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Basic baseball for clueless parents
I’ve got a 10-year old who started playing softball this year at her school in Singapore
Baseball’s not really a singaporean game. So there are lots of clueless kids & fogged parents
This deck is an attempt to break things down a bit
The game of softball is played on a softball field.
The softball field is made up of an Infield and an Outfield infield OUfield
The Infield is diamond shaped, and the 4 corners are marked with square bases. there are 4 bases: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & home plate home 1st 2nd 3rd
The line from home plate out to the edge of the left outfield (left field) and from home plate out to the edge of the right outfield (right field) are foul lines
Everything from the foul lines inwards is “in bounds”, and everything outwards is “out of bounds”. inbounds Out of bounds inbounds Out of bounds
There are two teams in a softball game, each with 9 players. The two teams take turns playing offense & defence.
When a team is on offense, they try to score points. This is known as a run
A run is scored when someone from the offense touches all 4 bases: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & home, in order
When a team is on defence, they try to stop the offense from scoring runs by collecting 3 outs
More on outs in a bit
For now, just know that when the defence collects 3 outs, the teams switch places. The offense plays defence and vice versa
When both teams have had a chance to play offense & defence, we say that the teams have completed one inning
In a standard game, there are 9 innings. But, depending on the age & expertise of the kids, there may be fewer
When the innings are over, the team, with the most runs wins the game
So that is the basic idea. Let’s go into the details
We’ll start with defence. Since each team has 9 players, there are 9 defensive positions that roughly cover zones of the playing field
The Infield includes First Base, Second Base, Third Base, & Shortstop 1st 2nd 3rd Short stop
Left field The Outfield includes Right Field, Center Field, & Left Field Center field Right field
pitcher Finally, there is the pitcher & the catcher catcher
As we said, the defence’s goal is to collect 3 outs. There are several ways to do that
First, if a batter on the offense hits a ball in the air, a defensive player can catch it. If the player catches the ball before it hits the ground, it is an out
It is worth noting that this type of out will happen whether or not the ball is hit in-bounds or out of bounds. It’s out So long as it does not hit the ground before it is caught
Second, if a defensive player catches the ball, but the ball already hit the ground, the defensive player can tag an offensive player (the runner) if the runner is not touching a base (or throw the ball to a player who can tag). that too, is an out
Note that this case only applies if the ball was hit in-bounds. I’ll cover what happens if it went out of bounds later
By the way, if at any point, a runner is not touching a base, and is touched with the ball by a defensive player, it is an out
Check out this comical approach to that rule! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5wGxsxjmy0
Third, if the defensive player catches the ball, but the ball hits the ground first, the defensive player can touch the base (or throw to another player touching the base) that the runner is running to before the runner reaches it
But this is only allowed if there is another runner that is running to, or standing on, the preceding base, or it is the batter running from home plate to 1st base
If these conditions are met, then it is an out. Note that just as in the last case, this applies only if the ball was hit in-bounds. I’ll cover what happens if it goes out of bounds later
Finally, the pitcher on the defence can “strike out” an offensive batter. But we’ll cover this case after we have spoken a bit more about the batter
So that’s a good segue to the offense
As you recall, the team on offense is trying to score as many runs as they can before the defence gets 3 outs. and to get a run, a player must touch 3 bases and home plate (in that order)
So how does that happen?
First, the 9 players need to decide on an order (the batting order). The batting order stays the same throughout the game. So if you are the 4th player, you let the 1st, 2nd & 3rd players in the order bat before you get your turn
If the defence is able to get 3 outs before it is your turn, you need to wait until the next inning (the next time your team is on offense). So if you were 4th in the batting order and the defence got 3 outs, then you’ll be the 1st in the batting order for the next inning
Oh, and by the way, the batting queue replenishes itself. So in this example, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd players will assume slots 7, 8, and 9 (at the end of the queue) and wait for their turn to bat again
When it is a player’s turn in the batting order, they become the batter. They will grab a bat (wooden or aluminium) and head over to home plate
At home plate, the batter will face the pitcher from the defence. Squatting right behind the batter, will be the defence’s catcher. When everyone is ready, the pitcher will throw the ball (pitch) to the catcher
Now here is where it starts getting tricky because there are again, a few options
First, if the batter hits the ball somewhere in-bounds they can run to 1st base. In fact, if they can make it to 2nd, 3rd, or all the way home, without a defender tagging them out, they can go for it
Of course, if you don’t think you can make it to the next base, you may stop at whatever base you made it to
A “Single” means that you made it to first base. A “Double” means that you made it to second base. A “Triple” means that you made it to third. And a “Home Run” means that you made it all the way around the diamond in one go
Oh, by the way, if you knock the ball beyond the outfield wall, but still inbounds (between the foul lines), you get a home run, and any runners already on the bases will score as well
There is also a second way to get on base, that does not involve hitting the ball
If the pitcher fails to throw accurately 4 times, and the batter does not swing the bat at those 4 balls, the batter gets to go to 1st base (called “a walk”)
So how accurate does the pitcher need to be?
