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Softball Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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A

    Ace - A softball team’s best starting pitcher.

    Around the horn - The slang term used when the infielders throw the ball around the infield. The catcher usually starts with the ball, which is then thrown around the diamond.

    Assist - A throw or deflection of the ball from one player to another that either results in a putout or would have resulted in a putout if an error had not occurred.

    At bat - An appearance by a player in the batter’s box that does not result in a base on balls, sacrifice, hit batsman, or catcher’s interference.

    Away team - A team playing at the home field of  another team. The Away team bats in the top half of each inning, and plays defense in the bottom half.

B

    Backdoor - Refers to a pitch – often a slider or curveball – that appears to be outside the strike zone, but deceives the batter by breaking over the corner of the plate for a strike.

    Backdoor play - Otherwise known as a "pick-off," this is a defensive play made behind the runner, usually in an attempt to tag the runner out if she is taking a big lead-off.

    Backstop - The wall or screen behind home plate that stops wild pitches and passed balls, and keeps foul balls from reaching the stands. Backstop is also a slang term for a catcher.

    Ball - This is called when the batter takes a pitch that the home plate umpire deems to have crossed the plate outside the strike zone.

    Base - There are four bases on the field (first, second, third and home plate). They are placed 90 feet apart, and a player must touch each base in order to score a run. When a runner is touching a base, he cannot be tagged out.

    Base coach - When a team is at bat, it is permitted to assign coaches to both first and third base. The base coaches must remain next to the bases in foul territory, and may offer instruction to the base runners and the batter.

    Base on balls - Occurs when the pitchers throws four pitches outside the strike zone to the same batter before the batter puts the ball in play or strikes out. On a base on balls, the batter is awarded first base.

    Baseline - The base line is an area three feet to either side of the direct line that runs between the bases. Unless he must do so to avoid interfering with a fielder, a runner may not stray outside the baseline to avoid being tagged out.

    Basket catch - An unorthodox play that occurs when a defensive player catches a batted ball in the air, with her glove positioned at her waist and facing upward like a basket.

    Bat - The cylindrical piece of wood or aluminum with which the batter attempts to hit the pitched ball. The official rules state that a bat may not be longer than 34 inches, may not be wider than 2¼ inches at its widest point, and may not exceed more than 38 ounces.

    Batter - The offensive player who attempts to hit the pitched ball and reach base by some means.

    Batter’s box - Designated areas on both sides of home plate in which the batter must remain throughout her at-bat.

    Batting average - A traditional measure of an offensive player’s success. It is calculated by dividing total hits by total at-bats.

    Batting order - The predetermined order in which the offensive players for each team will bat. Substitutions are allowed, but the batting order may not change once a game has begun.

    Bleachers - Rows of metal or wooden stands on which fans sit at ballparks. The name comes from the fact that bleachers are traditionally uncovered, so fans would bleach in the sun.

    Breaking ball - Any pitch in which the pitcher manipulates the softball’s seams in order to make the ball curve when he throws it. The term typically refers to a curveball or a slider.

    Brushback - A pitch – usually a fastball – that nearly hits the batter and “brushes her back.”

    Bullpen - The area designated for pitchers to warm up before they enter the game. Relief pitchers often spend the game in the bullpen, which is usually located on either side of the field in foul territory or beyond the outfield fence. The origin of the term in a softball context is not universally known or agreed upon.

    Bunt - An offensive play in which the batter turns her body to face the pitcher and holds the bat out in front of her. The batter attempts to hit the pitch softly into the ground so that one of the infielders must run up and field it. The most common type of bunt is a sacrifice, which takes place with one or more runners on base. In this case, the batter bunts the ball so that the fielders only have time to record the out at first base, allowing the other runner(s) to advance.

C

    Can o' corn - A slang term for a routine fly ball anywhere on the field.

    Cannon - A slang term for a strong arm, generally on an outfielder or catcher.

    Catch - The act of a defensive player securing possession of a batted ball in her hand or glove while the ball is still in the air.

    Catcher - On defense, this player is positioned directly behind home plate and catches the pitched balls thrown by the pitcher. She wears protective gear and is the only player on the field permitted to use a more heavily padded glove.

    Catcher’s box - The designated area behind home plate in which the catcher must remain while he awaits each pitch.

