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Fan's Guide to Softball Rules and Basics Page 4 of 4 (Glossary)

Softball player 1- History & Object
2- The Essentials (Offense & Defense, Scoring, Etc.)
3- Field Diagram and Positions
4- Glossary of Softball Terms


At-bat: A player’s turn batting while her team is on offense.

Ball: Pitch that travels outside the strike zone that the hitter does not swing at. Four balls result in a walk.

Bunt: A soft hit produced by holding the bat in a stationary position over home plate. Often used to advance a base runner.

Count: Term used to describe a batter’s balls and strikes during an at-bat. The number of balls is first, followed by the number of strikes. “Three and two” is three balls and two strikes.

Double play: A play in which the defense records two outs.

Error: Charged to a defensive player for mistakes that should have resulted in an out.

Fair: A ball that, when hit, lands between the two foul lines and stays in bounds past first or third base. A home run is also a fair ball.

Fly ball: Ball hit with a high, arcing trajectory.

Fly-out: If a ball is caught by one of the nine fielders before it bounces, the batter is out. Base runners must tag-up during a fly-out.

Force out: After a batter hits the ball, she must advance to 1st base. The defense can get her out by throwing the fielded ball to 1st base before the runner reaches the base. Additionally, other base runners must advance if they are forced by a base runner behind them.

Foul: Ball hit outside the two foul lines. Results in a strike. When a batter hits a foul ball with two strikes, the count remains the same and at bat continues, because a foul cannot cause a strikeout. A “foul tip” is a foul ball hit directly behind the batter.

Ground ball: Ball hit with a low trajectory that bounces on the ground in the infield.

Ground-rule double: A ball that bounces in fair territory and travels over the outfield fence. The batter is awarded 2nd base, and all other runners on base advance two bases.

Hit: A batted ball that allows a batter to safely reach base. A single (advances to 1st base), double (advances to 2nd base), triple (advances to 3rd base), and home run are all types of hits. A ball’s trajectory is usually a ground ball, linedrive, or fly ball.

Hit and run: Base runner advances to the next base when the pitch is released, knowing that the batter is swinging at the pitch.

Home run: Fair ball hit over the outfield fence between the two foul poles. Batter and any runners on base are awarded home plate and each scores a run.

Line drive: Ball hit with a trajectory almost parallel to the ground.

Out: The defense must create three “outs,” by strikeout, force-out, fly-out, or tag-out, before it can switch to offense.

Run: Scored when an offensive player safely tags home plate.

Sacrifice: A batter strategically hits the ball into an out situation to advance or score a runner. Usually a “sacrifice bunt” or “sacrifice fly.”

Safe: Called when a base runner reaches a base without getting tagged out or avoids a force out.

Stolen base: A play during which a runner advances a base when the pitcher releases the pitch.

Strike: A ball that a batter swings at and misses, hits foul, or fails to swing at that crosses the strike zone. A batter strikes out after three strikes.

Strike out: Occurs during an at-bat when a batter accumulates three strikes, at which point the at-bat ends and the player is called out.

Strike zone: The area above home plate between a batter’s knees and her armpits.

Tag out: A base runner that is not on a base when she is tagged by a player with the ball is out.

Tag up: A player waits for a fly ball to be caught before advancing to the next base or else the defense can throw the ball to the base that the runner was on before she can return to it and record another out.

Triple play: A play during which the defense records three outs.

Walk: Four balls from a pitcher results in the batter receiving a “walk,” and the batter automatically advances to 1st base. Players on successive bases who are “forced” to advance may move to the next base. Also called “base on balls.”


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