Well, the pitcher has a “strike zone” that he/she must throw into
Think of the strike zone as a cube that extends from the front to the back of home plate, and from one side of home plate to the other, and from the knees to the elbows of the batter
If the pitcher throws the ball outside of that cube 4 times, it is a walk
Oh, and, though this should never happen, if the pitcher hits the batter with the ball, it is an automatic walk too. Ouch!
And remember, I told you about a strike out as one of the ways to get an out?
Well, here’s where that comes in. If the pitcher throws the ball within the strike zone and the batter either does not swing, or swings and misses, it is a strike
If the pitcher gets 3 strikes, the batter is out and the offense shifts to the next batter in the batting order
Oh, and there is just one more small caveat. If the batter hits a pitch, but the ball goes out-of-bounds (outside the foul lines), then it is counted as a strike unless the batter already has 2 strikes, in which case the “foul ball” as it is called, is simply ignored
Finally, although this is very rare, if on the third strike, the catcher drops the ball, the runner may run to first base as if he/she had hit the ball
At that point, whether the batter is out or makes it safely to one of the bases, the next batter in the batting order (the batter on deck) comes up
When he/she hits the ball, the runners on base can run to the next base (or, again, further if he/she thinks it’s safe)
But note that runners can only move forward. You can never have 2 offensive players on the same base or the lead runner is called out
Things will go on like that, with the base runners progressing around the diamond until the defence gets 3 outs, or a runner makes it all the way to home plate
If the runner makes it to home plate, the offense scores a run!
One last couple of things about base running
First, any runner on base can steal, by running to the next base even if the batter has not hit the ball
However, they need to be fast because they can only steal when the pitcher or catcher has the ball or when it is in the air between the two of them
Second, if the batter hits the ball, but the ball is caught by the defence without hitting the ground, the runner must touch the base that they started on, after the catch is made, before they can advance to the next base
If the ball hits the ground before it is caught, the runners can advance any time they want
OK, so them’s the basic rules. But the fun of softball is all about what you do with the rules given the context. Softball is a very strategic & tactical game. On the next slide I’ve suggested a few youtube videos that will give you a taster of both. Click on the thumbnails to watch!
What does the defence do when runners are on 1st & 3rd with less than 2 outs? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyi1iAilgcw What do runners do if batter hits into the outfield? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaK-TUKaGKc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmCzNIV-2u8 How do you execute a cutoff with a runner on first? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZjhVvi78-4&list=UUgf9-zJ1kk7KYOu1y3YwIfw&index=154 What footwork should a short stop have for line drive up the middle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHTISuYgVmw&index=158&list=UUgf9-zJ1kk7KYOu1y3YwIfw How do you transfer ball from glove to throwing hand http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12vfNtAir5s&list=UUgf9-zJ1kk7KYOu1y3YwIfw&index=162 How do you hold the bat?
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CREATIVE COMMONS ATTRIBUTIONS & REFERENCES Slide 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dony31/ Slides 2-4: Lim Li Hsien Slides 5-9, 20-23: https://www.flickr.com/photos/buehlerphoto/ Slide 10: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rainbowbeth/ Slide 11: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zoso_tc/ Slide 12: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sportsphoto91/ Slide 13: https://www.flickr.com/photos/inserttitlehere/ Slide 14, 50, 52, 56, 59: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chemisti/ Slide 15: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sillydog/ Slide 16: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnikrj/ Slide 17: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sethw/ Slide 18, 28, 36: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/ Slide 19: https://www.flickr.com/photos/robbyryke/ Slide 24: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kanaka/ Slide 25: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60035031@N06/ Slide 26: https://www.flickr.com/photos/albedo20/ Slide 27: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dirkhansen/ Slide 29: https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/ Slide 31: https://www.flickr.com/photos/artolog/ Slide 32: https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnmquick/ Slide 33: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aka_kath/ Slide 34: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pmillera4/ Slide 35: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamie-williams-photo/ Slide 38: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adwriter/ Slide 39: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattfolsom/ Slide 40: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mshipp/ Slide 41: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredpolin/ Slide 42: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donovanshots/ Slide 43: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zacwong/ Slide 44: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anythreewords/ Slide 45: https://www.flickr.com/photos/giando/ Slide 46: https://www.flickr.com/photos/furanda/ Slide 47: https://www.flickr.com/photos/welchok/ Slide 48: https://www.flickr.com/photos/-konayuki-/ Slide 49, 66: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigwestconference/ Slide 51: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eagle102/ Slide 54: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60035031@N06/ Slide 55: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whartz/ Slide 57: https://www.flickr.com/photos/frigante/ Slide 58: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bigwestconference/ Slide 60: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jduty/ Slide 61: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltiempocom/ Slide 62: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wrightones/ Slide 63: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33779774@N08/ Slide 65: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eselby/ Slide 67: https://www.flickr.com/photos/furanda/ Slide 68: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chemisti/ Slide 69: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/ This Slide: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21572939@N03/