Softball Bunt Defense

Power of Coaching Softball

The softball bunt defense options can be as simple and complicated as you like and will depend on your coaching philosophy.  The bunt defense that you use will depend on your team abilities and of course the scouting reports and experience with the opposition.  It will also depend on where runners are on base and how many are out.  Of course you want to first prevent a run from scoring and get an out.  Lead runner if you can, if not you need to get an out at first base.

Softball Bunt Defense Options

Softball Bunt Defense 1

First and third move in and share responsibility for the bunt with the pitcher and the catcher. It is a good option maybe for young teams who are not strong hitters or if you are a team who always sacrifice bunts in the situation.  It is critical that you know the offense for this alignment as it can be dangerous and has its disadvantages.  Communication is essential.

Advantage:

  • batter may be intimidated
  • short bunts may be discouraged
  • quick access to the ball
  • middle infielders are close to the bases for a pick off

Disadvantage:

  • confusion on who fields the bunt
  • less reaction time on a hit ball
  • less coverage and backup on the bases on a hit
  • first and third are at risk of a hard hit ball

Softball Bunt Defense 2

First and third base players move in but with specific assignments.  The field is essentially divided for the defensive players where the left and right side are to the third and first base player and the catcher fields the bunt directly in front of them.  The pitcher fields anything that is sent directly to them such as a push bunt.

Advantages:

  • less congestion around the ball
  • the batter may be intimidated by the defensive presence
  • it may discourage a bunt
  • middle infielders are in a good position to execute a pick-off
  • pitcher responsibilities are less

Disadvantage:

  • less reaction time on a hit ball
  • less coverage and backup on the bases on a hit
  • first and third are at risk of a hard hit ball

Softball Bunt Defense 3

First base stays in her regular position to cover first in case the left handed pull hitter hits the ball to the right side..  Pitcher takes bunts on the first base side while the catcher fields bunts directly in front of her.  The third base player fields bunts on the third base side.  This leaves the second base player to cover second and the shortstop to cover third base.  This is a good bunt coverage with a runner on first base because it covers all of the bases and especially third base which is at risk of a runner coming all the way around from first.

Advantages:

  • less fielding confusion on the bunt
  • double backup at third base by the shortstop and left fielder
  • third baseman can hold a runner at third by being up the line there for a quick pick off throw
  • prevent the double base advancement of a runner on first on the bunt
  • pitcher covers for a first base player who has trouble fielding bunts
  • first base player has the right side line with a pull hitter

Disadvantages:

  • the movement opens up the middle of the field if the pitcher moves prematurely to field a bunt
  • running slap bunters can take advantage of the right side that is opened up

Softball Bunt Defense 4

This is basically the same as option 3 but on the other side of the field.  The third base player stays back and the first base player moves in.  Second base covers first base and the pitcher fields a bunt on the left side of the field while the first base player fields bunts on the right side and the catcher fields bunts in front of the plate.  This coverage is good with a runner on second or third base or no runners on base.  It will also give extra coverage for a right hand pull hitter.

Advantages:

  • less fielding confusion on the bunt
  • double backup at third base by the shortstop and left fielder
  • third baseman can hold a runner at third by being up the line there for a quick pick-off throw
  • keeps runners close to the base if on second or third
  • pitcher covers for a third base player who has trouble fielding bunts
  • third base player has the left side line with a pull hitter

Disadvantage:

  • the movement opens up the middle of the field if the pitcher moves prematurely to field a bunt
  • running slap bunters can take advantage of the left side that is opened up

Softball Bunt Defense 5

First and third base players remain in their positions while the pitcher and catcher field all bunts.  This is a good option when the defense wants the offense to bunt or if the offense rarely uses the bunt effectively.  It is also good when the situation does not call for the bunt or the offensive team has good hitters or the specific hitter never bunts or is a quality hitter.

Advantages:

  • corners are ready for a hit ball
  • much less confusion on who takes the bunt
  • Push or slap bunts are discouraged
  • easier to keep base runners close to the base
  • double coverage on all bases with a runner on first
  • pitcher can cover if corners have difficulty fielding bunts

Disadvantages:

  • pitcher has a big area to cover
  • a lot of responsibility for the battery
  • the pitchers fielding responsibilities might negatively effect her pitching focus

Softball Bunt Defense 6

The corners, pitcher and catcher all share responsibility for fielding the bunt.  The second base player covers first and shortstop covers second base.  An outfielder or all outfielders move in to back up the bases and act as secondary infielders if the ball is hit through the infield.  This would be a good play for when there is a weak batter at the plate with no runners in scoring position.

Advantage:

  • all bases are covered if the batter gets the ball passed the corners
  • batter may be intimidated by the presence of the fielders
  • first and third can get to the bunt sooner
  • a bunt might be discouraged
  • base runner movement might be discouraged

Disadvantages:

  • fielding confusion around the bunted ball
  • gaps in the outfield
  • a good hit will get passed the outfield

The key as in any play is practice practice practice.  Knowing the cues to look for in a bunt situation are critical to effectiveness of a bunt defense.  The coach may have a set play that is called before the pitch or the catcher or on field captain may call the play.  It is important to know the offense and be prepared that they may read the defense and react to your positioning.  Experiment with the softball bunt defenses to see which works the best for your specific team.