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by Tim Covey
Do you want to score more runs with your team this year? Then you may want to take some time to research the best ways on how to make a softball lineup.
Sometimes these decisions are just a “gut” feeling. However, I do have two important “rules of thumb” that I always consider when thinking through all of the factors about how to make a softball lineup that will help my team score more runs.
By “rabbits” I mean your girls with the most speed. If you want to maximize your ability to score runs and put pressure on the defense, then having fast players that can run the bases well is a huge factor!
Usually my 9, 1, and 2 hitters will be three of my fastest. Oftentimes these will be my slappers.
Just keep in mind that if you are going to put them at the top of the order then they should also be consistent hitters with your higher batting averages.
Regardless of where you put them, the key is to avoid putting one of your slowest players in a spot just ahead of your fastest player.
This is why the #9 slot is so important. If you have a girl with good speed but does not belong at the top of the order (not as strong of a hitter), then the #9 slot may be the perfect place for her. The last thing you want is a slow player clogging up the bases in front of your leadoff hitter with great speed.
Sometimes people think the #9 hitter should always be your weakest hitter. However, the #9 hitter will oftentimes jumpstart a rally. And when she is fast she can be a huge weapon in front of your leadoff hitter.
For this reason, it can be wise to have a #9 hitter that is a more consistent hitter than your #7 or #8 hitters…simply because she is fast.
The “bottom line” is that if you can group your speed together then where they are in the order isn’t the most critical component…the critical component is simply that they ARE grouped together.
Some coaches will use bunting ability as the one factor for deciding whom to make the #2 hitter in the lineup. While it is wise to consider her ability to bunt, it is not the only factor that should be considered. It will give your offense a big lift when the #2 hitter is also a consistent hitter.
It will help your offense tremendously if you are confident that your #2 hitter can get on base at any point in the game. While it is a huge plus for her to be an effective bunter (when needed), it is also important that she can keep a rally going (or start one) with her hitting.
If you put a player at #2 that can only bunt, it can be a momentum killer in those moments that you need her to swing the bat. Many coaches “waste” this spot in the order all in the name of “bunting.”
The other issue with this is that with a weak #2 hitter, you are creating a potential scenario where a team could easily pitch around your leadoff hitter in order to pitch to a much weaker #2 hitter. And this is never a good thing.
How to make fill out your softball lineup card or scorebook effectively is an inexact science. What works one day may not work the next. It takes a mindset of flexibility and fluidity in order to fit the pieces together “right.”
However, when you group speed together, and find the right player for the #2 spot in your order, you can increase your teams ability to score more runs.
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by Mark Ritchhart
by Tim Covey