A softball team’s ability to move runners can determine its success, and a slap bunt is a great way to get ’em moving.
“We call it the short-game slap,” says Bonnie Tholl, associate head coach of the University of Michigan softball team. “If you get behind in the count and have two strikes against you, you can use it instead of just squaring around for a sacrifice bunt.”
Another great situation to use the slap is when the first and third basemen inch up in anticipation of a bunt. “Regardless of the count,” Tholl says, “slap the ball by them hard so it gets past their gloves quicker.”
Below are Tholl’s tips for executing the perfect slap.
Make sure you don’t overswing. Present the slap the same way you would a sacrifice bunt. As the pitch is released, draw your bat back to about 75 percent of your regular stance, and begin your swing from there. The goal is to put the ball on the ground and get runners into scoring position, not hit a line drive.
Keep your hands back in the slot—high and near the shoulder area. If your hands move down or forward, you’ll have difficulty hitting an inside pitch or producing enough power.
Choke up on the bat for more control. Most players choose to keep their hands together, but some separate them about an inch and a half for more barrel control.
If you’re a right-handed hitter, your foot placement should be the same as for a sacrifice bunt. If you’re a lefty, present in the same way as a sacrifice bunt, but then step back with your right foot and point your left foot and your hips toward the pitcher. Step through with the left foot and run through the batter’s box as you execute the slap.
For right- and left-handed hitters, remain completely closed to the plate from the hips up so you produce enough power to slap it through the hole.
Read the defense to determine what kind of slap to use. If the infield is sitting back, use a touch slap to drop the ball down short, and try to beat the throw to first. If the outfield is deep and the infield is right up in your face, use a power slap to drive the ball through the hole between two infielders.