How To Keep Score For Softball Games
A quick introduction to the art of softball scorekeeping
SportDoggy lets you keep detailed stats for your team. In order to save these stats, you must have a scorekeeper keep score for
your games. A baseball or softball scoresheet can look like Egyptian hieroglyphics at first, but once you learn the notation,
keeping score is easy and can be a lot of fun. This guide is written for slow-pitch softball leagues, so stealing bases, getting
hit by pitches, and other events are not discussed.
Before you get started, you will want to purchase a special notebook with pre-printed scoring boxes. They are available at most
sports stores, and will help you remember where things go. They also usually have reminders of how to score common events during
a game, as well as the player numbering system.
The basic layout of the scoresheet is this:
Player names are written in the Batter column, in the order that they will be batting. Many sheets have space for multiple
batters per row to allow for substitutions. Write one name per row of baseball diamonds. The diamonds are used to record
what each batter did for his plate appearance for each inning that he or she bats. Some scoresheets have extra notation to show you
where to record RBIs, outs, or balls and strikes, but some will just have the diamond.
The example here has a box for RBIs (labeled RBI), and boxes to check off balls and strikes. The bottom row of 3 boxes is for balls,
and the top row of 2 boxes is for strikes. Every time a ball or strike is called, you can put a mark in the appropriate box. This isn't
essential, and many scorekeepers don't make marks here. RBIs, on the other hand are important, and will be explained further down.
You will want to create a second sheet with the other team's lineup, so that you can record your team's fielding and
pitching stats, which you get by looking at what you recorded while the other team was batting.
Each diamond is where you write what each player did while batting for each inning that he or she bats. There is notation for if the batter gets out,
and notation for if they get a hit. Also, you will show how the players progress around the bases. Every time a player reaches a base, you draw a line
to that base, going around the diamond just as the player is doing in reality. Multiple players may be running the bases, so you may be
updating multiple squares at a time. If a player makes it all the way home, then you fill in the diamond to make it easier to count runs scores
at the end of the inning.
If there is a substitution in the middle of the game, where one batter takes the place of another, write the new batter's name in the row
underneath the replaced batter's name. You will also want to draw a vertical line on the scoresheet to indicate where the change occurred.
This will make sure you enter the correct stats for the correct batter after the game.
Every time a batter steps up to the plate, you write down everything that happens for both the batter and the players already on base. If players
advance to a new base, you update their square on the scoresheet. As for the batter, one of two things can happen: they can either
get on base, or they get out. This guide will show you what to write down in either
case, and then show some complete innings to show how multiple boxes get updated at once. First, let's look at the different ways a batter
can get on base.
When the Batter Gets On Basetop
Hopefully (for the batting team), one of the above plays doesn't happen, and the batter makes it on base. But how? There are lots of different ways
a batter can get on base. Let's take a look:
The most basic hit is where the batter runs safely to first. There were no errors on the play, and no attempts to get another runner out.
We note this with 1B, and we draw a line from home to first base on the diamond.
If the batter makes it to second without any errors or attempts to get another runner out, it's a double, and we write 2B. A line is drawn
from home to first, and then to second to show his progress. We write 2B on the second base line so that we know it was double in case we have
trouble reading our handwriting later.
If the batter makes it to second without any errors or attempts to get another runner out, it's a double, and we write 2B. A line is drawn
from home to first, then to second, and finally to third to show his progress.
In this example, someone else was on base and scored while the batter was running the bases, so the batter gets 1 RBI for his hit. If you
don't know when to score RBIs, we'll talk about them further down
If the batter makes it all the way home on his hit, then it's a home run, and we write HR on the third base line. There's always
at least one RBI on a home run (the batter gets credit for himself). There's also always a run scored.
If the pitcher pitches 4 (3 in some leagues) balls, then the batter gets to go to first base automatically. This is called a walk, and we record it
as a BB (B
ase on B
alls). We still draw the line from home to first to show his progress. If the bases are loaded, then someone scores on
the walk, and the batter gets an RBI.
These can be tricky to score. When a fielde's choice happens, we record it as FC, and draw a line from home to first as usual. A fielder's
choice happens when the fielders choose to attempt to get another runner on base out instead of the batter.
For example, say there's a runner on first and the batter hits a grounder to the shortstop. The shortstop can either throw to first base to
try to get the batter out (which would be a 6-3 out for the batter) or he can throw to second base to get the runner running from first base. If he
does this, and the batter makes it safely to first base, then it is a fielder's choice.
These can be judgment calls. If the batter would have beat the throw to first, and so the shortstop threw to second to make sure he got an out, then
it can be scored as a single, since the batter was never in danger of being out. As a scorer, you get to decide if the batter was ever in danger of
being thrown out. If he was, then it is a FC.
Also remember, that when throwing to second, the second baseman may drop the throw, allowing the runner to be safe. Even though there were no outs,
it is still a fielder's choice for the batter since the shortstop chose not to throw him out.
The out gets recorded in the baserunner's box, not the batter's.
