Andrea Hawkins is a senior center fielder for Bay City (Texas) and Texas Impact Gold. She has signed to play at Alabama. She will blog for ESPNHS throughout the 2012 season.
Being versatile is a big plus in softball today. I am a slapper, and my objective is to put the ball in play. I start in the left-handed batter’s box, run toward the pitcher and make contact with the ball moving toward me. My goal is to hit the ball to the left side of the infield, utilize my speed to get on base and to put pressure on the defense.
Being able to read the defense allows me to determine if I am going to slap, bunt or swing away, and that keeps the defense guessing.
When I come up to bat, I usually show bunt the first pitch to see how the second baseman moves. I look to see how fast she gets to first base, or if she breaks early. The shortstop might even break to second base. If I see this, I know I can fake bunt, slap and get on first safely.
If I see the defense playing back close to the bases, I lay down a bunt and beat the throw to first base.
If the field is hard, I slap the ball into the ground to get a high bounce.
If the defense is playing in, I can pop it over the infielders' heads as a blooper shot.
A slapper's goal is to put the ball in play, get on base, then steal a base to get into scoring position and score on the next base hit.
When I come up to bat later in the game, the defense thinks I can't hit a long ball and they will be playing shallow. When you see this, feel free to swing away and drive the ball over their heads. They will not be expecting it. After they see you swing away, they will not know whether to play you shallow or deep.
All of this takes a lot of practice, a lot of discipline at the plate and getting to know how the defense works. But as you can tell, being a triple threat is a tremendous advantage. It keeps the defense guessing and increases your chances of getting on base.
Read the previous installment of Andrea’s blog -- on the importance of swagger -- here.