There are several things both the hitter and the runner must do, as well as some things they should never do. The hit and run play can be a serious momentum changer. Let's make sure it gives your team the momentum and not the opposition.
Starting at square one, it is the responsibility of the batter to swing at anything, no matter where the pitch is located. If possible, hit the ball to the opposite side, whether it's toward the second baseman if you are a right-handed hitter or toward the shortstop if you are a left-handed hitter. At the very least, you should try to hit the ball on the ground, because a line drive caught by an infielder will probably kill your inning.
To improve your chances of making contact, some batters swing with their hands only, take no stride and keep the swing extremely simple. (It's amazing how when some hitters do this, they actually hit the ball very well even though they are keeping it quite simple. There may be something to be learned by this. Sometimes less is indeed more.)
By far, the best count to hit and run on is 2-1. It used to be 2-0 or 3-1, which doesn't make any sense at all and has become obsolete. Why should a hitter have to swing at a 2-0 pitch if it is going to be ball three? Why should a hitter have to swing at a 3-1 pitch if it is going to be ball four?
The hit and run play should be strongly considered if there is one out and a weak hitter is on deck. The reason is that if the hitter gets a single and the runner advances from first to third base, the weaker hitter that follows does not have to get a hit to get the runner in from third base.
Responsibilities Of The Batter and the Runner:
1. First of all, the runner breaking from first base must be sure that the pitcher throws the pitch home.
2. The runner takes off for second base and either the shortstop or second baseman breaks to cover second base, thinking it's a stolen base attempt.
3. The runner should look toward the plate after a couple of steps. He should do this because it's very important that he knows whether the ball has been hit in the air, hit on the ground, swung at and missed, gets by the catcher, etc.
4. The batter must swing and try his best to make contact.
5. If the batter misses the pitch, the runner simply tries to steal second base. If the ball is grounded to an infielder or the pitcher, chances are there won't be a play at second base and the runner simply stays on second base. If it's a ground ball to an infielder, the runner has a chance to make second base safely or at the very least, a very good chance of breaking up the possible double play. If the ball goes through the infield for a hit, the runner can usually go to third base without hesitating.
6. The only time the runner needs the third base coach is if the ball is hit into right field because he can not turn around while running and to get a good view of the play as it unfolds.
7. The batter's objective is to simply meet the ball and hit it sharply on the ground. If he can "shoot the ball" through the vacated area left by the second baseman or shortstop who are covering second base, that's an added bonus.
Usually, it's better to hit and run with a right-handed batter at the plate. If a righty shoots the ball the other way with the second baseman covering second base, the runner can almost always go to third base because it's a longer throw to third base for the right fielder.
If a lefty shoots it the other way toward left center field with the shortstop covering second base, the runner probably can not go to third base because it's a very short throw for the left fielder to third base. The speed of the runner is very seldom a factor in determining whether or not to attempt the hit and run.
Something to consider before putting on the hit and run play is you should have a hitter up who is a contact hitter and very seldom swings and misses at pitches. Remember, you're looking for a well hit grounder so if the pitcher is one who throws high heat, you may not want to risk the hit and run against him.
The Best Possible Situation For A Successful Hit And Run:
If you have a contact hitter against a pitcher who strikes out very few batters and the pitcher is a low ball pitcher who gets a lot of ground balls. (You have three very positive things working in your favor.)
Your chance for success is very high in this ideal hit and run situation!
Larry Cicchiello is successful author of "Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away." His VERY user friendly eBooks and CD's cover 320 topics on playing very good baseball. ANY baseball player, coach or parent who wants to help their child will be fully equipped! Some FREE baseball tips on hitting and FREE baseball pitching tips are available at LarryBaseball.com
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