When Does 3=1? [Coach-Pitch]

The rule for the number of coach pitches allowed was changed for baseball in 2020 and is now consistent with softball rules. So how many pitches does a coach really get to throw during coach pitch? This one seems simple enough, and yet the math never seems to add up for most coaches and umpires. This was the rule for softball for years, but many still don’t understand it.

The Coach Pitch rule states (and I paraphrase), the coach-pitcher will throw no more than 3 pitches to complete the balance of the count with the umpire calling balls and strikes. Simple, right?

Think of it this way – the coach has up to 3 pitches to strike out the batter. The number of pitches depends on how many strikes are left when the coach assumes the role of coach-pitcher. If the batter has a count of 4-2, then the coach has 3 chances to throw 1 more strike, swinging or hitting.

In each scenario below, the count is 4-2 when the coach comes in to pitch:

SCENARIO 1:
Pitch 1 of 3: Batter doesn’t swing because the coach rolled it in and the umpire calls a BALL.
Pitch 2 of 3: Batter doesn’t swing again because the coach sailed it over her head and the umpire calls a BALL.
Pitch 3 of 3: Batter doesn’t swing again because she has no faith in the coach now. The batter is OUT because that was the 3rd pitch (and it was not fouled off.) The coach is usually booed off the mound at this point.

SCENARIO 2:
Pitch 1 of 3: Batter doesn’t swing because the coach rolled it in and the umpire calls a BALL.
Pitch 2 of 3: Batter swings and misses. Batter is out as that was the 3rd strike.

SCENARIO 3:
Pitch 1 of 3: Batter doesn’t swing, but the ball was called a STRIKE by the umpire. The batter is out as that was the 3rd strike.

Reference Rule 4.05 (a)

1 Comment

  1. Oliver on April 17, 2021 at 6:37 am

    great explanation. Great examples.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply