Third Base Characteristics

the softball zone, third base characteristics

The third base characteristics include quickness, the ability to knock down a ball and a good range around the base.  The area doesn’t seem large, but it’s a long throw to first base so this player also needs to have a good arm.  Although many hitters are hitting on the left side by design, the ones who hit on the right side will have power because it is their often natural strength.   A good spot depending on the hitter, and the number of out, is inside the foul line far enough so she can reach a ball up the line, and a few steps in front of the base.  If the ball escapes past third, extra bases are more likely.  Standing too close to the base line may also interfere with a runner rounding the base which can cause injury and allow her to score.

Many third base players also wear a fielders mask for safety as the ball is coming off the bat much faster than it did in the early days of softball, when bats were not as reactive to the ball and players were not as precisely trained to hit with power. The proximity  to home plate requires that she be alert, ready and exceptionally quick.  Willingness to maintain position in front of hard hit balls and to block them with the body, if necessary is an invaluable asset for any athlete who want to play the hot corner.

Third Base Characteristics

Although the  third base player must react and move quickly, running speed is not as important as say an outfielder or a middle infielder who has to cover more ground.  They must be able to respond quickly though to different types of balls such as a line drives, bunts, hard ground balls and slow rollers.  This means she at times needs to be able to charge the ball, field it, and throw to a base in one continuous motion.  The different fielding requirements means that she needs to be able to quickly throw with accuracy from different positions in the corner and different distances depending on the game situation.

The ability to think and react quickly is important because the ball will often get to her faster than to most other positions.  Good fielding abilities along with a strong and accurate throwing arm will determine how far from the base she can play.  The stronger her arm is for example, the deeper she can play in her position.  This will giver her more time to react to the ball off the bat.  The game situation will also have an impact on her positioning which is why she also needs to be a student of the game.

Protecting Third:

This ability is an important part of the third base characteristics.  In the late innings of a game if the score is close, the third base player needs to be able guard the third-base line. This may happen when there is a runner on second or scoring position.  The player needs to stop the ball from getting down the left field line in order to prevent the run from scoring.  If the defensive team is far enough ahead and it is late in the game, and there is potential for an out at a base, a safer and more sure fielding position will be more beneficial.

Another situation is if there is a runner on second in a close game and the third base player fields a slow roller on the first base side of the plate, a decision needs to quickly be made on the runner on second if she has the potential to take off for third base.  Keep in mind that the backup needs to be there for the throw to tag her out or a run will score for sure.   If there are 2 out of course the out would be at first if possible.

If the ball is fielded on the left side of the infield, there is a better chance of actually making an out at third if the runner from second goes.  The runner at second will often look to see what the fielder is going to do. The fielder can give a convincing look to send her back to second and still have time to throw to first base for the sure out.  The out is made and the runner is held at second.

Third Base Considerations:

  • it is best to have a strong arm and know her range to the left
  • must be quick and aggressive and have the guts to stay down in front of hard hit balls
  • should always be alert for possible bunt situations
  • shouldn’t hesitate or pull up short on balls hit toward short
  • shortstop will call third base off if they feel that they have a better play
  • third base can’t afford to play horizontal
  • be able to dive to knock down drives, especially those hit to the right which could end up as doubles
  • often able to knock down a ground ball, pounce on it, and still have time to throw out a runner
  • must work on charging slow rollers
  • if the ball is rolling, use 2 hands to field it into the glove
  • if the ball has stopped, pick it up with the throwing hand and release a quick throw
  • never take eyes off a slow roller until it is held securely in the hand
  • two methods of picking up a stopped ball with hands – secure a good grip by pushing the ball into the ground with the palm, or scoop it up with the fingers underneath it into the glove.  Players with smaller hands may have more success with the second method.

The third base characteristics require confidence as it is a hot corner which needs a quick reacting player with a good arm.  Safety is critical so if she wishes, she should be provided with a fielders mask which might also alleviate fear of getting hurt.   Many players want to play third because they get the ball a lot.  Make sure that she practices and that she is capable of playing at the defensive level of the oppositions offensive capabilities.