Back in January, we had 29 12U players show up for preseason evaluations. Coaches’ daughters did not evaluate because we wanted to limit the traffic on the very-soft-from-recent-rains infield. The average base running time from first to third that day was 7.4 seconds, with a standard deviation of about 0.5 seconds. The fastest time was 6.6 seconds and eight girls ran 7.0 seconds or faster. The slowest time was 8.1 seconds, but most times were centered around 7.6 seconds and 7 seconds, suggesting that there are generally faster girls and slower girls, but not much in between.
Now in the beginning of May, 23 12U players tried out for All-Stars. All players, including coaches’ daughters, had to try out. Though there were a few girls trying out who did not have a realistic chance to make the team and were there for the experience, I think we can generally assume that the group of players could be considered better players overall than the group of girls who evaluated in January. So, are “better” softball players generally “faster” softball players?
The average time for the All-Star tryout players running from first to third was 7.2 seconds with a standard deviation of about 0.6 seconds. The fastest time was a blistering 6.3 seconds and nine girls were faster than 7 seconds.
The table to the right summarizes the data above, and the graph compares the number of girls from evaluations and tryouts who ran slower than 8 seconds, between 8 and 7.5 seconds, between 7.5 and 7 seconds, and faster than 7 seconds. We can see that the biggest difference between the two groups of girls is that pre-season evaluations had a lot of girls run between 7.5 and 8 seconds, whereas All-Star tryouts had more girls in the faster categories. It *appears* that better players tend to be faster players, and indeed a Kruskall-Wallis non-parametric analysis proves that the two groups are not the same with 95% confidence.
However, before we jump to conclusions and only draft fast players no matter what, there may be some other explanations for why the All-Star group ran faster. First, the field was soft during evaluations in January, which could have slowed down average times compared to times run in May. Second, these were 11 and 12 year-old girls, and they may have grown and gotten bigger and stronger (and faster) over the 4 month span. Finally, with 4 months of softball practice and games, it is likely that all players’ base running technique got better over time.
Bottom line, I think I need to investigate further the correlation between base-running speed and overall player performance.