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Situation: What would you do?

Ken Krause

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Admin
May 7, 2008
3,448
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Mundelein, IL
Saw this in a high school game last night and found it fascinating as an intellectual coaching exercise. (Is that an oxymoron?) Anyway, here's the situation.

Home team is down 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh in a Regional game. The winner continues, the loser goes home. Home team was down 3-0 going into the inning, but a double turned into a run when the visitors made two throwing errors to bring a not very fast runner home.

After that, visitors wind up with runners on first and third with two outs. The number 7 hitter is up to bat. R1 has good speed, but not blinding speed. Home team hasn't had many runners on base so they haven't tried the catcher yet. Pitcher is not particularly dominating, but she's looked mighty good today. So here's the question.

Do you attempt to steal the runner to second to put the tying run in scoring position? Obviously if you fail you're done. But if the visitors throw the ball away on the attempt, you probably score the runner on third, and maybe advance the runner on first all the way to third.

The other big question, of course, is will the visitors throw down at all, or will they give you the freebie to avoid complications and focus on the runner?

What would you do?
 
May 7, 2008
1
0
What to do?

Interesting situation which doesn't come up all the time.
First, you probably don't have a lot of time to make a decision, but the thought process would be as as follows, (if it were my team).
You are almost in a situation that you have to send the runner. You haven't scored many runs, therefore, you need to try to make something happen. I know its the last inning and if the runner gets thrown out its over, but its probably over anyway if you don't. More than likely, the defense will ignore her.
If I'm coaching the defense, I let the runner go down to second without making a play on her and depend on my pitcher and defense to get the batter out. Even if my catcher has a great arm and my SS is equally as good, there are too many moving parts here for something to go wrong. Like I said, you've only scored 1 run, so I would make the batter beat me.
There are many variables here, but I would play the percentages.

JMHO
 
May 7, 2008
110
0
The fact that it is a win-or-go-home game DEMANDS aggressive base running in this situation! RUN, RUN, RUN!

If you steal and it leads to a win, your team has momentum and excitement going into the next game.

If your steal attempt fails, you gather the girls around you after the game. Look them all in the eyes and tell them how proud you are to be their coach. You gambled and it didn't work out BUT that's the kind of ball we play here! We are going to the aggressor, we are going to take the game to our opponents and we NEVER look back. Have a great summer with your travel teams.

Keith
 
May 9, 2008
432
0
Hartford, CT
What would you do?

Let her have 2nd ....
even the best catcher-short combo can miscommunicate.
Runner will go home.

Why not short throw to SS in close instead of to 2nd .. just an option but still risky as kids do drop balls....but if runner on 3rd takes the bait...you might get her out at home....

I've seen more kids left on base so keeping the runner on 3rd is probably more important...
....let the pitcher concentrate on the batter and let your fieders do their job.....

SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS A GOOD GAME AND THEY (both teams) SHOULD BE PROUD OF A GAME WELL PLAYED.

WHAT DID
THEY DO?
 
May 21, 2008
12
0
I don't know if I would send the runner or not. Only the coach knows their player well enough, but if I felt I had a reasonable chance of making it, I would send her and try to get her to second. After all, the #7 hitter is up so I don't know how confident I am that I will see two or three more hits to get her home from 1st.

As far as defensively, I throw down for sure. I couldn't care less about the runner on 3rd and I will take a free shot at ending the game by trying to throw the runner out at second. The only way the runner can make it all the way to third is if I blow my back up. If we can't execute a throw down to second with proper backup, then we should lose. I don't like to play defense scared. This is a situation where the defense should still be in charge.

Not to mention that it is entirely possible that the player running from 1st may not understand the situation that well and think she will be given 2nd base with no throw and loaf it.
 
May 5, 2008
358
0
If I send the runner, I do a fake quick bunt even though you're unlikely yo really bunt in that situation, you still give the middle something to think about instaed of just let them make the play.

Also depends on what #7 has done throughout the night. Not all #7 batters are created equal. Also depends on what kind of speed is at third. If that runner is quick enough, smart enough, and aggressive enough to get home on any knd of throw down, then I'm more likely to go.