Safe on Error
If a fielder commits an error that allows the batter to make it safely on base, then you draw the path appropriate for where the batter ended up, and
write E along with the position number for who committed the error.
In this case, the batter reached first base because of an error committed by the shortstop. We don't know what the error was; he may have let
an easy ball go by him, or he may have made a bad throw to first base. In any case, the scorer decided that it was the shortstop's error that
allowed the batter to reach base safely.
This is another area where you, as the scorer, have to make a judgment call. Most errors are dropped balls and bad throws, but not every dropped ball
or bad throw is an error. If the fielder ran a mile to get close to the ball and it bounces out of his glove, it is not an error, since the fielder
had to make a lot of effort to attempt the play. If a ground ball gets by the shortstop, it is an error if the ball is moving slowly, but if it the
ball has been hit hard, then the shortstop should not be expected to be able to make the play.
If the shortstop fields the ball cleanly, but the first baseman doesn't catch the throw, then it is an error. But whose? If it was wild throw
over the first baseman's head, or down in the dirt, then the error is charged to the shortstop for making a bad throw. If, however, it is a
good throw, then the error would be charged to the first baseman for dropping the ball.
After the batter reaches base, you update his progress around the bases as other batters hit. If he reaches home, you color in the diamond to make it
easy to count scored runs later. If a runner gets out running from one base to another, draw a line on the diamond halfway toward the base he was
running to, and cap the line off to show that he didn't make it all the way. Write down the fielding positions of who made the out, and then record
the out in the lower left corner.
In this example, the batter hit a single to first base and stopped. When a different batter was up, he tried to run to second, but the third baseman
threw to second base to get him out. This is recorded as a 5-4, and we write down the out number in the lower left corner.
This box shows a batter who ended up making it home after hitting a double. First, we record the 2B for his double. Two other runners on base scored,
so he earned two RBIs for the hit. When the next batter hit the ball, the third baseman tried to get this batter out, but committed an error, so we
write E5 along the base path to record the error. The following batter knocked this batter in, scoring a run (the colored diamond) and earning an RBI
for whoever was batting when he ran in.
It is important to record errors that happen when trying to get baserunners out, since that will be reflected in that fielder's fielding
RBI stands for Run Batted In. They are earned by the batter when a runner scores as a result of their at bat. If they hit a single and someone else scores,
the batter gets an RBI. If the bases are loaded and the batter gets walked, it's an RBI for the batter. Of course, nothing is that simple and there are
a few exceptions. It is NOT an RBI if any of the following happens:
- A fielder commits an error that allows a runner to score.
- The batter grounds into a double play.
When the Batter Gets Outtop
To record outs, you write down which position made the out. To keep things simple, each position is numbered from 1 to 10:
- First Base
- Second Base
- Third Base
- Left Field
- Left Center
- Right Center
- Right Field
This list corresponds to the picture on the left. Another way to place your outfielders is to have a rover or buckshort that plays shallow,
behind the shortstop, while your other outfielders play deeper. In this case, the rover is usually numbered 10.
Whenever an out is made, you write down the position number for everyone who touched the ball to generate the out. For example, if a ground
ball is hit to shortstop, and he throws to first base to force the batter out, then you would write down “6-3” in the square for
the batter, since the shortstop is number 6, and the first baseman is number 3. It is important to remember that the number corresponds to the
player, not the position. If the shortstop ran into the outfield to catch a ball, you would still write down 6 (for shortstop), not 7 (for the
Let's look at all the different ways a batter can be called out:
If a batter strikes out, either by swinging, or a called 3rd strike, you write a letter K in the batter's box.
Another way the batter can be out is if the ball is hit on the ground to someone and they throw to someone else to make the out.
In this case, the ball was hit to the shortstop, and he threw the ball to first baseman in time to get the batter out.
Since it was the second out of the inning, we wrote 2 in the lower left corner of the box and circled it.
If the ball is caught in the air before it hits the ground, then the batter is automatically out. To record this play, you write
the letter F followed by the position number of the player who caught it.
In this example, the left center fielder caught the ball (position 8), and since it was the second out, we wrote a 2 in the lower
left corner and circled it.
After a fly ball is caught, other runners have the option of running to the next base. If a runner scores after the fly ball is caught,
then it is called a sacrifice fly
, and you write down SF instead of F, along with the position number of the person who caught it.
In this case, the batter hit a ball that was caught by the right center fielder, and after the ball was caught, a runner scored, so we gave
the batter a sacrifice fly. It was the second out.
Sometimes the batter will hit the ball to someone on the ground, and they will get the batter out without throwing the ball to anyone.
This called an unassisted out, and is recorded as the position number for who made the out followed by the letter U.
In this case, the batter hit the ball to first baseman, who either tagged the batter out, or beat the runner to tag first base. In any
case the ball was not touched by anyone else, so it is an unassisted out. It was the first out.
