Baseball is a game where the players play both defensive and offensive positions. Each player must play the field, either by securing the infield bases, pitching, catching or defending the outfield while minimizing the opposing teams’ opportunity to score during one half of an inning. During the other half of the inning, those same defensive players must take up an offensive stance by batting. Each player must try to hit the pitched ball in such a way as to score runs without drawing an “out’ before the runs are scored.
The field team, or defense, is trying to keep the opposing team from scoring. The field can be divided into two areas-outfield and infield. The infield is the first line of defense against the opposing team. The pitcher and the catcher work together at home plate, the first, second and third basemen defend each of the infield bases and the short stop defends the area between second and third base as well as back up any infielder in need. The outfield defends against the ball that makes it out of the infield. Three players are strategically placed in the outfield. One player is responsible for left field; another for center and finally a player is responsible for right field.
The team that is batting during a baseball game is playing offensively and their goal is to score runs. Much like the fielding players, the batters have assigned places in the lineup or batting order. The lineup is determined before the start of each game and any changes to it must be cleared by the game’s officiators-the umpires. The manager and the coaches confer as to which player will bat in what order. Once it is time for the prearranged player to make a “plate appearance”, they must be warmed up and ready to face the pitcher. The goal of the batter is to advance to first base or beyond. The batter does this by successfully hitting the ball and running to the farthest base possible without being thrown out. Once the batter is at the plate, three things can happen. The batter can hit the ball, walk or strike out. By hitting the ball the batter is able to run to base. A strike occurs when the pitcher has successfully pitched the ball past the batter by either pitching into the strike zone without the batter hitting the ball, by making the batter swing at and miss a pitched ball or by hitting the ball into foul territory. In either case, three strikes means the batter is out. In the case of foul balls, a batter cannot be out on strikes if the foul ball would count as the third strike. Finally, a batter walks when the pitcher pitches outside the strike zone without the batter swinging at or hitting the pitched ball. A total of four balls are needed before the batter is allowed to move to first base.
Once the batter has successfully hit the ball, base running comes into play. The batter can advance from the plate in many ways. If the batter hits a ball and is only able to proceed to first base without being thrown out, the batter has hit a single. A hit that brings the batter to second base is called a double and on to third is called a triple. If the batter is able to “run the bases”, or advance from home plate, around the bases back to home plate, he has hit a homerun.