TSI Softball

Base running Guidelines

By Dick Thompson (Vancouver, WA)

YOUR DUTIES AS A BASE RUNNER

As a base runner/batter you should know the following:

  1. The inning
  2. The score
  3. The number of outs
  4. The count on the batter

All of these affect your strategy and decisions as a base runner trying to score for the team. Listen and watch the base coach for instructions and directions. If you are not sure what to do, then ask the base coach. Call time out if necessary. We cannot afford to squander a base runner and an opportunity to score.

BASIC BASERUNNING RULES

  1. Be aggressive leaving the base. Use a rocker start. Time the pitchers motion so the foot in contact with the base is leaving as the pitcher releases the ball. This means you must start your running motion before the pitcher gets to the bottom of their motion. With most pitchers you can leave as their hand is at the top of their arm circle or earlier. Don't worry about being called out for leaving early unless we are in a close ball game and it is in the "late" innings (innings 5-7). Assume you will be running on every pitch and get as good a jump as possible.
  2. Think "passed ball" on every pitch. If the ball comes loose from the catcher or the pitch is wild, you should steal. If you are not planning to steal on every pitch, then you will not be ready and you will loose physical and mental momentum.
  3. Most pitchers throw their change-ups in the dirt or rainbow them in the air. If a pitcher throws change-ups like this, steal the next base. Catchers have great difficulty making good throws with a ball bouncing around in the dirt or looping through the air. With you running it will create an additional distraction for the catcher, who is trying to corral the pitch. Some catchers will also jump out at the ball since they don't want to wait. If the batter swings and hits them, then interference is called and you get the base anyway.
  4. Don't let a batted ball hit you. In certain situations, you're automatically out!

HOME TO FIRST BASE

So now you hit the ball. RUN! ! ! ! Run through the bag at first base unless the first base coach is telling you different. As your foot hits the bag, sneak a peek to the right to see if the ball was overthrown or is loose.

As you are running to first base the base coach will point to second and yell 2 if you should continue on to second base. Before you get to first base swerve out to the right. Hit the inside corner of the base and drive as straight as you can toward second base.

The base coach may also tell you to "round and look". This means you should round first base, but look to pick up where the ball is. Typically, this means you will not be able to go to second unless the other team botches a throw-in, a catch or falls asleep.

If the ball you hit was right to the first baseman who stays where she is to tag you, then STOP! This is a good habit to build for when there are runners on base. By stopping, the first baseman must come tag you and cannot concern themselves with any runners on base. By running into a tag, you give the other team a chance to get a double play. If there are other runners on base, fall down to the first base side just before the tag is made. This makes the first baseman bend and reach to get the out and allows the runners more time to safely advance.

FIRST BASE

Well, you made it. You are on first base and are feeling pretty good. The crowd is cheering and your coach is telling you what a good job you did. Your job next is to get into scoring position. Scoring position is considered to be either second or third bases. From second base, you should be able to score on an outfield single. Even with two outs, a runner on second is a threat to score. Basic guidelines you should follow at first are:

Passed ball-GO! ! ! This is the easiest base to steal on a passed ball since the catcher must find the ball and throw it accurately 90-110 feet. With a decent lead-off, you will only have to run some 50 feet to beat the throw.

Pop-up in foul territory-Tag up. You can advance after the catch if they fall asleep.

Ground ball-RUN! ! ! ! It's a force play. It doesn't matter where the ball is hit. Once you know the ball will be on the ground, you should be running hard. If the ground ball is to the second baseman, who wants to try to tag you and have a chance for a double play, then stop! If they are close enough to tag you, fall down and away from them. Make them bend over to get you. Hopefully, this will save the batter going to first from being out as well as allowing other runners to advance.

Fly ball to right field-Go part way. The distance will depend on where the ball is hit and how deep. Turn and watch the play. It doesn't make sense to tag up automatically since any decent right fielder will throw you out at second after a catch. If it drops, take off. If it's caught, get back to the bag. If a ball is hit to right field and drops in, you should be thinking about making it to third base because of the length of the throw. Look for the third base coach as you come into second because usually you will be called to third base.

Fly ball to center field-Go part way and maybe most of the way. It depends on where the ball is hit and how deep. If the ball drops, you don't want to leave yourself in a force-out situation at second base. If it is caught you don't want to be doubled off. The deeper the ball is hit, the farther you may want to go toward second. It makes little sense to tag up automatically, since it is usually a short throw to second and the odds successfully advancing are slim.

Fly ball to left field-Go most of the way to second unless it's a short fly ball. If it's deep you should be at second base. Again, it will be unusual if you could tag up and advance after a catch. If the ball is dropped or misplayed, you should get third base and maybe home.

SECOND BASE

Now you are a real threat to score! You should get a more aggressive lead off the bag at second than at any other base because it is the longest throw for the catcher. By getting an aggressive lead you can improve your chances of scoring on a single or an error. Also, if you get a big lead and the catcher ignores you, steal third base on a delay. You know how fast you are, what the odds are and the game situation.

