Constructing a Lineup. In constructing a lineup, a manager puts the best hitters at the top of the lineup (usually spots one through five). This has two advantages: First, the best hitters get the most at-bats in each game and over the course of a season.
Second, with good hitters bunched together, the team has a better chance to string together several hits. A manager tends to let the hitters at the top of the order swing away in most of their at-bats.
With the weaker hitters at the bottom of the lineup, he is more likely to call for a hit-and-run, a sacrifice play, or another strategic maneuver.
The hit-and-run is a strategy that requires the batter and base runner to work together. The runner breaks for the next base as the pitcher releases the ball, and the batter’s job is to hit the ball on the ground so that the runner can reach the base or beyond. (A fly ball would force the runner to return to his base and tag up.)
A manager most often calls for the hit-and-run with a runner at first base and less than two outs. When the batter executes the hit-and-run properly, he hits the ball in the hole created when the shortstop or second baseman moves to cover second base on what looks like an attempted steal by the runner.
A sacrifice is a deliberate out made by a batter in order for a runner to advance a base. This is most commonly done by bunting with bbcor certified bats – That is, holding the bat out in front of the pitch, instead of swinging, so that when the ball and bat make contact, the ball rolls slowly into the infield. The fielders can easily throw out the batter, but the base runner has time to make it to the next base.
Managers usually call for the sacrifice with no outs, because a successful sacrifice will then move a runner into better scoring position with only one out. Because most pitchers are weak hitters, they sometimes sacrifice with one out. The idea is that the team is willing to give up the second out if it can move the runner over in the process.
A safety squeeze is a specific type of sacrifice play that a manager may call for when he has a runner on third base. The runner waits until the ball is bunted, and then decides if he will be able to score. If so, he breaks for home. The best time to try the safety squeeze is with a speedy runner at third base but an average or poor bunter at the plate. With a better bunter, the suicide squeeze is an option.
If a team has a speedy runner on third and a good bunter at the plate, the manager may call for a suicide squeeze. In this play the runner breaks for home as soon as the pitcher starts his motion toward the plate.
He runs full speed toward the plate, and it is up to the hitter to bunt the ball anywhere on the ground. The play is called a suicide because if the hitter does not put the ball in play, the catcher can easily tag out the runner.
Players or managers call for a pitchout to combat an offensive play such as a hit-and-run, a steal, or a squeeze play. In a pitchout the ball is thrown so far from the plate that the hitter cannot reach it by swinging or bunting. The catcher receives the ball standing up and ready to make a throw or tag to put a runner out.
Putting on the Shift
A team is putting on the shift when it places more defensive players than usual on a pull hitter’s strong side of second base, where the ball is likely to go if it is hit.
The switch is usually done by moving either the second baseman or the shortstop to the opposite side of second base than the one they normally play on. The most famous shift was the Ted Williams shift, used against the famed Boston Red Sox slugger of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
Teams would put five players to the right of second base to combat the left-handed Williams’s tendency to pull the ball to right field. Williams usually disregarded the shift and continued to try to hit the ball to right field, and he frequently succeeded.
Bringing in a Left-Hander or a Right-Hander
Percentages in baseball show that a right-handed pitcher normally fares better against a right-handed batter, and a left-handed pitcher normally fares better against a left-handed batter.
One reason for this is that balls moving away from the hitter are hardest to hit. A right-hander’s breaking ball goes away from a right-handed batter, and a left-hander’s goes away from a left-handed batter. Late in a game, managers on defense want to match up a right-handed pitcher against a right-handed batter or a left-handed pitcher against a left-handed hitter, and they sometimes try bringing in a left-hander or a right-hander just to pitch to a single batter.
Managers on offense sometimes combat this by waiting for the new pitcher to come in, and then replacing the batter, to get a right-hander batting against a left-hander or vice versa.
The double switch is a maneuver most often used in the National League (NL). In the double switch a manager takes two players out of the lineup, inserting two new players into the two open spots in the lineup. By bringing in two players at once, the manager can put each one into either of the two vacated spaces in the batting order.
