Everyone can recite the criteria needed to build a good baseball lineup, but what about single-sex slowpitch softball lineups? What you are looking for in a softball lineup is very different than a baseball lineup.
In a traditional baseball lineup, the leadoff hitter is a guy with speed, who takes pitches and can get on base regularly and shake the pitcher. Typically, you have a contact guy batting second, trying to get the leadoff hitter into scoring position…and then the center of your order. You try to have the guys with the lowest batting averages in the lineup, so they hit the fewest times per game.
It’s pretty straightforward, and aside from Tony LaRussa in St Louis, all major league managers stick to 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 of winning so that when you check your league schedules on the online league management website, your team it will be floating near the top.
The first thing to understand is that, unlike baseball, in single-sex (not mixed) slow-pitch softball everyone generally has the same chance of getting a hit as a hitter. Even the worst guy on your team should be fit enough for his rhythm to meet the ball. Even if it’s a slow roller down the line, they should still be able to get a hit from time to time. (In traditional fastpitch baseball, these guys would be strikeout victims every time.)
You should also have guys on your team who seemingly get a hit every at-bat. These guys can shoot the ball up the middle with ease and grace, and their skills need to be used to the fullest. And if your team is even moderately good, you should have a couple of guys you can rely on in key situations.
So the first thing you need to do is write down the names of all your players, in no particular order. Next, what you need to do is put an asterisk next to each type that is like the first one described, the striker. Next, underline the guys who fit into the second bill, meaning those who routinely get on base. Lastly, circle the guys who have the power to hit the ball over the fence, or if your league doesn’t allow home runs, then circle the guys who can usually find a gap and can hit within the HR of the park. Not everyone on your team needs to have a brand.
If you end up with an equal number of each, you’re fine, if you have more of one than the other, that’s still fine. (However, if you have more than five asterisks, you may want to find another team to play.)
The next thing you’ll want to do is separate all the players with similar markings. In traditional fastpitch baseball, you want your two worst hitters to be at the bottom of the order, but that’s not the case in slowpitch softball. This doesn’t mean you should hit your less skilled players first or cleanup, but they shouldn’t always hit back-to-back. In softball, it’s all about getting guys on base and scoring runs. Consecutive lousy hitters will ruin any inning.
Now that you have all your players separated, you can start making your lineup.
The assumption, for the sake of this article, will be that he’s hitting 10 and has 2 with asterisks, 3 with HR power, 3 who consistently get hits, and 2 who have no designation. If the numbers on it vary, adjust this accordingly. Also, it doesn’t really matter which players you select, and in fact you can vary it on a game-by-game basis, it just matters that they fall into the category you assigned them.
The first thing you’ll want to do is spread out your power hitters. Unlike baseball, it’s actually detrimental to hit them consecutively. Grab your 3s with power and put them on holes 3, 5 and 7. This will break the power and give you a chance to hit one over the fence pretty much anywhere in your game. This will also keep them close enough that if one doesn’t jump the fence at just the right time, you’ll have another guy with power around the corner.
Second, take your two worst hitters, the ones with asterisks, and put them in the 8th and 10th spots. This puts them low enough that they don’t get as many at-bats as the top of the order, but don’t have them one side by side will stop the rally killers.
Then take an underlined name and put it at the top of the order and why not make it the fastest guy in your squad. They can finish second after an infield ground ball, which will help you later.
You should be left with 2 consistent hitters and 2 no tag hitters.
Put one of the consistent hitters in vacant spot 9. This way, he doesn’t have to go 1-2-3 when the bottom of his lineup should open an inning.
You should be left with holes 2, 4, and 6. As a confidence booster, you may want to put one of the non-designated guys in the 4 spot, just make it clear that they’re not there to hit HRs, as they’re told. assigned to past cleanup hitters. The boost in confidence can take your game to the next level and get you a base hit that you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.
2nd place must go to your last underlined player and the 6th hole can be filled by your last non-designated player.
Your lineup should now look like this:
1- Consistent hitter
2- Consistent hitter
3- Power hitter
4- Average hitter
5- Power hitter
6- Average hitter
7- Power hitter
8- Lowest skill hitter
9- Consistent hitter
10- Least Skilled Batsman
Looking at this, the weakest part of the lineup may be their 3-6 hitters, if their power guys aren’t also good hitters. If that’s the case, take your highest power guy, the one who hits a mile or not at all, and make him the seventh hitter.
Other than that one tweak, this should result in a winning lineup, and you should see your team at the top of the league standings the next time you check your online league management system.