Softball is a game that may seem overwhelming at first glance but is quite simple and easy to grasp once you understand its nuances. One of the most baffling aspects for newcomers is deciphering the softball boxscore, filled with a myriad of abbreviations and acronyms.
Among these, the term “PO” often confuses. This term, standing for “Put Out”, is a key indicator of a player’s performance in this fast-paced, exciting sport. It requires quick reflexes, coordination, and strategic thinking. Whether you’re a seasoned player, a curious fan, or a coach aiming to enhance your team’s performance, understanding the concept of “Put Out” is crucial.
It offers insights into the defensive aspects of the game and areas that could be improved. So, let’s dive into the world of softball statistics and unravel the mystery of “PO”.
What Does PO Mean In Softball Stats?
What Is A Putout In Softball?
In softball, a Putout (PO) is credited to a fielder under several scenarios. These scenarios involve the fielder putting out a batter or baserunner while securely possessing the ball. The player must be the first one to make contact with the ball. There are several common ways to achieve a putout, which we will discuss further.
Examples of Put Outs:
To better understand the concept of Put Out, let’s consider a few examples. Imagine a batter hits a ground ball to the shortstop, who fields it and throws it to the first baseman. If the first baseman steps on first base before the runner reaches it, this is recorded as a put-out for the first baseman. Similarly, if a batter strikes out at the plate and the catcher doesn’t drop the third strike ball, this is recorded as a put-out for the catcher. Lastly, if a batter hits a fly ball into the right field and the right fielder catches it, this is recorded as a putout for the right fielder.
One of the most common putout scenarios involves infield ground balls. This unique and interesting putout play, known as a force play, involves several moves by multiple infield players. It occurs when a fielder catches a batted ball while having a foot on the base where the batter or runner is compelled to move to. In this case, the putout is credited not to the fielder who initially caught the ball but to the player that tags the base.
In some instances, the batter or a baserunner is not forced to run on a ball but attempts to get to the next base. In such a case, to achieve a putout, the defensive player must tag the runner instead of tagging the base. The player that tags out the runner is credited with a putout. This tagout putout can also occur without the batted ball, as the fielder can tag the runner while trying to steal the base or during an attempted pick-off.
A putout scenario also arises when a batter misses the pitch on the third and final strike. Contrary to popular belief, in this case, the putout is credited to the catcher, not the pitcher, as it is essentially their last catch.
Catching A Flyout:
At times, a batter will hit the ball in such a way that it becomes airborne. If a defensive player catches it before it hits the ground, the batter is out through a flyout, and the fielder who caught the ball is credited with a putout. Flyouts can occur anywhere on the field, even in the foul area.
Interference play putout occurs when the team that’s at-bat commits an offensive interference, meaning the batting team is obstructing the play by blocking the defensive player. In such a case, the runner that is blocking will be called out, and the nearest fielder will get credited with a putout. If a fan interferes with the play by reaching over the fence and touching the ball either on the ground or in the air, the fielder that was going after the ball and trying to catch it records a putout.
An appeal play putout happens when the defensive team draws the umpire’s attention to a rule violation. If a player catches a ball or tags the base on an appeal play, that player is credited with a putout.
Positions that record the most put-outs:
While there’s no official data to back this up, it’s generally observed that most putouts occur at first base in an average softball game. This is primarily due to most ground balls in the infield requiring a throw to first base, except for force-out plays that end innings. Therefore, players at first base tend to have more put-outs than other positions. Another position that records a high number of putouts is the catcher, mainly due to the number of strikeouts that can occur in an average game of softball.
More complicated Put-Out rules:
While we’ve discussed the more common ways a putout occurs, some more complicated scenarios occur less frequently. For instance, a hitter may swing and miss resulting in a 3rd strike, but the catcher drops the ball, allowing the runner to attempt to reach first base. If the catcher throws the player out at first base on time, the putout is recorded for the first baseman, not the catcher. Additionally, if a runner is penalized for interference or obstruction, the put-out is recorded for the player closest to the runner at the time they were penalized.
Importance of Putout in Assessing Player & Team Defense:
In softball, a Put Out (PO) is a defensive statistic that measures the number of times a player records an out. This could be by catching a fly ball, catching a third strike, touching a base, or tagging a runner with the ball before the runner reaches the base. This statistic is used to assess a team’s defensive strength, reflecting the number of times the team was able to make an out and prevent the opposing team from scoring.
Consider a scenario where a team is leading by one run in the bottom of the 7th inning, with two outs and a runner on third base. If the defensive team can make a putout to end the inning, they win the game. However, if they fail to make the out, the game continues as the runner scores from third base, or the game could end if additional runs are scored. In a regulation game of 7 innings, a team will record 21 putouts. Therefore, the number of putouts can be a measure of a team’s defensive strength.
When evaluating individual defensive performance, putouts can be a useful metric. For instance, a pitcher who induces a lot of ground balls will lead to a higher number of putouts recorded by the first baseman and other infield positions. Similarly, a catcher who records a high number of putouts is likely on the receiving end of many strikeouts, indicating good framing or game-calling skills.
Best way to use Putouts:
Putouts are best used in conjunction with other statistics to gain a more complete understanding of a player’s defensive ability. For example, a player that records a high number of putouts, combined with a low number of errors, is likely to be considered a strong defensive player. Coaches and players can use Put Outs in combination with other statistics to identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to strengthen their defense.
Softball Putout Records:
For those who love softball statistics, there are some interesting records related to putouts. The most putouts in a single softball game were 35, recorded by Laura Myers of Cal Poly Pomona on May 24th, 1984. The game took 25 innings to complete! For a 7-inning game, the record stands at 21, shared by Stephanie Pinter (Notre Dame) on April 25th, 1992 and Lidia Stiglich of California on March 22nd, 1991.
Most Putouts in a game:
In a full season, the record for putouts is shared by two women with an amazing 765 putouts: Kelsey Hoffman of Virginia Tech in the 2008 season and Kenya Peters of Southern Miss in the 2000 season. Kelsey Hoffman set her record in 67 games whereas Kenya Peters set hers in 76 games, meaning Miss Hoffman recorded 11.4 putouts per game for her team.
Most Putouts in a season:
The record for most putouts in a career is held by Kenya Peters of Southern Miss from the years 1999 to 2002. Over her 4-year softball career, she recorded 2,221 putouts or about 555 per year. Miss Peters was also a catcher.
What Is The Difference Between The Putout And An Assist?
In the realm of softball, the terms ‘putout’ and ‘assist’ often overlap, leading to confusion among fans. The distinction is essential to grasp the game’s intricacies. A putout, denoted as ‘PO’, is credited to a player who directly orchestrates an out, such as catching a fly ball or tagging a runner.
Conversely, an assist is recorded when a player contributes to an out indirectly. For instance, a fielder who catches a ground ball and throws it to a teammate, who then tags the base, is credited with an assist, while the teammate gets the putout.
However, a putout can occur without an assist, as in flyouts or some groundouts. In such cases, the player is credited with an unassisted putout, and no assist is recorded. Understanding these terms will enhance your appreciation of the game and allow you to follow the action more closely.