball slightly (this has happened a few times now) and the batter beats the throw by 2 steps. I ruled it a hit because I contended the batter would have beat the throw even it was perfectly fielded.
    This has happened with other batters too. You shouldn’t rob the batter of a hit just because the fielder is less than perfect. If the batter is safe BECAUSE of the bobble it is an error, but the bobble does not automatically make it an error.


  25. Agree, Bud. Had it been a slower runner the bobble wouldn’t have had an impact.


  26. Third baseman fields a bunt cleanly then trips and falls batter safe at first, no error or error ?


  27. Tough one, but I would say error. The 3B fielded it cleanly and the hitter would have been out with ordinary effort.


  28. Jason Thompson

    Awesome. We got a whole team of them.


  29. Absolutely too funny. Trying to learn scoring for girls softball team using GameChanger app. Still learning what are errors as well as other situations and rules. Againlove the sarcastic humor.


  30. need more catcher situations…what is an isnt an error? thanks


  31. Runner at 1st, batter bunts. First base crashes and fields ball clean, turns and throws ball to 1st base bag…no one there. 2nd basemen still standing in same position as when ball was pitched. I scored error on 2nd base for not covering the bag to take the throw. Had she done her job on that play, there would be an out. (The next batter did the exact same thing, and the 2nd base fielder played it the exact same way, so 2 identical errors). Another person suggested that the error should be on the first basemen, who threw the ball to the unmanned bag. Thoughts?


  32. I am not entirely sure about the technical rule but I believe it says an error would only be scored if the batter/runner advanced beyond first base on the play. If she was just safe at first it’s a hit. Now, if she did go to second I would be inclined to agree with you that the error is on the second baseman for not covering the bag, especially on such a quick play – as long as the throw was on-target. See #4 under Exceptions on this page. I think it covers that situation, at least under NCAA rules.


  33. Hard ground ball hit to the shortstop’s right. She fields the ball cleanly but then her momentum causes her to trip to the ground (or she just missteps). She gets up and throws the ball to first, but the runner is already safe. Error or hit?


  34. I would call it an error. She got the ball, had an opportunity to make the play but didn’t. As long as you believe she would have thrown the runner out if she hadn’t tripped. If not then it’s a hit.


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