    Catcher’s interference - A rare play that occurs when the batter’s bat makes contact with the catcher while attempting to hit a pitch. When this happens, the batter is awarded first base.

    Caught looking - A special way to strike out, this is a slang term used when the batter takes a called third strike and does not swing.

    Centerfield - A position on the field that generally encompasses the middle third of the outfield.

    Change-up - A pitch that is intentionally made to move slower than a fastball, but is delivered with the intention of deceiving the batter into thinking the pitch will be faster than it is. A pitcher usually achieves this effect by gripping the ball with an extra finger and/or deeper in her hand.

    Choke up - The act of a batter moving her hands slightly higher up on the handle of the bat. This allows her to control her swing better.

    Clean-up hitter - A term for the batter hitting fourth in the lineup. This refers to the frequent opportunities for the fourth batter to drive in runs when the players ahead of her reach base.

    Closer - A relief pitcher who is regularly used to get the final outs of a game.

    Coach’s box - The designated area in foul territory next to both first and third base in which each of the base coaches must remain during play.

    Complete game - A pitching statistic that occurs when one pitcher pitches an entire game.

    Corners - This is slang for the third and first baseman in the corners of the diamond.

    Count - A running total of the balls and strikes during each at-bat. For example, if a pitcher has thrown two strikes and one ball, the count would be 1 and 2 (with balls always listed first).

    Crow hop - In fast-pitch, when a pitcher pushes off the mound before the ball is released, the pitch is considered illegal. Evidence of a crow hop will be a discontinuous drag line: the first from when the pitcher leaves the mound at the beginning of the motion and the second from when she pushes off again to gain momentum for the pitch.

    Curveball - A common off-speed pitch in which the pitcher manipulates the seams and throws the softball with greater stress on her elbow and wrist in order to make the pitch break downward and to the side.

    Cut-off person - On most balls hit to the outfield, this is the infielder who presents herself as a target for the outfielder to throw the ball, usually in order to get the ball to the infield quickly.

    Cycle - Term for when a batter achieves a single, double, triple and home run in one game (in any order). Cycles are extremely uncommon at every level of softball.

D

    Dead ball - Refers to instances in which the ball is not in play, meaning no action can take place. There are several reasons for a dead ball, including a time-out call or a hit batsman.

    Defense - The team occupying each of the nine positions on the field that attempts to prevent the opposing team from scoring.

    Designated hitter (DH) - A player that does not play in the field, but occupies a spot in the batting order in place of a teammate who only plays in the field – usually the pitcher. The DH was not originally used in softball, but has become more common and is now utilized at many levels of the game.

    Diamond - Otherwise known as the playing field, this is common slang for a softball field.

    Dinger - A slang term for a home run.

    Double - A hit that enables the batter to reach second base safely without the aid of an error or fielder’s choice.

    Double play - A single defensive play in which two outs are recorded.

    Doubleheader - When a team plays two games in the same day. At the professional level, doubleheaders are rarely scheduled and usually only occur to make up for a game that was previously rained out or postponed. At lower levels of softball, they are fairly common in tournament play.

    Drag bunt - A bunt in which the batter intends to produce a base hit instead of a sacrifice. Typically the batter bunts the ball at the last second and tries to aim her bunt towards either the first or third base line.

    Drop ball - A technique used by the pitcher to produce top spin on the ball and cross the plate with a downward spin.

    Dugout - The enclosed areas on either side of the field designated for players on each team to occupy while not playing in the field.

E

    Earned run - A statistic that refers to any run that is not scored as a direct result of an error.

    Earned-run average (ERA) - A pitching statistic that measures the frequency with which a pitcher allows earned runs. It is defined as the ratio of a pitcher’s earned runs allowed to total innings pitched. ERA is presented as an average per nine innings.

    Error - A play in which a batter reaches base or a runner advances as the result of a defensive mistake. Players are changed with an error if the scorekeeper deems the play could have been made with routine effort.

    Extra innings - Occurs when a game is tied after the completion of the scheduled number of innings. Each extra inning operates under the same rules as the last inning until one team wins.

    Extra-base Hit - A hit that has the batter safely reach at least second base (i.e. double, triple or home run).

F

    Face Guard/Mask - A guard/mask often made of clear, hard plastic, worn by players to prevent their faces from getting injured during play.

