Any time the ball is fielded with runners on base, the first goal is to get the lead runner. The double play at second is the most common double play because of the proximity to second base for the throw, the high percentage of runners at first base and the time it takes the runner to get to first base from the batters box. The softball second base double play success will depend on where the ball is fielded and where the ball is received is in relation to second base. There are a few options for a double play depending on the runner.
Softball Second Base Double Play Options
- If the runner is on the way to second and the second base player fields the ball, she can attempt to tag the runner then throw to first for the double play. If she misses the tag, and the runner moves out of the base path, the runner should be called out because she left the base path. If she misses the runner and the runner stays in the base path, she should quickly throw to second if she can or to first for the sure out depending on if she is left or right handed. If there is no play on the lead runner she needs to throw to first quickly for the sure out.
- Tag second base and throw to first for the double play. This option is preferred if possible because the less people that have to handle the ball the less chance for an error on a specific play.
- Throw to the shortstop at second base. Make sure the throw is at a good height to assist in the transfer to the throw to first base. Practice this because sometimes the thrower is afraid to throw without the other player there to catch it. Throw to the base and assume the other fielder will be there to catch the ball and make the play. Where the throw goes will also dictate the pivot that the player turning the double play uses.
- If it is a line drive, be aware to throw to first right away for a runner who has left without the opportunity to get back in time for the force back at first base.
Second Base Double Play Pivots
If a ground ball is fielded by the shortstop with a runner on first, it will be the second base player who pivots to turn the double play. The same if the second base player fields the ball, then the shortstop will be the player who pivots. It is more common for the second baseman to be receive the ball at second as most balls will be fielded on the left side of the field.
Regardless of who the player is at second for the pivot, she needs to have her glove out in receiving position as a target while she is approaching the base for the throw. The receiver must also anticipate a bad or errant throw so that she is ready to make adjustments to not allow any further advancement of the runners as a ball goes to the outfield who should be backing up on this play.
Step Back Pivot
For a right handed thrower, when moving to second base from the outfield side of the base, the fielder steps on the outside edge of the base with the left foot as she is catching the ball, keeping most of the weight on the right foot. When the ball is in her glove, she then pivots back on her right foot or throwing side foot, placing her left foot now into a throwing position clearing the path of the runner sliding into second. As in throwing, push off the throwing side foot as the throw is made to first base for the out. This pivot is also used when the second baseman is late to the base for the throw.
Base Line Pivot
This footwork is the quickest and most common double play pivot. From the outfield side of the base, put wait for the throw and then step on the base quickly retracting the throwing side foot back and away from the base. While re setting up for the throw, bring the ball into throwing position while re setting the right or throwing foot in position to throw to first base for the out. The trouble with this footwork occurs when the second baseman steps toward first base on the base path and gets the feet of the runner attempting to break up the double play.
Step Across Pivot
When taking the ball from the shortstop side of the base, step on the base with the glove side foot with the glove in receiving position. As the ball is caught and transitioned into throwing position, step across the base with the throwing side foot planting it for a pivot and throw to first base for the out. This footwork also keeps the defensive player off the base path. This pivot can also be used when the second baseman is early for the throw from the shortstop.
Right Foot Drag Pivot
This is one of the most difficult pivots for the second base double play. Step over the base with the left or glove side foot, in the direction that the throw is coming from. As the ball is caught, the following right or throwing side foot drags across the base for the out. The second baseman then lands on the right foot, and pivots or crow hops toward first base to make the throw for the out.
Softball Double Play Practice
Softball is a fast game with lots of activity and sometimes many decisions to make. It is recommended that middle infielders practice all footwork for the double play so that they have more than one option. The most useful practice of the double play is to make sure that the second baseman has at least one play from each side of second base. If there is only one option, and the opposition has done their scouting, the know where and how to slide to hopefully evade the tag.