Softball is a fast-paced and exciting sport that requires quick reflexes, coordination, and strategic thinking.
As with any sport, there are numerous statistics that measure a player’s performance. One statistic that stands out a bit from the crowd is the Put Out (or PO for short). If you are new to softball, you may be wondering what it is, and why is it so important?
What does a Put Out mean in Softball? A Put Out is a defensive statistic that measures the number of times a player records an out 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 seemingly simple statistic can reveal a lot about a team’s defensive performance, and can be used to assess a player’s individual performance as well.
Whether you are a seasoned softball player, a curious fan, or a coach looking to improve your team’s performance, understanding the nuances of Put Out in softball stats is essential.
By the end of this article, you will have a deeper appreciation for the defensive aspects of softball and be able to identify areas where you or your team can improve. So, let’s dive in!
What Put Out means in Softball and How it Differs from Other Stats
Everyone knows the key hitting and pitching statistics in softball. But one of the more underrated aspects of the game is the ability to play good defense. There are a few different statistics used to measure how effective a fielder is, but it can still be a tad overwhelming to know which are the right ones to use.
The “Put Out” statistic is one of the most important stats when judging fielding ability as it relates directly to defensive performance. Put simply, a “Put Out” is a play made by a fielder to record an out by tagging a runner with the ball or touching a base before the runner reaches it.
It is important to note that not all outs are recorded as Put Outs. For example, if a runner is caught stealing or is forced out at a base, these outs are not considered Put Outs. Instead, they are recorded as “caught stealing” or “fielder’s choice” respectively.
Examples of Put Outs
To understand how a Put Out works, let’s take a look at a few examples.
- A batter hits a ground ball to the shortstop. The shortstop fields the ball and throws it to the first baseman, who steps on first base before the runner reaches it. This is recorded as a put out for the first baseman.
- A batter strikes out at the plate and the catcher does not drop the third strike ball. This is recorded as a put out for the catcher.
- A batter hit a fly ball into right field. The ball is caught by the right fielder. This is recorded as a put out for the right fielder.
Positions that record the most put-outs
Although I don’t have any official data to back up these claims but if you think of an average softball game, the most putouts are normally going to occur at first base. If you think about it, most ground balls in the infield require a throw to first base except for force out plays that end innings. Therefore when looking at the leaderboards, players at first base tend to have more putouts than other positions.
Another common position that would record a high number of putouts would be the catcher. This is predominately due to the number of strikeouts that can occur in an average game of softball.
More complicated Put-Out rules
Earlier we discussed the more common ways in which a putout occurs for different fielders. There are a couple complicated ones that could occur in a game albeit less frequently. These include:
- In some cases, a hitter may swing and miss resulting in a 3rd strike but the catcher will drop the ball allowing the runner to attempt to reach first base. If the catcher is able to throw the player out at first base on time, the putout is recorded for the first baseman and not the catcher.
- If a runner is penalized for interference or obstruction then 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
Earlier we described what a putout is in softball. You might now be wondering if it is an important or useful statistic to use.
Putouts can be used to measure a team’s defensive strength, as they reflect the number of times the team was able to make an out and prevent the other team from scoring.
For example, imagine a scenario where a team is up 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 – the game is over and they win. If they are unable to make the out, the game will either continue as the runner has scored from third base, or the game could be over if there were additional runs scored.
Although the ability to make a putout is important, you should use caution when saying a team if better defensively than another team solely based on putouts. In a regulation game of 7 innings, a team will record 21 putouts. If you take out extra innings and the times the home team does not require to bat in the bottom of the 7th then most teams will have a similar number of putouts.
Putouts on their own are difficult when it comes to evaluating the individual defensive performance of players.
For example, a pitcher who induces a lot of ground balls will lead to a higher number of putouts recorded by the first baseman. It will also help elevate the other infield positions as more hits on the ground will lead to force and tag outs at other bases around the infield. On the other end if the opposing team is able to generate more power against a pitcher, more putouts would be likely be recorded in the outfield in the pay of fly outs.
A catcher who records a high number of putouts is likely on the receiving end of a lot of strike outs and may be considered good at framing or calling a great game. Although many would probably argue that the pitcher has a lot to do with the strikeouts!
Bet way to use Putouts
When it comes to evaluating for defensive ability, putouts are best used in conjunction with other statistics to gain a more complete understanding. 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.
Understanding the significance of Put Outs in softball is helpful for coaches and players who want to optimize their defensive performance. By tracking Put Outs and using them in combination with other statistics, teams can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to strengthen their defense.
Softball Putout Records
One thing I do enjoy as a bit of a softball statistic nerd is the different records that exist. Although there are many different leagues for softball, I will stick with NCAA Division 1 as they have the cleanest and easiest statistics to find.
Most Putouts in a game
The most putouts in a single softball game was 35 recorded by Laura Myers of Cal Poly Pomona on May 24th, 1984. What is interesting about this record is that the game took 25 innings to complete! It should not be a huge surprise if you’ve read the article so far that Laura played first base.
As for the most putouts for a 7-inning game. That record stands at an impressive 21 shared by two players: Stephanie Pinter (Notre Dame) on April 25th, 1992 and Lidia Stiglich of California on March 22nd, 1991. If you think about it, this means that both women were responsible for all of their teams outs on those days!
Most Putouts in a season
There are always anomalies and weird things that can happen in a single game of softball. So when looking at the ultimate defensive list, a full season sample is probably more appropriate. This record for a full season is shared by two women with an amazing 765 putouts:
- Kelsey Hoffman of Virginia Tech in the 2008 season
- Kenya Peters of Southern Miss in the 2000 season
An interesting point is that Kelsey Hoffman set her record in 67 games whereas Kenya Peters set hers in 76 games. That means over the span of the 2008 season, Miss Hoffman recorded 11.4 putouts per game for her team. In other words – she was responsible for over half the putouts for the year. Kelsey was also a catcher which makes the record quite intriguing!
Most Putouts in a career
Last but not least is the record for most putouts in a career. This symbolizes a player who has played phenomenal defense for a much longer span of games which means they can consistently be counted on.
We’ve already mentioned her name, but the career record for putouts 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.
The Bottom Line – The Importance of the Putout stat
To sum things up, the putout (PO) stat in softball is a fundamental aspect that enables players, coaches, and fans to gain a deeper understanding of team or player defensive performance.
There are many different ways in which a putout can be recorded – some more common than others. As mentioned – in general – players at first base and catcher will have the highest number of putouts in a full season of play.
We have shown that using putouts on their own is not the best idea when it comes to determining whether a player is better defensively than another player. However, by tracking them and using in combination with other statistics, teams can identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to enhance their defense.
So, next time you’re watching a softball game, keep an eye out for the number of times a player makes an out and appreciate the impact they have on the game!