    Fair ball - A batted ball that lands within the designated foul lines and is therefore live. If the ball is in front of the base, it must come to rest or be touched by a defensive player in order to be fair. If the ball is behind the base, it must only land inside the foul line or stay to the inside of the foul pole.

    Fair territory - The area of the field within the designated foul lines, which extend from home plate through first and third base, respectively.

    Fastball - The most common pitch in softball, and, for most pitchers, the easiest pitch to control. Of all the pitches in a pitcher’s repertoire, the fastball usually has the straightest trajectory and the highest velocity.

    Fielder - A player occupying one of the defensive positions on the field.

    Fielder’s choice - A play in which the batter reaches base as a result of the defense putting out, or attempting to put out, another base runner. The batter is not credited with a hit.

    Fielding percentage - A statistic that measures the frequency with which a defensive player successfully records assists and put-outs without making errors.

    Figure-four slide - This is the term used for the basic slide where one leg is bent at the knee and tucked under the other extended leg, behind the knee. This makes the lower body look like a "4."

    First base - The base located along the right side foul line, and the first one a batter touches when running (counterclockwise) around the bases. First base is also a defensive position, in which the first baseman plays at or near the base.

    Fly ball - A batted ball that goes in the air with an arching trajectory.

    Fly out - A fly ball that is caught by a defensive player for an out.

    Force out - By rule, a base runner must run to the next base if a ball is put in play that touches the ground and there is another player on the base directly behind her. A force out occurs under these circumstances when the defense fields the ball and touches the base before the base runner can reach it.

    Forfeit - There are several reasons why a team would forfeit a game, including not having enough players. The result of this is the forfeiting team loses without playing or completing the game.

    Foul ball - A batted ball that lands outside the designated foul lines. The defense can catch a foul ball in the air to record an out, but once the ball hits the ground in foul territory, it is dead. Foul balls count as a strike against the batter. However, a batter cannot strikeout on a foul ball.

    Foul line - The two lines that extend out from home plate through first and third base, respectively, all the way to the outfield fence. Foul lines separate fair and foul territory and are typically marked with chalk or paint.

    Foul pole - The foul pole is effectively the end of the foul line. Foul poles are positioned at the outfield fence and are used to determine whether a ball that travels over the fence was fair or foul. A fair home run must hit or be inside the foul pole when it goes over the fence. Fields without fences typically do not have foul poles.

    Foul territory - The area of the field outside the designated foul lines.

    Foul tip - This occurs when a batter makes only slight contact with a pitch and tips the ball directly from the bat into the catcher’s mitt. When the catcher catches a foul tip, it counts as a strike and the ball is in play.

    Frozen rope - Otherwise known as a line drive, this type of hit is solid and hard.

    Fungo - A bat that is lighter, thinner and considerably longer than a normal bat. Fungos are illegal to use during the game, but are commonly used in practice to hit ground balls and fly balls because they are easier to handle than regulation bats.

G

    Glove - A leather piece of equipment that players wear on their non-throwing hands to catch the ball while playing in the field. Different leagues and levels of play have different regulations on glove sizes.

    Going - Also known as "stealing," this is the slang term generally yelled from the dugout to tell the catcher that a runner is attempting to steal.

    Grand slam - A home run hit while runners are on each of the three bases.

    Ground ball - A batted ball that hits the ground and rolls before reaching a defensive player. When a ground ball is hit, the defense must tag or force out the batter in order to record a putout.

    Ground out - A ground ball that directly results in a putout.

    Ground-rule double - A batted ball on which the defense is unable to make a play because of a certain characteristic of the field or stadium. When this occurs, the play is ruled a double by the umpires. The most common occurrence of this is when a fly ball that lands in fair territory and bounces over the outfield fence.

H

    Hit - To make contact with a pitched ball. Statistically, a hit is the result of any batted ball in which the batter reaches base safely without the aid of an error or fielder’s choice.

    Hit by pitch - Occurs when a pitched ball strikes the batter on any part of her body or uniform while he is in the batter’s box. The batter is awarded first base.

    Hit-and-run - A strategic play in which the base runner(s) attempt to steal the next base when the pitcher pitches the ball and the batter swings at the pitch to try to put the ball in play. This play is attempted with the intent of catching the defensive players out of position trying to cover the bases so they are unable to make a play on a batted ball.

    Home plate - Wider and flatter than the other three bases, home plate is 17 inches wide and serves as the guideline for the width of the strike zone.