On D I would have the cut in place with the option to cut home if the runner breaks or if she sees that the throw is offline. This is something our 2b work on so they have practiced making that read. If the throw is online and the 3b runner isn't going anywhere, let the ball go down and try to get that last out. Don't allow the tying run into scoring position without some kind of play eve if the play is a pick to 3rd rather than a throw down to second. Again, depends on what kind of runner is at third. Also depends on whether or not my pitcher has owned that #7 batter all night. If so I may consider giving up the bag and jus concentrating on getting the batter.

I tend to agree with the others, if you haven't had much going all night and it's a do or die game, on the O side you probably push to make something happen.
 
May 7, 2008
235
0
Love it.

First, what I believe you meant to say is if "home" throws the ball away (not "visitor") on the attempt... or is this one of those brain teasers, Ken :))

Offensively, I would steal because as Coach 11 pointed out, there are two outs in a do or die situation. I would allow the pitcher to throw her first pitch to determine her focus. Does she appear distracted by the base runners or focused on the batter? She needs to focus on the batter who is the final out. Defensively, I would concern myself with the batter, good pitches, no pass balls (runner on third). Using defensive indifference I would allow the runner to take second considering the third out is standing at the plate, the pitcher is having a good day, and my team is home (another at bat). Visitors, in this scenario, must be aggressive. In what I would consider a good line up, the 7th batter doesn't mean a weak batter. I see many coaches put all their meat in the front of the lineup and wonder why they continue that strategy when games come down to this scenario. I have watched way too many games where the team has the potential to tie or win the game, but oops! Top or bottom of the final inning, its Larry, Mo, and Curly.

Take second,

Ang
 
May 21, 2008
12
0
I don't understand why some folks would be concerned with the runner on third. The game is a two run game at the time with two outs in the last inning. You could give the team the run and take the runner off third base for all I care. Get her out of my players mind. I don't care about her a bit.

My focus would obviously be on the hitter but also on the runner on first. This isn't like baseball where the runner on first takes a lead off and the pitcher can be distracted trying to hold the runner close and worrying about the hitter. The pitcher has only one job and that is to pitch. The catcher and the middle infielders should do everything to try and get the final out on the steal attempt. If my pitcher doesn't have to throw another pitch that is better than having to throw one. I don't see indifference as an option. It doesn't protect me from anything in this situation.

I guess if a trick play would produce a better chance of getting the final out at home but that should be unlikely. If they are a well coached team at bat the runner on third is going nowhere on the throw down. Why risk it when you will still need another hit to get in the tying run. If you get that next hit to tie the game the runner on third will be able to crawl home on her hands and knees.
 
May 7, 2008
235
0
Wild pitch/pass ball, runner scores, momentum shifts, regardless of the reality, "It's okay, we're still winning." I have even seen Mariano Rivera distracted with baserunners and lose control. It has nothing to do with softball or baseball because it's psychological.

Ang
 
May 21, 2008
12
0
Wild pitches and passed balls added into the discussion would obviously change everything we are talking about. As a matter of fact, that would make the whole discussion a moot point. Wild pitches and passed balls happen before the scenario we are discussing, I think. I believe the discussion is assuming the catcher makes a clean receive of the pitch and now the defense has to make the choice to throw down or not.

I disagree with the analogy to Mariano Rivera. Pitchers getting distracted by base runners should be a baseball thing but not a softball thing. The reason why Mariano can be distracted by base runners is he has two things to focus on, the size of the leadoff the runner on base is getting and the hitter. A softball pitcher does not have to worry about the runner on base because they can not lead off. The pitchers focus in softball should be 100% on the hitter. They have no responsibilities in thwarting the running game.

If a pitcher does not focus well with runners on base that is a more general problem with her focus and not something that can be improved by showing defensive indifference toward a base stealer. The runners are still gonna be on base afterwards and she's still gonna have that focus problem. Besides, how distracted a pitcher gets with anything before they deliver a pitch has nothing to do with whether the catcher should attempt to throw the runner out at second once the pitch has been delivered.

Oh my god, look what time it is. What am doing on this board talking softball at this time of the night. I think I need help. I'm gonna kill the guy who told me about this site.
 

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