How to Get Hit By a Pitch in Softball
Not only are inside pitches often the hardest for slappers to hit, but they usually get dangerously close to actually hitting the batter. There are three general situations that result in a slapper getting hit by the pitch:
- New slappers often have the instinct to turn open when the pitch is approaching them, as they would when trying to avoid getting hit on the right side of the batter’s box. Doing this opens up the slapper’s chest to the pitch.
- Other slappers test the pitcher by setting up nearly on top of the inside line of the batter’s box. A pitch that screws in can easily hit the batter.
- The slapper intentionally tries to get by the pitch.
Regardless of which category you fall under, this softball guide offers a few tips on what to do when the pitch is coming at you.
Turn Your Back to the Pitch
Probably the most common mistake slappers make when facing an inside pitch is opening up their bodies towards the pitcher. Because so many slappers are originally right-handed, they have the movement ingrained in their muscle memory. However, on the left side of the batter’s box, this maneuver opens the batter’s stomach and chest to the pitch, which could result in being hit hard in an unprotected area.
Instead of opening up toward the pitcher, slappers need to turn towards the catcher, instead. This puts your back towards the ball; there are more muscles in the back than on the chest and stomach to offer protection. And while this will likely hurt, it will hurt less than getting the wind knocked out of you by taking a pitch to the chest. Moreover, if the pitch is low, turning your back to the pitch will make it so a pitch hits your hamstrings or calves. Again, this may hurt, but it will likely hurt a lot less than taking a pitch straight to the kneecap or shin.
Intentionally Walk into the Pitch
There is also the group of slappers who seem to dare the pitcher to throw an inside pitch. These slappers, armed with elbow guards, often opt to walk into the pitch. Per softball rules, if a batter makes no effort to get out of the way of the pitch, the batter will not be awarded the base. So, slappers will disguise their intention of walking into the pitch by giving the illusion that it’s part of their footwork: She’ll walk through the box and on the final step of her footwork, she will extend her front elbow at the pitch as she turns her back to the pitcher. This tactic works for two reasons:
- It makes it seem like she could not avoid getting hit by the pitch.
- It also looks like she tried getting out of the way
Most often, these slappers will be awarded first base. It is incredibly important to notice that these slappers wear elbow guards (made of hard plastic) to protect their elbows from the high-speed pitch. Without these elbow guards, this tactic is a dangerous move that may quickly result in broken bones.
Hot Tip: Practice with Lightweight Balls First!
If you use the strategy of intentionally walking into a pitch, or are attempting to learn it, use lightweight balls or whiffle balls first. Then move onto real pitches at half speed until you are comfortable with the movement. More importantly, never try this without wearing proper protection.
In order to try this maneuver safely, follow these steps:
- Go through your regular footwork. This is an advanced maneuver, so you should be an advanced slapper to try it. Your footwork should take you towards the plate. (For more information on this footwork, check out iSport’s guide, How to Slap Hit an Inside Pitch.)
- On your final step, extend your front elbow out towards the ball as you simultaneously turn your back to the pitch. Turning your back to the pitcher is key, because it makes you look like you are trying to get out of the way. If you do not turn your back, the umpire will likely deem it as intentional and you may not be awarded first base.
Right-handed Batters Turn toward the Catcher
If you are right-handed, or a switch-hitter, and find yourself needing to turn out of the way of an incoming pitch, turn your shoulders toward the catcher. This will help you avoid getting hit in the chest!
The single most important piece of advice to take from this guide is to always be protected. An elbow guard should be packed in your bag and secured around your right elbow every time you step up to the plate — whether you plan on getting hit by the pitch or not. Never try walking into a pitch unprotected or unprepared; this is a surefire way to get seriously injured. And remember, never open up to the pitch — a pitch to the chest can quickly knock you off your feet and take you out of the game.