    Home run - A batted ball that lands in fair territory and results in the batter touching all four bases and scoring a run safely. Home runs typically occur when a batter hits the ball over the outfield fence. This is an automatic home run, and the batter may jog around the bases.

    Home team - The team playing a game on their home field. The home team is on defense in the top half of each inning, and bats in the bottom half.

    Hook slide - The type of slide that can be done at second, third, or home plate in an attempt to avoid being tagged out.  The runner starts the slide early and slides to the outside of the baseline, “hooking” onto to the far left corner of the bag.

    Hot corner - A slang term for the third-base position. The term refers to the fact that the third baseman often plays very close to the batter and must occasionally react to sharply hit balls.

    Hot corner - A slang term for the third-base position. The term refers to the fact that the third baseman often plays very close to the batter and must therefore occasionally react to sharply hit balls.

    Hot stick - This is slang for any batter who is on a hitting streak.

I

    In flight - The term used to describe a ball that has been hit, thrown, or pitched that is in motion and has yet to touch the ground.

    Infield - The area of the field contained within the baselines. On many fields, the majority of the infield is covered with grass.

    Infield fly - This is called by an umpire when there are runners on first and second base or the bases are loaded and there are less than two outs, and the batter hits a fly ball that stays inside the confines of the infield. When the call is made, the batter is automatically out and the base runners are free to advance, but face no risk of a force out regardless of whether the ball is caught.

    Infielder - A player whose defensive position is located on the infield. The term typically refers to first basemen, second basemen, third basemen and shortstops. However, the pitcher and catcher are considered infielders, as well.

    Inning - Timeframes used to break up a game. Depending on the level of play, games consist of a different, predetermined amount of innings. In each inning, both teams have a turn to play both offense and defense. Each half of the inning is completed when three outs are recorded.

    Intentional walk - Occurs when a pitcher intentionally throws four balls far outside the strike zone. This is usually done strategically when a base is open and/or when facing a particularly dangerous hitter.

    Interference - This is called when a batter or runner obstructs a defender from making a play on the ball (in which case, an out is called), or when a defensive player impedes a runner in the baseline (in which case, the runner is awarded the base).

J

    Junkball - A slang term for a pitcher who throws an unusually high number of breaking balls and off-speed pitches, typically because he does not throw particularly fast. Therefore “junk” refers to slow breaking balls and offspeed pitches.

K

    K - The official scorekeeping shorthand symbol for a strikeout. In the scorebook, a backwards K designates a strikeout looking.

    Knuckleball - A pitch in which the pitcher places her fingernails on the seams and uses her knuckles to push the ball out of her hand. Ideally, knuckleballs do not rotate during their flight and therefore have an unpredictable trajectory. The pitch is uncommon and very difficult to master.

L

    Lead - Refers to the practice of base runners standing several feet off the base they are occupying in order to increase their chances of getting to the next base safely (in some cases, by stealing a base). Leads are also short enough so that the runner to can get back to the base if the defense tries to tag her out.

    Lead-off hitter - The player hitting in the first position in the batting order. Also the batter who bats first at the start of each inning is considered to be “leading off” the inning.

    Left field - The area of the field that constitutes the left third of the outfield. It is also one of the nine defensive positions.

    Line drive - A batted ball that is hit sharply and travels on a line. Line drives often result in base hits, unless they are directly at a fielder, because there is little time for the defense to react.

    Lineup - Another term for the batting order.

    Loss - The end result for a team that scores fewer runs in a game than its opponent. A loss is also a pitching statistic. A pitcher get a loss if he allowed the runs that ultimately caused her team to lose the game.

M

    Married to the bag - A tendency for any defensive player to be more inclined to stay on the bag than to step off of it to catch a wild throw.

N

    No pitch - A no pitch occurs if a pitcher pitches: During a suspension of play (where the umpire calls ‘time’); before the batter is in position; when the batter in not ready; or when a runner is called out for leaving the base before the ball has been pitched.

    No-hitter - Occurs when a pitcher pitches a complete game without allowing a single hit. No-hitters occur very rarely and are considered a tremendous accomplishment.

O

    Obstruction - Similar to interference, obstruction occurs when a fielder impedes the progress of a base runner while not in possession of the ball or in the act of fielding the ball. When obstruction is called, the base runner is awarded the next base.