When you get to second you should check the outfielders behind you and see how deep they are playing. You should also try to steal the other teams pitching signs from the catcher. We will tell you how to communicate the next pitch to the batter as part of our team signs. Remember, when you get to second you should be thinking check the outfield, steal the signs and be aggressive with your lead-off. Basic guidelines you should follow at second are:

Passed ball-GO! ! ! This is tougher than first base since it is a shorter throw for the catcher but if the ball gets by the catcher, you should be able to get to third safely.

Pop-up in foul territory-Tag up. You can advance after the catch if they fall asleep.

Ground ball to the shortstop-Force her to look at you. Stomp your feet if you have to. You have some time before the second baseman can get to the bag behind you so make her worry about you. Don't get so close she can tag you or run you down. If you got a good lead and she does throw it to first base, you can then take off to third if you have enough time. Your primary goal is to make her worry about you and help her make a bad throw to first by hurrying, since you distracted her. This will also hopefully get you to third base. If she throws the ball away, you might have a chance to score. The most important thing is to not run into an out since you are still in scoring position.

Ground ball to first or second base-GO! ! ! This should be automatic. Even if they decide to make a play on you. Because you got an aggressive lead and jump, there should be no problem making third base. Even if they get you they still left a runner on base. They will throw the ball away trying to get you more times than you will be put out.

Ground ball to the pitcher or third baseman-Similar to the shortstop, make them look at you. Stomp your feet. Once you have made them look at you, you increase the chance they will throw the ball away at first base. If they throw it, and you have enough time, get to third base. Again, don't make a stupid out since you are in scoring position.

Ground ball with a runner behind you on first-RUN! ! ! It doesn't matter where it is hit, there is a force play at third.

Fly ball to right field-Tag up. Go immediately back to the bag if there is any chance the ball will be caught. Once the ball is caught you should attempt to get to third base. This shouldn't be a problem unless it was a very shallow fly ball.

Fly ball to center field-Tag up. Go immediately back to the bag if there is any chance the ball will be caught. Once the ball is caught it will depend on how deep the ball was hit and/or if the outfielder had to turn her back to make the catch. This will require judgment on your part.

Fly ball to left field-Go part way to third. How far depends on how deep the ball is hit, but usually you will never want to go more than half way. If the ball is caught, you probably wouldn't be able to tag up and advance anyway. Therefore, we will gamble on a dropped ball and maybe get home because of your lead.

THIRD BASE

Now you are only 60 feet away from getting your team a run. Scoring runs is how you win ball games. Runners on third with less than two outs should score most of the time. Even with two outs, you can score a lot of the time if you use your base running smarts. The first thing you should do is always run and take your lead-off in foul territory. A batted ball that hits you in fair territory means you are out. Therefore, stay on the right side of the foul line. Basic guidelines you should follow are:

Passed ball-GO, usually. This would depend on the game situation. Ask the third base coach, if he doesn't instruct you when you get there. We may be less aggressive, for example, if you are the only base runner in a tie ball game, in the bottom of the seventh with no outs. In that situation, we have at least two batters who only need to get a decent ball in play to score you. The general rule however, is that you should plan on going as soon as you can tell the ball will be bouncing around in the dirt far enough away from the plate or over the catchers head. You should also plan on sliding.

Ground ball to the first baseman-Come off the bag and take a look. If they hold their position and tag the batter then it is doubtful that you can score, so don't risk it. If they turn to make an underhand flip to the bag or if they try to outrun the batter to the bag, then plan on scoring if you got a good lead.

Ground ball to the second baseman-SCORE! ! ! ! If the second baseman was playing at their standard depth or deeper, you should have no problem scoring. If they have been pulled in to cut the run off, you might have a problem. The rule of thumb however, is that you should run immediately and score.

Ground ball to the shortstop-Get off the bag but not so far that you can't get back if they throw it to third. You can be off the bag as far as the third baseman is down the line. Make the shortstop look at you and try to distract her into a bad throw. If she throws it, there should be a good chance for you to score.

Ground ball to third base-Stay behind them. Don't get so close they can tag you or run you down. Make them hear you, though. Stomp your feet if you have to. Distract them into a bad throw or no throw at all. Just don't get tagged out. Usually, you will not make it home if they make a good throw to first, so your job is to play it safe but be disruptive. Keep alert for the bad throw that you can score on. Also, don't be a sucker for a fake throw.

Ground ball to the pitcher-Get off the bag far enough to also make them look at you. You will not be able to score unless they throw it away, so don't take a lot of risk, but be disruptive.

Fly ball-TAG UP ! ! ! ! I don't care where the ball is. Tag up on all fly balls in fair or foul territory with less than two outs. As soon as you are sure that the ball will not be caught then you should score. If the ball will be caught, the third base coach will tell you when to leave, or you can sneak a peek at the play. Also, don't assume you can't score on a foul pop-up. Many times the defense will go to sleep and will be too busy congratulating each other to notice you scoring. On any pop-up where the catcher leaves the plate, check to see if anyone is covering for her.

Safety squeeze-On a safety squeeze bunt you should take off as soon as you know the ball will hit the ground and not be caught in the air. You will need a good jump off the third base bag and will slide into home. This is a gamble play and will be called by the coaches.