Recreational Softball Leagues – Creating the perfect lineup

Recreational Softball Leagues – Creating the perfect lineup

Anyone can rattle off the criteria needed to build a good baseball lineup, but what about single-gender slow-pitch softball lineups? What you look for in a softball lineup is much different than what you look for in a baseball lineup.

In a traditional baseball lineup, your leadoff hitter is a guy with speed who takes pitches and can regularly get on base and shake the pitcher. You usually have a contact person batting second trying to get the leadoff hitter into scoring position…and then the meat of your order. You try to leave the guys with the lowest batting averages in the lineup so they hit the fewest times per game.

It’s pretty clear, and, aside from Tony LaRussa in St. Louis, all major league managers follow the same basic guidelines.

But slow pitch softball is different, and this article will help you create a lineup that will give you the best chance to win, so that when you check your league schedules on your online league management website, your team will be rolling near Upper part.

The first thing to understand is that, unlike baseball, in single-sex (non-college) slow-pitch softball, everyone usually has a chance to get a hit. Even the worst guy on your team should be capable enough to get his bat to meet the ball. Even if it’s a slow climb up the lane, every now and again they should be able to get a hit. (In traditional fastball, these guys would be hit victims every time).

You also have to have guys on your team who seemingly get hit every shot. These guys can smoke the ball in the middle with ease and grace and their skills should be used to the maximum. And if your team is even average, you need to have a few guys you can count on in key situations.

So, what you need to do first is write down the names of all your players, in no particular order. Next, what you need to do is place an asterisk next to each person who is like the first one described, the puncher. Then highlight the guys who fit the second bill, namely those who get on base regularly. Last you’ll want to fence guys who have the power to hit the ball over the fence, or if your league doesn’t allow home runs, then fence guys who can usually find a gap and can hit inside the park HRs. Not everyone on your team needs to have a mark.

If you end up with an equal number of each, you’re fine, if you have more of one than the other, you’re still fine. (However, if you have more than five asterisks, you may want to find another team to play on.)

The next thing you’ll want to do is break down all the marked players. In traditional fastpitch baseball, you want your two worst hitters in the bottom of the order, but not in slowpitch softball. This doesn’t mean you should beat your less skilled players at the start or the cleanup spot, but they shouldn’t always beat back to back. In softball, it’s all about getting guys on base and scoring runs. Back to back crappy hitters will ruin every inning.

Now that you have separated all your players, you can start making your lineup.

The assumption, for the purposes of this article, will be that you hit 10 and have 2 with asterisks, 3 with HR power, 3 that consistently get hit, and 2 that have no designation. If your numbers vary, adjust this accordingly. Also, it really doesn’t matter which players you pick and you can actually change it game by game, it’s just that they fall into the category you assign them.

The first thing you’ll want to do is space out your power shots. Unlike baseball, it’s actually detrimental to hit them consistently. Take your 3 with power and place them in the 3, 5 and 7 holes. This will break down power and give you the ability to hit one over the fence in almost every part of your game. This will also keep them close enough so that if someone doesn’t knock them over the fence on cue, you’ll have another guy with power right around the corner.

Second, take your two worst players, the ones with asterisks, and put them 8th and 10th. That puts them far enough away that they won’t get as many at-bats as the top of the order, but their lack of back-to-backs will stop any rally killers.

Then take a highlighted name and place it at the top of the line and, why not, make it the fastest person on your team. They may come second to grounding an internal field, which will help you later.

You should have 2 consecutive hitters and 2 unmarked.

Place one of the consecutive strikers in the vacant 9 spot. That way, you don’t have to go 1-2-3 when the bottom of your lineup has to lead off an inning.

You should have 2, 4 and 6 holes left. As a confidence booster, you might want to put one of the undrafted guys in the 4th spot, just make it clear that they aren’t there to hit HR like the pure hitters of the past were assigned to do. A boost in confidence can take their game to that next level and give them a major hit that they wouldn’t otherwise get.

The 2 spot should go to your last highlighted player and the 6 hole can be filled with your last undecided player.

Your composition should now look like this:
1- Constant blow
2- Constant blow
3- Strong blow
4- Average player
5- Strong blow
6- Average player
7- Strong blow
8- Lower Ability Strike
9- Constant blow
10- Lower Ability Strike

Looking at this, the weakest part of the lineup might be your 3-6 forwards if your power guys aren’t also good forwards. If that’s the case, take your strongest guy, the one who either hits a mile or not at all, and make him the 7th hitter.

Other than this one tweak, this should result in a winning lineup and you should see your team at the top of your league standings the next time you check your online league management system.

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