Softball Tips
Playing Defense with Runners on Base

Softball practice drills addressed basic defensive alignment. Here are softball tips on handling situations with runners on base.

The good news is if you deployed the basic defensive strategy of covering every base from Softball Practice Drills, it is now a matter of convincing your players to throw to the base that will get the lead runner out. Here is one of our first tips. A word of caution: With some younger teams, you may want to continue to deploy the idea of getting the easiest out, based on the arm strength of your infielders. So, for instance, is your second baseman ready to throw to third to get a force out? Of all the softball tips you get, the most important is that you set your team up to always get at least one out, regardless of how unspectacular it may seem.



Here are seven game situations with runners on base and our softball tips on how to handle them. Notice that every base is covered on every play. It is now a matter of teaching your team where they should throw the ball to get the out. Hopefully these softball tips help you decide how you want to play the situation.

Situation 1: Ground Ball to Shortstop with a Runner on First Base

Ground Ball to Shortstop with a Runner on First Base When the ball is hit, the first baseman covers first base. Realizing she cannot reach the ball, the third baseman covers third. The second baseman covers second base and anticipates a throw from the shortstop for a force play at second. Your right fielder must react and back up first base should there be an errant throw. The center and left fielder move to back up shortstop should the ball get through. The shortstop, once she handles the ball, now decides to either touch second base (and throw to first for a possible double play), flip to the second baseman covering second based, or, if the runner at first got a good jump, throws to first for the out. The most important thing is to get an out. For the older teams, it is important to teach the second baseman how to protect herself at second on the toss, pivot and throw to first for a possible double play.




Situation 2: Ground Ball to Second Base with a Runner on First Base

Ground Ball to Second Base with a Runner on First Base When the ball is hit, and the first baseman realizes she cannot field the ball, she covers first base. The third baseman covers third. The shortstop covers second base anticipating a throw from the second baseman for the force out. Your right fielder must react and first determine if the ball will get through, if not she must back up first base should there be an errant throw. The center fielder moves toward the ball in case it gets past the second baseman and left fielder move to back up second should there be an error at first and there is a play at second. The second baseman, once she handles the ball, now decides to either touch second base (and throw to first for a possible double play), flip to the shortstop covering second based, tag the runner from first as she runs past (and throw to first for the double play) or, if the runner at first got a good jump, throws to first for the out. The most important thing is to get an out. For the older teams, it is important to teach the shortstop how to protect herself at second on the toss, pivot and throw to first for a possible double play.




Situation 3: Hit to Leftfield/Centerfield with a Runner on First Base

Hit to Leftfield/Centerfield with a Runner on First Base When the ball is hit, the first baseman covers first base. The third baseman covers third. The second baseman covers second base. The shortstop moves out to short leftfield to be the cut off. Your second baseman aligns her between the outfielder fielding the ball and the second base bag by shouting left or right. Your right fielder lines herself up to back up a throw to second in short right field. The center and left fielder move to field the ball communicating who has it. Whether the leftfielder or centerfielder fields the ball, they should then try and get the ball into second base as quickly as possible to get a possible force out a second.




Situation 4: Hit to Right Field with a Runner on First Base

Hit to Right Field with a Runner on First Base When the ball is hit, the first baseman covers first base. The third baseman covers third. The shortstop covers second base. The second baseman is the cutoff moving to short right field. Your shortstop aligns her between the outfielder fielding the ball and the second base bag by shouting left or right. Your left fielder moves towards shot left field to backup an errant throw to second. The right fielder moves to field the ball while the centerfielder moves to back up the right fielder. When the right fielder fields the ball, she should throw the ball to either second or first to attempt to get a force out. As a general rule of thumb we used is what direction was her momentum taking her? If it was towards second, then throw to second. If it was towards first then throw to first.




Situation 5: Hit to Leftfield/Centerfield with Runners on First and Second Base

Hit to Leftfield/Centerfield with Runners on First and Second Base When the ball is hit, the first baseman covers first base. The third baseman covers third. The second baseman covers second base. The shortstop moves out to short leftfield to be the cut off. Your second baseman aligns her between the outfielder fielding the ball and the second base bag by shouting left or right. Your right fielder lines herself up to back up a throw to second in short right field. The center and left fielder move to field the ball communicating who has it. Whether the leftfielder or centerfielder fields the ball, they should then try and get the ball into second base or third base as quickly as possible to get a possible force out. The general rule of thumb we used to determine which base to throw to is what direction was her momentum taking her? If towards third, throw to third. If towards second, throw to second.




Situation 6: Hit to Right Field with Runners on First and Second Base

Hit to Right Field with Runners on First and Second Base When the ball is hit, the first baseman covers first base. The third baseman covers third. The shortstop covers second base. The second baseman is the cutoff moving to short right field. Your shortstop aligns her between the outfielder fielding the ball and the second base bag by shouting left or right. Your left fielder moves towards shot left field to backup an errant throw to second. The right fielder moves to field the ball while the centerfielder moves to back up the right fielder. When the right fielder fields the ball, she should throw the ball to either second or first to attempt to get a force out. As a general rule of thumb we used is what direction was her momentum taking her? If it was towards second, then throw to second. If it was towards first then throw to first. The shortstop or first baseman, depending on where the ball was thrown, must immediately wheel around to see what the runner on second is doing. If attempting to score, the throw must come to the plate. If stopped at third, the ball must go back into the pitcher’s circle to the pitcher to end the play.




Situation 7: Ground Ball to Second with Bases Loaded and Less Than Two Outs

Ground Ball to Second with Bases Loaded and Less Than Two Outs Your infield should be playing in, meaning in front of the base paths. You want to get the force out at home plate (catcher only has to step on home plate before the runner touches it). When the ball is hit, and the first baseman realizes she cannot field the ball, she covers first base. The third baseman covers third. The shortstop covers second base. Your right fielder must react and first determine if the ball will get through, if not she must back up first base should there be an errant throw. The center fielder moves toward the ball in case it gets past the second baseman and left fielder move to back up second should there be an error at first and there is a play at second. The second baseman, once she handles the ball, will throw the ball to home plate, where the catcher, positioned like a first baseman, catches the ball while touching the plate for the force out. If she does not field the ball cleanly the second baseman should look to try and get one out, most likely at first. You want to get at least one out in the situation. Some may even try and play this into a double play, should there already be an out, so as to get out of the inning.




These were just a few softball tips. There are many other situations that arise during a game. If you have a few situational softball tips you would like to add, please enter them below. Your fellow coaches will appreciate your contributions. If you do not agree with these softball tips and would handle any of the situations above differently, please also join in below. Finally, if you have questions, feel free to ask.

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