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NFCA Coaching Tip Of The Week: Using The Bunt As An Offensive Weapon - Part II

Situation 1 -- Bases Empty, Bunting for a Hit.

As the batter squares to bunt, the third baseman starts to come in and in most cases, the first baseman is charging in as well. As the pitcher begins her motion, the batter pulls her bat back. This is accomplished by turning at the waist. Under no circumstances does the batter move her feet, hands or arms. As the pitcher is about to release the pitch, the batter turns back so that she is once again squared to bunt. If the pitch is a strike, she extends her arms into the pitch, which in conjunction with the added momentum of her turning motion will enable her to bunt or slap hit the ball with power. If the pitch is outside, then the objective is to make the first baseman move to her right to field the ball.

If the ball is bunted so that both the first baseman and second baseman move to field the ball, you have a good chance of getting a hit. If the pitch is inside, she keeps her left arm bent, extends the right arm and uses her wrists to direct the ball at the charging third baseman's feet or better yet, down the third base line. In either case, try to make the third baseman field the ball with her bare hand. Unless the third baseman makes a fantastic play, the batter has herself a hit. If the first baseman charges and the second baseman heads for first, then punch hit the ball (on the ground or in the air) behind the second baseman (to where the second baseman came from). If the ball gets by the pitcher, the batter has herself a hit.

Note: Will she always get a hit? Of course not. There are some pretty good players out there doing their best to make sure that she doesn't. But get the ball into play -- anything is better than striking out. Good things happen when you can force your opponents to make tough plays.

Situation 2 -- Runner on First, Less Than Two Outs

If the objective is simply to advance the runner,then the bunting strategy is slightly different. In this case, the batter does not turn back to the hitting position. She stays squared to bunt, again by having turned at the waist and her feet are still squared to the plate with knees and arms bent. The objective here is to drop the bunt toward the first base line, just far enough so that the catcher canít field the ball, forcing either the pitcher or the first baseman to make the play. If the first baseman has to field the ball (7-10 feet in front of the plate), she then has to stop, turn and fire, which is a tough play and greatly increases the chances for a bad throw. If the pitch is inside, then the objective is to pull the ball down the third base line or punch it right at the charging third basemanís feet. In either case, try to make her field the ball with her bare hand. Fielding the ball with your bare hand while charging is a difficult play to make, even for professionals. Remember, a good catcher should be able to throw the runner out at second if she can get to the ball quickly.

Situation 3 -- Runners on Second and Third or Bases Loaded, less than two outs.

The defensive strategy now shifts so that both the first baseman and third baseman are charging and the shortstop moves to cover third while the second baseman moves to cover first. The batter now has a hole wide enough to drive a truck through. Here, the bunting technique is exactly the same as Situation 1. Thebatter gets into her normal batting stance; she then squares to bunt by turning at the waist, arms and legs bent. As the pitcher begins her windup, she pulls the bat back by turning at the waist (arms and feet remain still) back to her hitting stance. Then, as the pitcher releases the ball, she turns back to her bunting stance, ready to straighten and extend her arms into the pitch. The combination of momentum generated by turning into the pitch combined with a firm strip, wrist flex and the straightening and extending of the arms generates tremendous power and control. Any punch hit, either over the pitcherís head or any bunt grounder that gets by the pitcher, will probably not only score the run but could also result in the batter ending up on second.

Showing the bunt, then re-squaring back to the hitting stance will often make it look like it is just a fake bunt, confusing and freezing the outfielders.

Note:

The squeeze bunt is a baseball play and since there is no leading off in softball, it should not be part of fastpitch softball's offensive strategy.