Runners will be allowed to lead off from any base at their own risk. Players will be coached on what each runners "safe" distance is for leading off, techniques for getting back to the respective base when the defense attempts to throw them out, as well as when to steal. Players will learn how to read a pitcher as well as learn the hit and run technique.
Balks are technical in nature and will be called by the umpires during the game. KAYB has instituted a rule, whereby, for instructional purposes, they will be given a warning on the first balk, but on the second balk then the penalty will be enforced which is to advance any base runners one base for the balk infraction. A balk is basically any movement by the pitcher which is intended to deceive the runner or in some cases the batter.
When the catcher does not catch the pitched ball on a third strike whether the pitch is a wild pitch, passed ball, or simply dropped by the catcher, the batter may run to first if unoccupied by another runner and the catcher will have the opportunity to retrieve the ball and throw the runner out at first. The first baseman needs only to have his foot on the base when catching the ball to get the runner out.
Some of the terms listed below might have been used in the Cal Ripken Major-60 format but will become more prevalent in the Major 70 format.
HIT AND RUN:
The Hit and Run starts when the manager/coach calls for the play. The runner on first, in the leading off position, begins to run on the first indication by the pitcher that the pitcher is throwing to home plate (a pitch). The batter is going to try and hit the ball to the right side of the field. The primary objective of this play is to attempt to get the runner to third. By having a head start on his run, and with a ball in play it gives the runner an advantage. The secondary objective of the play is to get the runner to second safely.
An illegal pitch is (1) a pitch delivered to the batter when the pitcher does not have his/her foot on the rubber (2) a quick return pitch (see below). If there are runners on base than an illegal pitch would be a balk.
OFF THE RUBBER:
This term refers to a pitcher who does not have his/her foot on the pitching mound. A legal pitch is only one whereby the pitcher has his foot in contact with the rubber in the beginning of his/her pitch. The two types of pitching methods are the wind up and the stretch.
This term is most often used to describe the act of the pitcher. The pitcher, with his/her foot OFF the rubber, throws the ball to an infielder to get a leading off runner out before the runner can return to the base. It can also be used to describe a catcher throwing to an infielder in the same manner. Pitchers will learn to make the correct move of getting their foot off the rubber and turning as applicable to make the throw. An incorrect throw by the pitcher will result in a balk.
This can also be called a Quick Pitch. A Quick Pitch is one made with obvious intent to catch the batter off balance or unprepared. The Quick Pitch is an illegal pitch. The Quick Pitch is mentioned here because the pitchers being concerned about a runner on base might quick pitch to the batter in order to keep the runner from stealing.
READ A PITCHER:
Runners will be coached to "read" the movement of the pitcher in order to determine whether the picher is going to attempt a pick off or deliver the pitch to the batter. Learning how to "read" the pitcher will give an advantage to the runner in making the decision to stay or to steal. There are several "reads" the runner can make and the manager/coaches will be teaching those "reads".
SAFE DISTANCE LEAD OFF:
In general this is the distance the runner will take from the base in leading off. This will vary from player to player. The distance might also be referred to as the primary or initial distance with an extended distance being referred to as a secondary lead (one that is further from the base, once the pitcher has delivered the pitch to the batter). The primary lead is a distance where the runner feels comfortable, should the pitcher throw to the baseman, whereby the runner can dive back to the base safely without being put out (picked off).
This play is also available in the 60-foot format but is rarely used because runners are required to remain on base until the ball crosses the plate. In the 70-foot format the play is when a runner is on third, and attempts to steal home with the batter bunting. The bunt pulls the catcher out of position or requires an infielder or pitcher to field the ball which takes time and gives the runner an advantage.
This is one of the methods a pitcher uses in the delivery of a pitch. The other method is a wind up. Most parents and players are familiar with the wind up which is what you have seen pitchers use from minors on up. The stretch is used in the situation where you have runner(s) on base and you don't want to give the runner any more advantage than you have to. For right-hand pitchers the stretch is where the pitcher places his right foot in the front of the mound, extends his left foot toward the plate and awaits the pitch signal from the catcher. Once the signal has been given the pitcher returns his left foot back and close to his right foot, places the ball in the mitt and MUST make a motion with his two hands that STOPS in front of him. From this position the pitcher can deliver the pitch using a kick method (raises his front leg as in a wind up) or a slide motion with his left leg. A slide motion is one where the pitcher steps forward to deliver the pitch with his foot barely off the ground. Each coach will teach the best method for each pitcher.
70-FOOT PROGRAM SUMMARY
- The 70-foot program offers players the opportunity to further their skills by experiencing more aspects of the traditional game
- Base paths are extended from 60 to 70 feet
- Pitching distance extended from 46 to 50 feet
- Players can now take leads off the bases and steal similar to the older levels of the Babe Ruth Program
- Batters may attempt to run to first on a dropped third strike
- Balk rules apply
- Pitchers will learn to hold runners on base and pitch from the stretch
- The 70-foot program will help players transition easier from the Cal Ripken size field to the Babe Ruth size field, and keep the kids in the game longer since the change will be less formidable.
- A World Series for both the 60- and 70-foot programs allows an All-Star team for each program