Best Hitters First
In softball, as in baseball, the batters who hit higher in the order will get to the plate more often. Therefore, you can maximize your run potential by placing your best hitters atop the lineup. If you keep track of your players' on-base percentage, ordering your lineup by OBP ensures you'll get the most base runners possible. You can also craft your lineup using more traditional roles, starting off with one of your faster players, following that with a top contact hitter or two and then breaking out the power bats.
Many slow-pitch softball leagues limit the amount of home runs a team can hit without the at-bat being recorded as a single or an out. For leagues like that, it’s important to structure your lineup so that power hitters will come to the plate with as many players on base as possible. Instead of batting your best power hitters fourth and fifth, consider moving your second-best power bat further down in the lineup, where he's more likely to have runners on base. That way, you won’t waste a precious home run with the bases empty.
Know Your Rules
Different leagues regulate batting orders based on their own standards. In leagues where everyone bats, for instance, any late arrival generally has to be added to the end of the order. When only the 10 playing in the field can bat, substitutions must be managed carefully to avoid having a sub-optimal batting order. Create your initial batting order with potential substitutions in mind. For example, if your subs are both weaker hitters, don’t structure a lineup where they’ll be replacing a power hitter, or you may find yourself at a disadvantage late in the game.
Coed softball leagues present their own challenges. Leagues generally have rules that prevent segregating the genders in the lineup, so you can’t bunch all the men at one end of the lineup and all the women at the other. Beyond that restriction, however, the same general standards apply. Placing your best hitters atop the batting order, within the confines of those regulations, will help your coed team score the most runs possible.