First year of fastpitch softball ! *****

by Desiree Walker
(Osseo , MN)

My coach started me at 3rd base , I'm good at throwing and running in on grounders , catching pop flies , line drives etc but I don't know where to throw the ball . I love playing 3rd base but theres another girl on my team who has been playing since she was young . I can't compete with her . I try to watch her but I still don't understand . My coach agrees that I would be a good pick for a 3rd baseman and that with practice I could be on a much bigger team than just a high school league . He played me in 2 games and I was a complete mess . I didn't know where to throw the ball or when to touch the bag or when to throw home or when a force was or anything . I was sooooo embarrased . He has put me in left field the rest of the season which isn't too bad I guess but it sort of is if you're moved from 3rd to outfield . I just really LOVE 3rd base and I want that to be my position all through high school and college . I don't mind other positions but 3rd is where I want to be . I have almost everything else down besides where to throw the ball / when to touch the bag or when to tag . I think he is frustrated because he keeps giving me chances but I always hesitate and I don't have all the plays and situations in my head . I have played slow pitch for 4 years previous but never 3rd base . Mostly outfield or catcher . I really want to play 3rd and need help before the new season starts . I've been practicing batting and just throwing/catching with one of my teammates but we don't have enough people or a coach to have a whole team so I can't practice plays and situations . PLEASE HELP !!!!!

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The Hot Corner
by: Coach Dan

Dear Desiree,

First of all ... take a breath. The tension comes right through your words. I can feel the passion, but unless you relax, no matter what you are trying to achieve, you will fail. You must allow yourself to succeed!

I must also say this: As much as I like 3rd base (I grew up playing third), the outfield is just as, if not more important. Both of my daughters played the outfield at various times and were all area doing it.

One more thing: The coach (or one of the coaches) should be yelling out to the team number of outs, the situation and where the ball should go before every at bat. We did it all through travel ball from 10U up to 18U as well as in high school ball. It puts everyone on the same page AND allows the fielders to know what to do before the ball is hit to them so they are acting automatically, and not thinking, then acting. At that point, especially in the infield, particularly playing 3rd, you will never get the runner.

Now all that being said, the most important thing for you is to KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO SHOULD THE BALL GET HIT TO YOU BEFORE EVERY PITCH. Again, the key is to react vs. think and react. If your coach(es) are not calling out or signaling what they want the fielders to do, there is nothing wrong with you speaking to the shortstop before the pitch..." I am going to first, or I am going to second, etc." See if she is on the same page. If you plan to go to second, tell the second baseman so she knows to be there. Communication is the key to success.

I assume your coaches have simulation drills in practice (runner on first, two outs, what do you do with the ball?) where they are teaching expectations. Regardless where you are playing (or not playing) when these drills are happening, pay attention and ask questions! That is what practice is about ... learning.

So you know, I always preferred the simple play to the spectacular...just get me an out. Now that being said, as you become more proficient as a team, obviously, you will need to work on things like double plays, etc. So to keep it simple, with 2 outs, I would always have the infielders go to first, why? All things being equal, that will be the slowest runner because she has to hit and then run. The runners just have to run. The exception is if I am playing third and the ball is hit right where I can field and touch third (with runners on first and second), and get an easy force out, I will do that. There are other things to consider given the situation, but it would not hurt to ask your coach a bunch of situations (runner on first, less than two outs, etc.) what you should do. It will show you have a passion for the game and want to get better.

That is all I can ever ask of a player and would love to have a whole team of those type of players. But most important, RELAX and HAVE FUN!!

Feel free to ask any additional questions.

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