Drag Bunt Strategy
Fastpitch Softball Slapping
What is Slapping?
Fastpitch slapping skills are performed from the left side of the batter’s box. The batter gets a running start toward the pitcher while the pitch is being delivered. Then, she strategically places the ball in the infield. Or, she drives the ball hard through the infield. All the while, the slapper continues accelerating to first base.
What is a Drag Bunt?
While accelerating out of the box, lay the ball down soft and slow down either baseline.
Often, the drag bunt is the slapper’s first option. The defense should remember that the slapper laid down a successful bunt the last at-bat and position closer to the plate. The chances of a hard slap or regular swing-away getting through the infield increase.
If the defense does not adjust, use the drag bunt strategy all day!
Observe Defensive Positioning at Bat-Ball Contact to Determine Drag Bunt Strategy
Coaches and slappers can observe how the defense is playing the slapper to gauge the drag bunt’s chances to be successful. Remember, though, defensive positioning is dynamic with good defensive teams when a slapper is up to bat. Fielders are moving with the pitcher. For example, the first or third baseman may set up before the pitch a few steps from their base, but by the time the pitch arrives at the plate, the corners have crept in further toward the plate.
When to Drag Bunt
Here are the situations where the drag bunt can be used and the chances of success based on the positioning of the defense.
All percentages assume an excellent drag bunt where the ball is laid down soft, close to the baseline, and rolls at least ten feet from the catcher – percentages go up for the younger levels and less experienced fielders.
Estimates do not include at least a ten percent chance of error when the infielder must make a hurried throw.
- The third baseman positions within 10’ feet of third base at contact. Eighty percent chance of a base hit.
- The first baseman positions within 10’ of first base at contact, and the pitcher has bunt coverage down first baseline. Sixty percent chance of a base hit.
- The third baseman positions within 11’ to 25’ of third base at contact. Sixty percent chance of a base hit.
- The first baseman positions within 11’ to 25’ of first base at contact, and the first baseman has bunt coverage down first baseline. Fifty percent chance of a base hit.
- The third baseman positions within 26’ to 40’ of third base at contact. Twenty percent chance of a base hit.
- The first baseman positions within 26’ to 40’ of first base at contact, and the first baseman has bunt coverage down first baseline. Ten percent chance of a base hit.
Further Considerations for Drag Bunt Strategy
A few important points from this list to remember:
- If you plan to drag bunt for a base hit and the third baseman and first baseman are playing in equally, go down third base and take advantage of the long throw to first.
- Many slap defenses play the third baseman closer to the plate than the first baseman taking away the drag down third. Some defenses will give bunt responsibility down the first baseline to the pitcher. This is a mistake against a good drag bunter who is comfortable going down the first baseline.
- If the third or first baseman is 25’ or less from third base, a good drag bunter should have a sixty percent and greater chance of getting a base hit.
- If the defense does not adjust, use the drag bunt strategy all day!
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