Runner at 3rd, Bunt Placement
I will start with the obvious, have I found a weakness on the field...1st, 3rd, pitcher? If so, that's the obvious choice. Attack the weak player or the player having a bad game. This could also be a weakness in their defensive scheme, for example if they don't have the 1st baseman crash the bunt. Always take advantage of a weakness and as often as possible.
Next, it depends on my primary objective. If my primary objective is to score the runner from 3rd, I typically want the bunt about 6-8 feet up the 1st baseline. 6-8 feet so it's far enough away from the catcher that 1B has to make the play. Also, towards 1B because I want the catcher to lose sight of the runner coming home. A perilous time for the catcher knowing the runner is about to score but can't see her/him coming. Makes for a lot of missed or bobbled catches. Also gives the runner an advantage as they can find a part of the plate to slide to.
If my primary objective is to get the batter to 1st, I would be more inclined to bunt towards 3rd base. Now the 3rd baseman must do a 180 to check the runner and then another 180 to make the play at first. Also, 3B will have a slightly longer throw to 1B than the 1st baseman. We are only talking about 10ths of seconds, but it can be the difference in safe or out. Under this scenario, the 3B Coach has the responsibility of picking up the shortstop to make sure he/she doesn't come in behind the runner at 3rd. The Runner should have the 3rd baseman in view and can lead off appropriately. Just don't get picked by the SS.
Also, whether you choose to bunt towards 1B or 3B, I want the ball well off the line. On a softball field, I want the ball placed more to the SS or to 2B than up the lines. When the batter squares to bunt, 1B & 3B should be breaking on the play. I want them to have to change the angle of their approach rather than be able to run full speed in a straight line to the ball.
With runners on 1st & 3rd, Bunt Placement
I would be inclined to bunt towards 1B. I would be hopeful that 2B might go to 2B with the runner from 1st and thereby leave 1B uncovered. In softball it's virtually impossible for P to cover 1B. In baseball, that's not necessarily true, but may be true in a bunt situation if the pitcher breaks to field the bunt.
One final factor to consider is your batter's abilities. I have several players that bunt extremely well towards 1B, but seem to put a LOT of balls foul when going towards 3B. Maddening! If the first attempt goes foul, you have lost the element of surprise. So, play to your strengths.
“Now, Go Get ‘EM Coach!
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