PING – the Soft Toss Challenge
This works best for a full-team practice – anywhere from 12 to 18 players – divided into 2 teams (6 to 9 each). Bring the bags from second and third towards each other to create a narrow fair-ball ‘cone’ out to the left-centre power alley. You can adjust the bag-to-bag gap to suit the size of each team and their coverage range.
The two closest fielders must be inside the infield arc, another group of midfielders is halfway out, with deep outfielders near the warning track.
The team at bat advances and score ‘runners’ (imaginary) by hitting safely within the ‘cone’. The batter must be at the plate, but the soft-toss server can be placed anywhere that helps the batter hit towards the cone.
A coach should serve as umpire/scorekeeper – to call fair/foul hits, keep a mental record of the ‘runners’ on base, and those that ‘cross’ the plate to score. Here’s the scoring…
- STRIKE – any toss swung at and missed or any ground-ball that’s stopped cleanly (no errors) by the infielders. (Tosses not swung at don’t count – no balls, no walks.)
- OUT – any ball hit foul (outside the ‘cone’ – no matter how near or far), any pop-up that doesn’t get past the bags, any fly ball caught, or three strikes (of course). Three outs and the sides change.
- SINGLE – any hit (grounder or flyball) that bounces past the infielders and is stopped by midfielders. Previous ‘runners’ are advanced one base.
- DOUBLE – any hit that bounces between the midfielders and outfielders or is dropped by the midfielders. ‘Runners’ advance two.
- TRIPLE – any hit that gets by the far outfielders – in the air or on the ground. ‘Runners’ also advance three.
- HOME RUN – any grounder that hits the fence or any flyball that clears it (of course).
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