The manager usually arranges it so that the better hitter takes the batting spot that is due up sooner. The double switch most often occurs in the NL when the pitcher is due to bat soon, because managers can bring in a new pitcher and also substitute a good hitter in the pitcher’s place in the batting order.
Conceding the Run
When the team in the field is willing to trade a run for an out, it is conceding the run. In most cases a team is willing to concede a run if it has a big lead or if it wants to keep the other team from scoring a lot of runs in an inning.
For example, when there are runners at first and third and no outs, a team might play the infield at double play depth to try to make a double play. If the strategy works, they allow a run, but there are then two outs with no one on base.
Pinch Hitter and Pinch Runner
A pinch hitter comes in during a game to replace another batter. A manager will pinch hit because he does not like the matchup between his hitter and the pitcher.
When there is a right-handed pitcher, he usually sends in a left-handed batter; if the pitcher is left-handed, he sends in a right-handed batter. A pinch runner comes in when a manager wants a speedier or better base runner on base—usually late in the game when it is important to score even a single run.
What Kind of Softball Player Are You?
What kind of softball player are you? What kind do you want to be? These are questions that first need to be addressed before the search for equipment begins. There are millions of hopeful kids playing softball throughout the United States, dreaming of making it to the big leagues.
The reality is that very few actually will. This doesn’t mean one should hang up their cleats and call it a day. But it should motivate players to take an honest appraisal of their abilities and look to discover what it is they need to do to reach their maximum potential.
And that’s really what we all should strive for in sports and life in general. If at the end of the day you can look back and honestly say you did everything you could to be the best player and person you could be, we can label that a success.
How does this relate to softball exactly? The reason I pose these questions is that there are obviously different kinds of players and parents. With any sport or activity, there are different levels of commitment.
We can recognize those around us that have a more recreational relationship with softball and those who who are trying to make it more than just an activity. This is important to keep in mind when looking for the right equipment.
A parent whose child may be a recreational type of player probably shouldn’t feel as though they need to buy their child the most expensive glove or the most expensive 2020 fastpitch softball bats (although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that) for them to be properly equipped.
This applies to parents of more serious players as well. Even if your child is very serious about the game, it isn’t necessary to spend $500 on a glove or bat (again, unless you want to), because more expensive doesn’t automatically mean it will be the best fit.
Having the proper tools will increase a players confidence and allow them to focus their energy on becoming a better player.
Now, about commitment to the game. I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of whatever it is that you do, do your best and try to be the best. As a player, you have to decide what kind of player you want to be.
Are you going to rest on your laurels while kids around the country are putting in the time and sweat to get better? Or are you going to work as hard as you can to reach your potential and prepared come game time? I hope anyone reading this will choose the later.
I could always hold my head high when I or my team was outplayed, but being outworked or knowing I was unprepared mentally or physically left me sick to my stomach, and is something every athlete should avoid.
Working hard and giving 100% requires no talent or skill whatsoever, only determination and guts. Having that drive and tenacity can elevate one’s game to new heights, and help to equalize the playing field for those not blessed with an abundance of natural ability.
softball is a game that demands constant practice. While athletic ability is always a multiplier, America’s Pastime requires an insane level of technical prowess that takes years to even remotely master, regardless of one’s athleticism.
This means that just because you aren’t the fastest, strongest, or throw the hardest, you still can be a successful player, but you’re going to have to work your tail off. Furthermore, because softball is so difficult, it lends to the importance of the psychology of the player.
I mean, in what other sport is it considered a success to fail 7/10 times? Players must learn to accept the fact that there will be many hitless games and times when you can’t buy an out on the mound.
Learning from these experiences and not letting them negatively affect you is difficult, but it will help you grow as a player and person. “Overthinking” is a dirty word in softball nomenclature, but it’s easy to fall prey to.
Putting time in the cages, taking ground balls, and throwing in the bullpen can mitigate one’s natural tendencies to overthink, and allow you to relax and react. If you’re properly prepared, you can step onto the diamond with confidence and let your playing do the talking.
So, are you still interested in becoming the best player possible and finding the right tools to help you reach your goals? Find out about some training videos and routines you can do to hone your skills by clicking here.
Additional Information about Major League Baseball and The Bats be use in MLB: