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Scorekeeping an Infield Hit

OK, you have gotten a comfy seat close to the action. The lineups have been entered into the score book and the umpire has shouted, “Play Ball!!” It is now time to earn your big bucks as a volunteer and score the game. There are a myriad of situations that the scorekeeper needs to understand and score correctly. This article will focus on how to score a ball hit in the infield.

Whether a base hit, an out, or an error, always record where the ball was hit in that tiny softball field in the batter’s score box. This way, when she comes up again the coach will know where the batter hit the ball previously so that he can adjust his defensive players accordingly– believe me, this is VITAL information on which I rely as coach. I recommend picking a color, like red or green, that will stand out even if the diamond is shaded in (indicating the runner scored). Just draw a line from home to where the ball was hit. When I keep score, I also put an “F”, “G”, or “L” by the end of the line to indicate whether it was a Fly ball, Ground ball, or Line drive. As scorekeeper, the more information you can give your coach, the better!

What is a base hit? Interestingly, the ASA Rule book has different sections describing what a base hit is (Rule 11, Section 2.B.3) and what a base hit is not (Rule 11, Section 3):
“Rule 11, Section 2.B.3: A base hit is a batted ball that permits the batter to reach base safely:

a. On a fair ball which settles to the ground, clears the fence or strikes the fence without being touched by a fielder.

b. On a fair ball which is hit with such force or such slowness or which takes such an unnatural bounce that it is impossible to field with ordinary effort in time to make an out.

c. When a fair ball which has not been touched by a fielder becomes dead because of touching the person or clothing of the umpire.

d. When a fielder unsuccessfully attempts to retire a previous runner and in the scorer's judgment, the batter-runner would not have been retired at first base by perfect fielding.”

“Rule 11, Section 3: A BASE HIT shall not be scored:

A. When a runner is forced out on a batted ball or would have been forced out except for a fielding error.

B. When a fielder fielding a batted ball retires the preceding runner with ordinary effort.

C. When a fielder fails in an attempt to retire a preceding runner and, in the scorer’s judgment, the batter-runner could have been retired at first base.

D. When a batter reaches first base safely as a result of a preceding runner being called out for interfering with a batted or thrown ball, or with a defensive player.”

Uh…OK. Basically, the scorekeeper judges whether the batter would have been out if there was nobody on base and the ball was fielded, thrown, and caught cleanly.

For example, the ball is hit to the third baseman. If she makes an error on the catch, then draw a line from home to first in the score book for the batter to show that she made it safely to first and write “E5” to the right of the line. Score the play the same way if the third baseman catches the ball and then makes an error on the throw (like throwing the ball in the dirt, or 10 feet over the first baseman’s head). If the throw was catchable, but the first baseman did not catch it, score it “E3”.

Now, imagine there is a runner on first, and the batter hits the ball to the third baseman. If she makes an error on the catch, draw the line for the batter from home to first and write “E5” to the right of the line. For the runner, draw a line from first base to second and put “AOE” above the line (AOE means “Advanced on Error”). If the third baseman instead catches the ball and throws it to second to try to get the out, she made the choice to not throw out the batter. The batter gets an “FC” (for “Fielder’s Choice) for her line from home to first no matter what the result was at the play at second. However, if the batter would have been safe anyway, she would get a base hit. I usually give the batter a base hit in such a case if she touches first base before the throw makes it to the other base. Otherwise, I will score it a Fielder's Choice (FC).

We will worry about how to score what happens to the runner, as well as determining the difference between an error and a hit, or a sacrifice and a hit in other articles. There is a lot to cover, so we are going to take baby steps until we get there.

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