If two people get out on the same play, it is called a double play. If this happens, you write DP, along with the position numbers for
everyone involved in the play. Note that a double play can only happen when there are 0 or 1 outs. The inning ends as soon as the
3rd out is made.
In this case, the batter hit a grounder to the shortstop, who threw the ball to the second baseman to get the person running from first to
second out. After this, the second baseman threw the ball to first base to get the batter out for the second out. We write down DP for the
double play, and 6-4-3 for all the people involved in the play. We would also write DP down in the box of the player running from first to second
to show that the player was out as a result of the double play.
Similar to a double play, if there are no outs in the inning, 3 people can be put out in the same play. If this happens, write TP in the box
for the batter, and the position numbers for everyone involved in making the out.
In this case, the batter hit a line drive to the second baseman, who caught it in the air for the first out. The runners on first and second
base were not expecting the catch, and started running as soon as the ball was hit. The second baseman threw to the shortstop to get the runner
at second base out. He then threw to first base to get the runner who should have stayed at first out. We write F4-6-3.
Since this was the third out, we write a 3 in the lower left corner, and we also draw a thick diagonal line so that next inning we remember
to move over a column.
Here are some example innings to show how scoring works over multiple batters.
The first batter hit a single (1B) to make it on base. We draw a line from home to first, and write 1B.
The next batter hit the ball to third base, but the third baseman committed an error, allowing the
batter to safely reach first base. We draw a line from home to first and write E5. The batter on first moves to
second base, so we draw a line in his box from first to second.
The next batter hits a single, so we draw a line from first to second and again write 1B in his box. The first batter
is able to run home on this hit, so we draw a line from second to home in his box and color it in. The batter gets an
RBI for this. The second batter was able to run to second.
The next two batters strike out, so we write K in their boxes, and write down the number of outs. No one can move on
a strikeout, so nothing changes in the other batters' boxes.
The last batter hits a fly ball to right center, where it is caught (F9). We write 3 for the third out and scribble a
line in the corner to indicate that the inning is over.
The first batter strikes out. We write K and 1 for the number of outs now.
The next batter hits a single, so we write 1B, and draw a line to first base.
The third batter hits a triple. We draw a line around the bases to 3rd base, and write 3rd base in the upper
left corner. This hit scores the second batter, so we write 1 RBI for the current batter, and draw the second batter
going around the bases to home and color in his diamond.
Batter 4 hits a single.
Batter 5 hits a grounder to the pitcher, who throws the ball to the second baseman to get batter 4 out. Batter 5
(the current batter) gets a fielder's choice, since the batter chose to get someone else instead. To show the out
we draw a line halfway between first and second in batter 4's box, with 1-4 written to show how the play was made.
We put the 2nd out in batter 4's box, since he was the one put out.
The last batter strikes out to end the inning.
The first batter strikes out. We write K and 1 for the number of outs.
The second batter hits a single.
Batter 3 hits a fly ball to left field, where it is caught for the second out. Batter 2 tried to tag up and run to second base
but was tagged out by the shortstop (7-6) for the third and final out.
The first batter hits a single. We draw a line from home to first.
The second batter hits a double to left field. The first batter makes it to third, and tries to run all the way home, but is tagged out
by the third baseman. The throw came from left field to the shortstop, who then threw to the third baseman for the out. We write everyone
involved in the play in batter 1's box: 7-6-5. Batter 2 still gets a double, because batter 1 only got out trying to gain an extra base.
Batter 2 safely hit a double and was not in danger of being thrown out.
Batter 3 gets on base because of an error committed by the shortstop.
Batter 4 hits a ball to the shortstop, who throws to the second baseman to get batter 3 out for the second out. Batter 4 gets a fielder's
choice, and we draw the out in batter 3's box. Meanwhile, batter 2 has run all the way home, giving batter 4 an RBI. Fielder's Choices
still give RBIs.
Batter 5 hits a double, and batter 6 grounds to shortstop to end the inning.
The first batter strikes out for the first out.
The second batter hits a single.
The third batter strikes out for the second out.
Batter 4 gets on base because of an error committed by the second baseman. Batter 2 advances to second base.
Batter 5 gets on base because of an error committed by the third baseman. Batter 4 advances to second base, and
Batter 2 makes it to third base.
With the bases loaded, Batter 6 hits a home run. Everyone scores, and Batter 6 gets 4 RBIs, since 4 people scored
on his at bat (himself and batters 2, 4, and 5). The end of the inning is not shown.
The first batter hits a double.
The second batter hits a fly ball to the right center fielder, who catches the ball for the first out. The first batter is able to tag up
after the ball is caught and run all the way home. This gives the second batter a sacrifice fly (since someone scored on his fly out), and
The third batter hits a triple.
The fourth batter takes a walk to make it to first base. We write BB.
The fifth batter hits a ground ball to the shortstop, who throws to the second baseman to get Batter 4 out, who
then throws to first base to get Batter 5 out. We write the
play in Batter 5's box: 6-4-3, along with DP to indicate the double play. We also write DP in
Batter 4's box to show that he was out as a result of the double play.
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