Success Rate Study

By Jim Brackin, Top of the Order Fastpitch


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As I watch high level college games on TV, such as Conference Championships, Regionals, Super Regionals, WCWS, US Olympic Softball games, etc, I record every ball hit fair, except for sacrifice bunts. I categorize as what kind of hit it was, and record whether it was successful or unsuccessful, not whether it was a base hit or not. An error is successful. I did this because the vast majority of errors happen in the process of trying to get outs while fielding ground balls. Not many errors are made on fly balls.

I recorded info for Short game, Hard hit balls, and balls that were not hard hit. I further qualified them as ground balls, high/low line drives, or fly balls.  Since I always tell people that the key to success is to “hit the ball hard somewhere”, I have summary totals for hard hit balls, and balls that were not hit hard.  Here are the 10 categories I came up with, and an explanation of how I define them.

Short game

 1  Slapper

  2  Bunt for a hit - (  I did not record sacrifice bunts)

Softly hit or medium hit

3   Popup – infield – or barely onto the green

4   Outfield fly ball – definite arc, it is well onto the green, and outfielders must come in or stay put to catch it.

5   Line drive – a dying quail.

6   Ground ball – wouldn't make it to the fence even if not fielded

Hard hit

7   Fly ball – deep outfield. Outfielders must go back after it, but it has a definite arc to it, enough that it could not be considered a line drive

8   Low line drive – low enough trajectory that an infielder could potentially make the play if it where hit directly at them. It could even bounce once before passing the infielder, and still be considered a line drive rather than a ground ball, If not fielded by an outfielder, it would definitely make it all the way to the fence.

9   High line drive - High enough trajectory that infielders could not possibly catch it, even if were hit right at them. It doesn't have a trajectory of more than about 30 degrees or so. I don't know how to express the exact trajectory, but like Justice Potter Stewart, "I know it when I see it". It could go over the fence, and still be considered a line drive rather than a fly ball.

10   Ground ball

     gets through the infield quickly. If not fielded by the outfielders, it would make it to, or almost to, the fence.


A couple of quick notes regarding the game we love so much:

Great hitters are capable of overcoming "failures", unsuccessful at-bats, and focus on the process necessary to give them the best chance of a successful outcome in their next at-bat. .300 hitters, by definition, fail to get a hit 7 times out of 10. .400 hitters only fail 6 times out of 10. Is this a great game, or what?

When looking at the results for the success rate of the short game, slapping, and bunt for a hit, consider this. At the major college, Olympic, and professional levels, there are not many slow players, with limited athletic ability, who play the short game. Those ladies can really motor down the line. They are marvelous athletes, who also have excellent bat control, great timing, spectacular tracking ability, etc.