In the Batters Box with Brad Taylor: Issue Seven Young Ladies and Softball - A Style of Their Own (Pd Adv)

July 20, 2020 - In softball, a popular concept of batting (in every part of the country), is for the batter to set up in the batter’s box with her front foot forward of the plate. They, too many coaches and most players, have not considered that method as completely as they might have.

When I ask a player why she sets up so far forward, the most frequent answer I get is, “when the pitcher throws a drop pitch, I can hit it before it drops too low to hit.”

I then begin a series of gentle questions designed to “trap” this player, to make her think about any logic in her statement. It goes something like the following:

Brad: “Would you rather swing at a pitch when it’s a strike, or when it’s nothing?”
Player: “When it’s a strike.”

I repeat the question, merely to cement my question, and her answer, in her own mind.
Player: “When it’s a strike.”

Brad: “When the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, is it a strike, or is it nothing?”
Player: “It’s nothing.”

Brad: “When the ball is halfway to the plate, is it a strike, or is it nothing?”
Player: “It’s nothing.”

Brad: “When the ball is six inches in front of the plate, is it a strike, or is it nothing?”
Player: “It’s nothing.”

Brad: “When does that ‘nothing’ become a strike?”
Player: “When it reaches the plate.”

Brad: “Yet you insist on swinging at a pitch when it’s nothing.”
Player: “But my coaches tell me to swing at the ball before it drops too low to hit.”

Brad: “When the ball reaches the plate, but it’s too low to hit, what does that pitch become?”
Player: “Oh---a ball.”

This young lady is no different from thousands of other young ladies playing the game of softball, but like too many others she is learning from a coach, not from a teacher.

As I have stressed on many occasions, coaches tell players what to do---teachers show them how to do it. In the United States today, we have an overabundance of coaches in baseball and softball.

I have yet to meet a baseball or softball coach who fully understands that, discounting a batter’s eyesight, power, determination, desire, discipline, or any other personal attribute, every batter’s most important asset in the batter’s box is Time. Nothing else comes even close to the importance of Time. Without question, the upfront setup at the plate is in total violation of that absolute. Every upfront batter is stealing time---from himself---or from herself.

I wonder, if the batter’s box were extended six feet closer to the pitcher, would those batters set up farther forward to give themselves even less time to react to a pitch? What a sad thought.


They call it “slap” hitting, and any time there are opposing views to a subject, each side must be valued for its overall importance. Intelligent young ladies who hope to improve their game to its highest level of play must weigh the pros and cons, then determine which course they will follow. A question---“how smart are you?”

Let’s discuss the positives and negatives of a “slapper,” almost exclusively a left-hand batter, who begins her movement forward as the pitcher begins her delivery.


  • If a batter is extremely fast and makes perfect contact, (perfect contact in this instance is a poorly hit ball that bounces high in the air---or a ball hit poorly to an infielder), she can often outrun the ball to first base. Other positives are almost non-existent.


  • A body in motion has no eye focus on an approaching object (the ball).
  • Much less power---not anchoring the most powerful body parts---the legs and feet.
  • Less barrel control (a body in motion has less control of the bat than a stationary body.)
  • More easily fooled by change-of-speed pitches.
  • Less time to see the ball---there again is that all-important word---time
  • A left-handed batter getting an early jump often finds herself angling toward first base, if only slightly, away from the strike zone---away from the area of most effect on the pitcher.
  • Balls hit less- hard allow infielders more lateral movement to make a play. Fittingly, a ball hit less hard is easier to field than a ball that is blistered.
  • Batters who are known to constantly “slap hit” will find the infielders “squeezing” her, playing shallower, giving her less open infield area to hit the ball.

On hard-hit ground balls in the infield, where is the biggest “hole,” the perfect spot where the ball cannot be played by the defense?
Between the first baseman and the second baseman?  No.
Between the shortstop and the third baseman?  No.

Where then?
Straight up the middle---between the shortstop and the second baseman. There is no defense for a ground ball hit hard straight away---and I’m including the pitcher. On hard-hit grounders up the middle, no pitcher who ever lived can be in a position to make such a play.

Think about it.

Unlike baseball pitchers, who deliver the ball from above, thus bending and assuming a fairly natural fielding position, the softball pitcher delivers the ball from below, forcing her body and momentum upward in a less natural fielding position. That move restricts and prevents her from making a transition in time to become a fielding threat on hard-hit ground balls.

So, in baseball, on a hard-hit ground ball in the infield, including the pitcher, there are five potential defensive players in position to make a play. In softball, on a hard-hit ground ball in the infield, there are four players in position to make a play. The pitcher is merely a spectator, if she is fortunate enough not to get hit by the ball.

On the flip side, on a poorly hit ball (slap-hit style), the pitcher now has time to become the fifth fielder in position to make a play. And---(this is the clincher), which fielder now has the most time to make the easiest play to first base? That’s right, the newly added fifth defensive fielder, the pitcher.

Brad Taylor
(281) 216-1048

To everyone who reads this issue, do not miss Issue # Eight. My next issue will allow Shelby County residents to learn something about baseball that has never been discussed since the first game ever played. When you begin # Eight, you may say to yourself, "this guy's crazy," but when you have completed it, your feelings should change to "why has baseball never known what I just read?" 

Great question----WHY?