When it comes to fielding a ground ball in softball, every second counts. For infielders, taking advantage of any edge can be the difference between recording an out and allowing a baserunner to reach first base. Getting a good read on the ball can be a great way to set yourself up for success. Professional softball infielder Delaney Spaulding has some tips and tricks to help you anticipate an oncoming ground ball and how to stay a step ahead of your opponent this softball season.
While you can’t be 100 percent certain where a batted ball is going to go in the infield, you can increase your odds of anticipating correctly if you know what to look for prior to contact. “My first advice would be just to pay attention,” Spaulding says. “Pay attention to the batter, pay attention to what they did the previous at-bat, and also, most importantly, pay attention to your own pitcher.”
By understanding the tendencies of the batter at the plate — they use an open or closed stance, they’re a pull hitter, they’ve hit up the middle their past three plate appearances, etc. — then you can adjust your defensive setup accordingly to prevent any balls from reaching the outfield. By knowing your pitcher and which particular pitch they’re throwing at any given time, you can also anticipate where the ball will go.
CREEPING WITH ANTICIPATION
Once you have made your prediction on where the softball is likely to go, you can be ready to make the ground ball play. Spaulding recommends moving toward the batter and being ready to break down into a “pre-hop,” an athletic position just as the batter makes contact.
“As the pitch is delivered, I’m creeping forward and then I’m doing my pre-hop. Then I anticipate the ball and I transfer [my weight],” Spaulding says.
Being in motion rather than flat-footed allows your body to move easier if your predictions are off, making adjusting the to hit easier while extending your range of coverable ground.
Anticipating where to field a ground ball can expand your infield coverage and help you keep one step ahead of your opponents. Use Spaulding’s tips and tricks to forecast your fielding and strengthen your defense this softball season.
Discover even more tips from Spaulding like Mastering a Quick Transfer and Release.