Positioning the Softball Chess Pieces
The softball positions are universally defined. There are usually nine players on the field at a time taking a defensive position. In some leagues at the younger ages, usually at younger than 10 years old, they may allow a tenth defensive player.
If two teams are very evenly matched, what could very well determine who wins may come down to how you defend against what the other team is trying to do. This is where the strategy of fastpitch softball comes in. This is where the chess match begins. For scorecard purposes, each of the softball positions is also numbered. So for instance, if you see an out listed as 6-3, it means the shortstop fielded a ground ball and threw the batter out at first.
Defensive Softball Positions
#1 The pitcher is the player who under hands the ball to the opposing players with the express reason to get them out. It is said that good pitching will always beat good hitting, and for this reason it is extremely important that you have several quality pitchers. In addition to pitching, the pitcher also performs a variety of back up roles and is responsible for defending against the bunt. The pitcher is usually one of your best players, thrives on the pressure of the game and stays calm under most any situation.
#2 The catcher is the player behind home plate who catches the pitches. As Tim McCarver likes to say, the catcher wears the “tools of ignorance”. The catcher is your defensive captain, aligning the team in certain situations, calling the pitches or relaying the coach's pitch call. She must be smart and have a keen understanding of the game. The catcher also must have a strong arm to throw out prospective base stealers. She is also the player who will be the first player to go to the mound to calm the jittery pitcher. Responsibility defensively is to guard home plate, cover the bunt, and in some cases with no one on base, back up first base.
#3 The first baseman is usually someone who has a very good glove and makes most any catch, saving her teammates from throwing errors. The first baseman's primary responsibility is to cover first base on an infield throw. In fastpitch softball, you may see the first baseman playing several steps in front of the first base bag to prevent the other team from bunting. The first baseman is generally one of your taller girls to help cover errand throws. Because she is one of your bigger girls, she may also be one of your power hitters.
#4 The second baseman is the infielder who plays between first and second. The second baseman should be one of your stronger fielders with good range. The second baseman covers second base on balls hit to the left side of the infield. On a bunt, with the first baseman charging, the second baseman covers first. The second baseman serves as the cutoff person when balls are hit to right field. On balls hit to center or left field, the second baseman covers second base and backs up the throw into the infield if it goes to the short stop. On a steal play, the second baseman backs up the throw from the catcher to second base if the short stop covers second base.
#6 (yes not #5) The shortstop is the player who plays between second base and third base. The short stop usually is your best fielder in the infield. Note in the certain leagues where not too many pull the ball, the second baseman and shortstop may flip flop. The shortstop should have very good range and a strong arm. She serves as cutoff for balls hit to center field and left field. On a hit to right field, the short stop covers second base and serves as the back up on the throw back into the infield. She generally takes the throw at second base on a steal play. On a bunt, the shortstop will usually cover second base.
#5 The player in the "hot corner" because how fast some of the grounders come screaming down to the third base area. The third baseman should be an excellent fielder with a strong arm and excellent reaction time to cover the bunt. The third baseman will usually play in form of the third base bag to discourage the bunt. The third baseman covers third base on balls hit to the outfield.
#7 The left fielder occupies the left filed area. She is responsible for backing up any balls or throws made to the left side of the infield. In the case where there is a runner on first and the opposing team bunts, the left fielder must get in and cover the third base bag. The ideal left fielder must have good speed to cover the outfield and can catch fly balls. The left fielder should also back up the center fielder on balls hit to center and left center field. The left fielder should be prepared to back up any throw from right field into the infield in case it is not handled.
#8 The center fielder is captain of the outfield and usually your best and fastest player in the outfield. Generally, if she can make the catch, the other outfielders should defer to her. The center fielder backs up and balls hit to right or left field and backs up any throw to second base on a steal attempt or force out.
#9 The right fielder covers the right field area and backs up any throw to first base. In addition, she should have a strong arm to throw out runners attempting to go from first to third on a hit to right field. The right fielder should also back up any throw into the infield from left field.
#10 This is an optional player and only exists at the younger age groups if it exists at all. Generally used as a "short" outfielder of as a fourth outfielder.
Alternate Softball Positions
A player that hits for one of your field players listed above. If the player is a DH, she cannot play in the field for that game.
Designated Player/Flex Player:
Listed here as a tandem, the designated player (DP) rule expands on the Designated Player rule. A player is listed as a DP at the start of the game and does not play the field. A tenth player, the Flex player, is inserted into the line-up and the DP hits for the Flex player. The DP and Flex player can both be on the field at the same time, just not at the beginning of the game. In order to thoroughly understand the rule, the best thing to do is ask for a full explanation by the league/tournament officials. It is a rule that can be tricky and needs to be paid close attention if you or the opposing team decides to use it. Here is a link
that attempts to explain the rule and its rationale.
Top of Softball Positions
Home to Fastpitch Softball Coaching
Return to Fastpitch Softball Rules