Determining the Best Batting Lineup for Co-Ed Softball
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The strategies for softball are often copied wholesale from baseball. The same principles that make for a competitive baseball lineup, however, usually doesn’t work the same way for co-ed softball. The key to constructing an effective batting lineup for a co-ed softball team is to carefully assess the skills and talents of the team’s members, and ensure that the lineup is in full compliance with league rules.
Review your league’s rules. Many co-ed softball leagues require that a team organize its lineup around alternating genders. This means that your team’s lineup must go woman-man-woman-man, or man-woman-man-woman, and the only doubling up allowed must come at the end of the lineup. Many leagues field 10-player teams and require you to field a minimum of four female players throughout the game.
Categorize your team into two sections: contact hitters and power hitters. Always have a contact hitter bat first, then slot a power hitter in the next spot, alternating genders. To make it easy, contact hitters should appear in odd-number slots in the batting order, while power hitters should appear in even-number slots. Softball is a little different from baseball, in that the short distance between the bases coupled with the addition of a fourth outfielder require a greater emphasis on “small ball.” That means the contact hitter gets on base, the power hitter tries to pull at least a double to send the contact hitter to third or home, and a lineup that cycles in such a way can minimize flyball outs and rack up runs.
Slot your best, most accurate contact hitter at the top of the lineup, to be followed by the hitter who can best direct the ball to the left or right corner with power. This tandem will get the most at-bats in the course of game, giving you the best statistical chance of high-offensive production. Take the next best contact and power hitters and slot them into the third and fourth lineup spots, and continue working your way down the lineup in similar fashion.
Coach your power hitters to swing for doubles and triples, rather than home runs. Many softball leagues penalize power hitters by allowing them only one per game. After the first home run, any subsequent home runs are called as flyouts.
Assess your right-handed and left-handed hitters, and if possible, stack the top of your lineup with left-handers. Still keep your staggered contact/power order, but if you happen to have a close-to-even split of right- and left-handed hitters, try to stagger them if possible.
- Softball: Steps to Success; Diane L. Potter, Lynn V. Johnson
- Walter Arce/iStock/Getty Images