throwing at runners

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Jan 18, 2021
During a HS game a Catcher threw at a runner at first with a runner at 2nd with no outs. I commented that that was not a play the catcher should make in a close game, Immediately I had another parent say he would do it every time if he was coaching. I made the comment that if the opposing coach was paying attention the runner would have been in scoring position. I even commented that smart baserunners will punish the defense on those type plays. In the game also she threw at a runner taking second and let a run score (she got the out and the run scored, we won easily so it did not matter)
What is everyone thought on when catchers should throw at runners on base in pick off attempts or on steal attempts
Jun 11, 2013
I hate seeing catchers just throw the ball all over the field, but if you see an opportunity for an easy out go for it. Have a HS C throwing to a HS 1B should be a pretty safe play.
May 6, 2015
I have opposite problem with DD, she rarely make a pickoff attempt. think she needs to throw more pickoffs, needs to practice it.
Nov 20, 2020
SW Missouri
I think it’s situational. The safe bet is to only throw at the lead runner in a pick off attempt. Many times (at younger ages) you see 1B runners get lazy on their return to the base. So it’s enticing.

If runners are on 2B and 1B with both not really paying attention then give it a shot. But the throw better be good because an over throw likely advances both runners. 2B advances for sure. The risk vs reward is tough on this one.

I don’t like a throw down to 2B when a runner is at 3B. It’s too easy to score on if 3B is paying attention. Let them have 2B at that point. I think mentally it’s easier on the pitcher/catcher as well. Just worry about one runner....not two.


Possibilities & Opportunities!
Dec 13, 2019
Back pick whenever and where ever an out can be made.

Catcher should already be aware of lead off distances of the runners. Directly apon that 'intent to throw moment'.
If a runner is FAR off 2nd. That may be better to pick there.
As it could be a delay play.
Watching runners body posture and weight shift is a learned skill.

It should be noted that the same throwing mechanics can be a back pick to 2nd or 1st base.
Would not want my runner on 2nd to relax by any means with a catcher who is capable.
Getting back to the base is critical, not to be tinkered with.

Both runners often will/have already turned to get back to their bases.
Simply, Back picks, in most cases, trigger runners to return to their base.

Communication from other infielders should be enough to counter a delay runner attempting to then go to 3rd from 2nd.
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May 24, 2013
So Cal
Depends on the skill level of the players, and the game situation. If the fielders have the quickness and arm strength to be able to get the second out a high percentage of the time, I'm okay with C being aggressive with her throwing. If it's a medium-percentage play on the first out due to the quality of the fielders or the throwing abilities of C, it's probably better to hold the ball. There are a lot of variables in these decisions, including game score.

On my DD's TB team, there is a much higher percentage of getting outs. On her HS team, not so much. She adjusts accordingly.
May 7, 2015
Totally agree with the sentiment that catchers need to try... They will make errors in judgement on when to throw, but being afraid to pick is not looked upon favorably.

My favorite is 2 out back picks.. Often with multiple runners on, the lead offs get big enough to try a back pick on the trailing runner.


Allergic to BS
Nov 14, 2014
Pick-off plays are probably the lowest percentage defensive plays in softball. Low chance of reward with enormous risk in a close game with runners in scoring position. However, there's nothing wrong with throwing down to 1B early in the game with only one on to give the opposing baserunners something to think about. Unlike attempts at 3B, the runner isn't in the way of the throw.

Once your team becomes reasonably proficient at moving the ball around the infield, I'm a fan of going for that out at 2B in a "corners" situation. With practice and some athleticism in the middle infield, it's not only possible to get the runner going to 2B, but also get the runner trying to score from 3B on the same play.