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Being able to cover the bunt can be the difference in winning and losing. How you run your fastpitch softball bunt defense coverages will depend on your players and the situation.

In this article we explain two different ways to setup your bunt coverages. The first is a more traditional way, and the second option that we will cover can make rotations more simple for your infielders.

If you watch the College World Series on any given year, the first option below is what you will typically see being used. Just keep in mind that you probably aren't coaching D1 athletes like you see on TV. Which means you may need to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your players when deciding on the best coverages.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the two options...

Softball Bunt Defense Option #1: "Cone" Bunt Coverage

This is a more traditional way of doing your bunt defense. 

When done properly, this coverage will maximize your ability to get to the bunt quickly. 

The only down-side is that a lot more movement is required of your infielders, which makes timing a critical component. 

Watch the video for an in-depth explanation!

To recap, here are the key components to the "Cone" bunt defense setup:

  1. Both the 1st & 3rd basemen will crash when they see the bunt.
  2. The pitcher & catcher will cover any bunts that are closest to them.
  3. Second baseman hustles over to 1st base to take the throw.
  4. The shortstop will cover either 2nd base or 3rd base depending on the situation (see the video at 1:25 mark for more details).
  5. If the shortstop is covering 2nd base, the pitcher, catcher, or third basemen will need to hustle back to cover 3rd base!  (Communication is key here). 
  6. If the shortstop is covering 3rd base, the center fielder needs to cover 2nd base!
  7. Coaches decision: You will need to tell your SS/2B players to either move as soon as they see bunt OR read the batter (see video at 3:30 mark).
  8. Encourage your third baseman to get to everything they can because they are already moving the best direction.

Softball Bunt Defense Option #2: “1-Back” Bunt Coverage

The second bunt defense coverage we will cover today is called the "1-Back" defense.  In this setup, the 1st baseman is staying back.

This coverage makes things much easier on the defense, and can help to "hide" some weaknesses in your infield.

Watch the video for an in-depth explanation.

This is a defense that you may want to consider under the following circumstances:

  1. You have a first baseman that is not exceptionally quick.
  2. Your first baseman does not throw very well.
  3. You have a pitcher that is very quick (and covers the first baseline very well on bunts).
  4. Your second baseman struggles to receive throws at first base in bunt situations.
  5. You don’t believe the other team can bunt very well down the first base line.
  6. You want to take some pressure off of your defense and make their rotation and coverages very simple.

The "1-Back" bunt defense coverage can definitely simplify things for your fastpitch softball players.

However, like all things strategic anytime you do something to give yourself an advantage you are often going to be giving something up elsewhere.

In this situation what you are giving up is making your team more vulnerable to a bunt down the first base line.  So you have to play the odds and ask yourself which “odds” you prefer.

In contrast, in the "cone" setup you are giving up the "ease" of base coverage, increasing the chance of errors.  And you are also somewhat giving up second base when you have to have your center fielder cover the bag. 

Slap Defense Note:

Another thing that you can do with the "1-Back" softball bunt coverage is use it as a basic defense against slap-hitters.

If you are uncertain about how to set up a defense to slow down a slapper, simply have your players go in to the one-back softball bunt defense setup and take a few steps in (play everyone more shallow).

Doing this will put them in an alignment that is very similar to some of the “specialized” slap defenses that you will see teams using. This is an easy way to install a slap-defense without causing confusion with your players.

So there you have it. Two fastpitch softball bunt defense coverages that you can install immediately. You can use one, or you can even use them both.

Just be sure to take an honest look at your players strengths and weaknesses to help determine what options are best for your team!

(By Tim Covey, Founder of Covey Sports)

Have questions or comments? Leave them in the comments section below!

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