The smell of hot dogs, caramel corn and fresh green grass linger in the air. The ting of aluminum bats and the sound of balls smashing into thick, leather gloves. With sunflower seeds and sports pass in hand, you walk up the stairs to Miller Park. But you are only missing one thing — and that’s a field guide to the game. Here are the basic terms of softball.
Average – There is one basic average every softball fan should know about — the batting average. Each batter has a batting average which is calculated by dividing their number of hits by their number of at-bats. Hitting over .250 would mean the batter gets one hit out of every four at-bats.
Base hit – This is when a player hits the ball and is able to make it to first, second or third base on a cleanly fielded ball.
[pullquote]Home Run- Babe Ruth would tell you this is anytime a batter hits the ball over the stadium fence, in fair territory.[/pullquote]
Change up – This is a pitch that appears to be going faster than it really is and forces batters to swing way ahead of the pitch. It’s an important pitch for any pitcher to have in their arsenal.
Double Play – A double play is when the defense gets two base runners out in one play. It doesn’t happen too often in softball because of the proximity of the bases, but when it does, it can be one exciting event to see.
Extra Innings – When a game gets to the end and is tied, the game will then go into extra innings until an inning ends with one team ahead.
Foul Pole – Ever seen the tall yellow foul poles on a baseball field? Well, softball fields have them too and they are important to the game. All balls must be hit inside or directly onto these poles to be considered in play.
Grand Slam – When there is a runner on every base and the batter hits a home run.
Home Run – Babe Ruth would tell you that this is anytime a batter hits the ball over the stadium fence, in fair territory.
Innings – There are seven innings in a college softball game. The visiting team bats first in each inning.
Jogging – Only those who hit home runs are afforded the luxury of “jogging” around the bases. All others must sprint.
K – This is the symbol used to represent a strikeout, which is anytime the pitcher throws three strikes that are either called or swung at without being hit. Each strikeout counts as an out.
Lineup – There must be nine players on the field to play the game.
Mitt – The first baseman and catcher are the only position players that wear mitts instead of gloves. Mitts do not have individual fingers and provide more padding to the players.
No-Hitter – This is the term used to describe a game where the pitcher throws the whole game without allowing a single base hit from the opposing team.
Outs – It takes three outs to end an inning.
Positions – There are nine positions on the field. These include catcher, pitcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, left fielder, center fielder and right fielder.
Runs – In softball, there are no points. Anytime someone makes it back to home plate after hitting, they score a run for the team.
Slap – The slap hit is employed by quick, left-handed batters. It is meant to be a ground ball that is hit with a short, chopping motion.
Tagging up – Anytime a player is on base and a batter hits a fly ball, runners must stay on the base until the ball is caught. After the ball is caught, runners can “tag up” and attempt to advance to the next base, potentially giving their teammate a sacrifice fly.
Utility Player – A utility player is a player who can play multiple positions or who is designated to hit for one player on the lineup.
Velocity – Both velocity and accuracy are important to every pitcher. Most college pitchers can pitch anywhere from 50-70 miles per hour, depending on the pitch. These pitches are the equivalent to a baseball traveling at 72-100 mph.
Walk – For a walk to be issued to a batter, the pitcher must throw four balls. After four balls are called, batters get a “free” walk to first base. Balls are determined by an umpire, who calls the pitches based on a batter’s strike zone.
X – X’s are placed on the scoreboard anytime a team does not score a run that inning.
Yellow – Differing from the normal white seen in baseball, softballs are neon yellow in color.
Zero – When a pitcher (or pitchers) holds the opposing team to zero runs in a game, this is called a shutout.
So there you have it! With your guide in hand, you can now proceed into the park with all you need to know about softball.