A proper hit-and-run requires more than just striking the ball with the bat. Here's a handy guide to help runners and hitters execute this highly effective play.
The Hitter's Responsibility
The hitter must first understand that, other than a ball in the dirt, he is swinging at EVERYTHING. To this day, I still see batters who know the hit and run is on, yet don’t swing.
It even happens in batting practice. I don’t get it. The batter should be happy that he could swing at a pitch anywhere, and not get in trouble for it.
Furthermore, the batter should expect a bad pitch. Why? Because if it is a good pitch, he shouldn’t have any trouble making contact; it’s those pitches over your head that one must worry about.
An important note is there is no rule against throwing the bat at the ball in case of a pitchout.
As far as the swing, the batter definitely wants to tone it down. Ideally, he lets the ball get deep into the zone so he hits the ball to opposite field.
However, in my opinion, hitting to the opposite field is a bonus. The number one concern (actually number two after making contact) is to hit the ball on the ground.
As I wrote earlier, one of the purposes of the hit and run is to stay out of the double play. If the batter hits the ball in the air, there is a good chance that the runner will be doubled up.
On a high pitch, the batter should tomahawk the ball, thus swinging down on it. Remember that the batter needs to hit the ball on the ground.
The Runner's Responsibility
A few items of importance here. First, a runner should never get picked off in a hit and run situation!! It’s very simple, the hit and run is put on to stay out of the double play. We are giving up our hitter; they are giving up a base. A pick off should never happen.
In other words, the runner does not need a great jump. Once the runner takes off, after the third or fourth step, he should peek to the batter to see where the ball is hit.
If the ball is in the air, obviously he should stop, wait for the catch, and go back to his base. A line drive is different. If the runner sees the batter hit a line drive, he should keep going.
If the ball is caught the runner will get doubled up anyway; if the ball goes through there’s a good chance he is now standing on third.
Now, sometimes the runner will not see where the ball is hit. Then he must go to plan B, which is to watch the reaction of the defense. Usually this will dictate where the ball was hit. In closing, did I mention that the runner should never get picked off?
The Coach's Responsibility
Well, obviously he is the one who puts on the play. More important, the coach must be vocal upon contact.
He will say one of two things—UUUUUUUUPPP! Meaning the ball was hit in the air and the runner should stop and find the ball.
As a bonus, I usually will yell up, then where the ball is headed. For example-- Up, right field! If the ball is on the ground the coach must yell KEEP COMING!!!!!
Now, this is only a signal to keep him going to second and it should be clear that the runner isn’t necessarily going to third base.
The next words should be something along the line of GET HERE or something like that. Each coach has his own language. Just make sure your players know what that language is.