    Offense - The team that is batting and has its players takes turns hitting in order to score runs before its opponent records three outs.

    On deck - Refers to the batter who is next up in the batting order. The o-deck batter stands outside the dugout to prepare for her plate appearance.

    On-deck circle - The designated area – usually next to the dugout in foul territory – where the on-deck hitter stands while the batter in front of her is at bat.

    Opposite field - Refers the side of the field opposite of where a batter typically hits the ball. The right side of the field is the opposite field for right-handed hitters, and the left side of the field is the opposite field for left-handed hitters.

    Out - The call made by an umpire when an offensive player is retired via a strikeout, tag out, force out or catch. The defensive team must record three outs each half inning. Outs can occur via strikeout, when the defense catches a batted ball, or when a runner is tagged or forced out.

    Outfield - The area of the field beyond the infield. It is usually covered in grass, and encompasses the largest amount of space on the field.

    Outfielder - A defensive player whose position is either left, center or right field.

P

    Passed ball - A pitched ball that gets away from the catcher, allowing the runner(s) to advance to the next base. A Passed ball is ruled (as opposed to a wild pitch) when the scorekeeper deems that the catcher should have caught the ball with ordinary effort.

    Pepper - A popular game often enjoyed by players before the start of a softball game. Pepper is played with one person holding a bat, and two or more persons standing several feet away pitching her the softball. The batter attempts to continually hit ground balls back to the other players without swinging and missing or hitting a fly ball. The game is designed as a warm-up routine and helps sharpen fielding skills and hand-eye coordination.

    Perfect game - The term for when a pitcher retires every batter on the opposing team, not allowing a single base runner for the entire game. Even more uncommon than a no-hitter, perfect games are considered an outstanding achievement.

    Pickle - Another term for a rundown, a play in which a runner is caught between two bases and two or more fielders attempt to chase her down and tag her out.

    Pick-off - A play that takes place with one or more runners on base, usually in order to prevent the runners from attempting to steal the next base. While a runner has a lead and the pitcher is on the rubber, the pitcher quickly steps off and throws to the base. Pick-off attempts do not frequently result in outs, as runners typically lead off the base only far enough so that they can get back safely if necessary.

    Pinch hitter - A player who is not in the original batting order, but is substituted in to bat in the place of one of the starters after the game has begun.

    Pinch runner - A player who is not the original batting order, but is substituted in to run in the place of one of the starters after the game has begun.

    Pitch - The act of the pitcher throwing the ball towards home plate. Effectively, play cannot occur until the pitcher pitches the ball.

    Pitcher - The player whose position is at the center of the infield diamond on top of the pitcher’s mound. The pitcher instigates the action by pitching the ball towards the batter standing at home plate.

    Pitcher’s circle - A designated area around the pitcher’s rubber that is set apart by a chalk line measuring 8 feet in radius.

    Pitcher’s rubber - The white slab of rubber located at the center of the pitcher’s circle. The pitcher’s foot must be in contact with the rubber – either in the wind up or the set position – before she delivers each pitch.

    Pitchout - A strategic play in which the catcher stands up as the pitcher delivers the ball, and the pitcher intentionally throws a fastball high and outside. This play is executed when the defense believes a base runner with try to steal a base, and is designed to give the catcher a better chance to throw out the runner.

    Pull - Term for when a left-handed batter hits the ball to the right side of the field, or when a right-handed batter hits the ball to the left side of the field. Pull is also a term used to describe a coach removing a pitcher from the game in favor of a reliever.

    Push bunt - A bunt in which a hitter delays showing in an attempt to reach base safely. The ball is bunted in a direction to the opposite side as he bats from. i.e., left handed-hitters pushes down the third base line.

R

    Raspberry - This is a slang term for a common injury in softball. Often the result of sliding or diving, raspberries take the form of abrasions and bruises.

    Reached base on error - Any time a batter arrives safely on base as a result of an opponent’s fielding error (i.e. overthrowing the ball, dropping a fly ball, etc).

    Relief pitcher - A member of a team’s pitching staff who enters a game to replace another pitcher. Relief pitchers are typically used because of specific matchups or due to the starting pitcher’s fatigue or ineffectiveness.

    Rise ball - A technique used by the pitcher to produce a backward spin on the ball and cause it to rise when crossing the plate.

    Roster - A list of all the players on a team.

    Run - The means of scoring in softball. When a runner touches all three bases and home plate safely, it counts as a run. The team that scores the most runs wins the game.

    Run and slap - Term to describe a batter who from the left side of the plate slaps at the ball to get it into play on the ground. Also referred to as a "slapper."

    Run batted in (RBI) - A statistic that refers to any instance in which a batter directly causes another player to score a run by means of a hit, sacrifice or base on balls.

    Run rule - Also called international run rule, run difference rule, and mercy rule; if one team is losing by 20 runs after three innings, 15 runs after four innings, or seven runs after five innings the game is ended at that point.

    Rundown - Occurs when a runner is caught between two bases and two or more fielders attempt to chase her down and tag her out. (See pickle).

S

    Sacrifice Bunt - A bunt in which a hitter intentionally gives herself up at the plate in order to advance a runner into scoring position. Under normal conditions, if the runner is on first you are trying to advance, bunt to the first base side unless special defenses dictate otherwise. If the runners occupy second, or first and second, you should bunt to the third base side, attempting to make the third baseman field it. Unless special defenses dictate otherwise, this is accepted as a standard.

    Sacrifice fly - Occurs when a runner is on third base with less than two outs. The batter hits a fly ball or line drive deep enough so that the runner on third base can tag up and score a run once the catch is made. The batter is credited with a run batted in.

    Safe - The call made by an umpire when an offensive player reaches a base safely without being tagged or forced out.

    Safety base - Sometimes used at first base in order to prevent collisions between runners and the first baseman, the safety base is the size of two regular-sized bases. Half of the base is in fair territory and is painted white, and the other half is in foul territory and is usually painted orange. When a safety base is used, the runner must run through the half of the base that is in foul territory.

    Save - A statistic achieved by pitchers who record the final outs of a game. A pitcher is credited with a save if he pitches three or more innings to finish a game, or if he finishes a game in which her team leads by three runs or less, or if he finishes a game in which he entered the game with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck.

    Scoring position - Runners are considered to be in scoring position if they are on second or third base. The term is used because runners will typically be able to score a run from second or third base if the batter produces a base hit.

    Screw ball - A pitch that curves in on a right-handed batter and away to a left-handed batter.

    Second base - Second base is positioned along a direct, imaginary line with home plate and the pitcher’s rubber. It is also one of the nine defensive positions on the field, and fielders who play the second base position typically play midway between first base and second base.

    Shoestring catch - This is slang for a running catch, usually made by an outfielder, where the ball is caught just inches above the player's shoestrings.

    Shoot a pair - This is slang for turning a double play, generally when there is a runner on first base and the batter is bunting.

    Showboating - A slang term for when a player tries to attract attention by doing something flashy, often showing ostentatious behavior. Showboating is often done at the plate, by a player who hits a homerun.

    Shutout - The term for a game in which one team prevents its opponent from scoring a single run.

    Single - The term for a hit in which the batter reaches first base safely without the aid of an error or fielder’s choice.

    Slap hitting -  When a left-handed batter runs through the batter’s box towards the pitch while attempting to make contact. This is often referred to as “slapping”.

    Slapper - This is the slang term for a left-handed batter who runs through the batter's box towards the pitch while attempting to make contact. This batter "slap hits."

    Slide - When a runner approaches a base, he will often slide either head-first or feet-first to avoid being tagged by a fielder and avoid running past the base.

    Slugging percentage - A batting statistic; the total number of bases reached by safe hits, divided by the total times at bat (or total at-bats).

    Slump - Term for when a hitter produces no or few hits during an extended period of time.

    Snow cone catch - Often considered a lucky catch, this slang term is used to describe a catch made in the tip of the fielder's glove, making it look like a snow cone.

    Southpaw - A slang term for a left-handed pitcher. It is generally agreed upon that the term originated in the early days of softball, when stadiums were built with home plate pointing west, first base pointing south, second base pointing east, and third base pointing north. The reason for this design was, during games played in the afternoon and evening, the sun would set behind home plate, keeping it out of the batters’ eyes, as well as those of the fans sitting behind home plate. As such, when a left-handed pitcher stands on the mound, her left arm (and paw) is facing south, towards first base.

    Squeeze bunt - A bunt that is used as an offensive weapon to score a run. The runner on third breaks to steal home as soon as the pitcher releases the ball from their hand. The hitter has a responsibility of getting the ball on the ground, regardless of where it is pitched or the runner will be tagged out easily.

    Starter - A player who is in the starting lineup at the beginning of a game. Starter is also used specifically to refer to a team’s starting pitcher.

    Stinger - Often felt in the hands of a batter, this is a slang term to describe a hit that's made at the end of the bat. This causes the bat to vibrate and sting in the batter's hands.

    Stolen base - The act of a runner advancing safely from one base to the next, before or while the pitcher delivers a pitch.

    Strike - This is called when a batter swings and misses at a pitch, or when a batter takes a pitch that the home plate umpire deems to have crossed the plate within the strike zone. After three strikes in a single plate appearance, the batter is called out. Foul balls also count as strikes, although a batter cannot strike out on a foul ball.

    Strike zone - By rule, the strike zone spans the width of home plate and extends from the batter’s knees to the bottom of her shoulders. The home plate umpire stands behind the catcher and rules whether each pitch is in the strike zone. As such, the strike zone tends to be somewhat subjective.

    Strikeout - This occurs when a batter has three strikes in a single plate appearance. The third strike must be either a called strike, a swing-and-miss or a foul tip.

    Suicide squeeze - A squeeze play (see above) in which the runner on third base runs toward home plate as the pitcher delivers the pitch. The suicide squeeze is rare, and is so named because, if the batter is unable to bunt the ball, the runner that was on third base is likely to be caught in the baseline and tagged out.

    Switch hitter - Term for a batter that is able to hit both right handed and left handed. Typically, a switch hitter will bat left handed when facing a right-handed pitcher, and right handed when facing a left-handed pitcher.

T

    Tag - The act of a defensive player touching a runner with the ball or with her glove while in possession of the ball.

    Tag up - Base runners are not allowed to safely advance on a batted ball until the ball touches the ground or is caught by a fielder. A runner tags up when he waits for a fielder to catch a fly ball before attempting to advance to the next base.

    Take - Term for when a batter does not swing at a pitched ball.

    Team - A group of players. In softball, teams must consist of at least nine players.

    The Black - A term used to describe the thin strip of black leather that runs along the circumference of home plate. A pitch that barely hits the edge of the strike zone is said to be “on the black.”

    Third base - The base located along the left side foul line, and the third one a batter touches when running counterclockwise around the bases. Third base is also a defensive position, in which the third baseman plays near the base.

    Triple - A hit in which the batter is able to reach third base safely without the aid of an error or fielder’s choice.

    Triple play - A single defensive play in which three outs are recorded. Triple plays are very rare.

U

    Umpire - The official of a softball game. In most cases, multiple umpires are assigned to a game depending on the level of play. The umpire’s job is to rule on balls and strikes, force outs, tag plays and fair/foul balls.

    Unearned run - A run that occurs as the result of a defensive error.

    Up the alley - A slang term used for any hard hit that goes up the middle of the field, between the second baseman and the shortstop.

    Up the middle - The area in between the shortstop and second-base player.

    Utility player - A player that may appear at more than one fielding position or strictly as a designated hitter.

W

    Walk - Another term for a base on balls. It occurs after four balls are thrown in a single plate appearance.

    Walk-off - Term to describe a run-scoring play that ends a game. Walk-offs occur when the home team scores to take the lead in the bottom of the last inning, ending the game, and leaving its opponent to “walk off” the field.

    Warning track - The dirt strip that runs along the length of the outfield fence beyond the outfield grass and in front of the home run fence. Warning tracks are used to let an outfielder tracking a fly ball know when he is approaching the fence.

    Wild pitch - A pitched ball that gets away from the catcher, allowing the runner(s) to advance a base. A wild pitch is ruled (as opposed to a passed ball) when the scorekeeper deems that the catcher could not have caught the ball with ordinary effort.

    Win - To be victorious in a game by scoring more runs than the other team in the designated number of innings. A win is also a pitching statistic. A pitcher earns a win if he is the pitcher of record when the game becomes official and her team takes a lead that ultimately leads to a victory.

    Windmill - This term is used to describe the pitcher's motion in softball. Softball is unique because pitchers throw underhand. In order for a pitch to be legal, a pitcher must complete a full windmill by throwing her arm backwards and releasing the ball below her hip.

Check out this Softball glossary to find the sport-specific definitions for which you have been looking. From A to Z, we've got all the words covered.
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