THE SLAP FACTORY

2.6 seconds

That’s how long it takes for a slap hitting speedster to put a bat on the ball and touch first base 60 feet away. That’s how long a fielder has to charge the ball, field it cleanly and throw them out.

Coaches call slap hitting an “art form.” After all, if everyone knows when it’s coming, how do the better slappers still reach base over half the time. And once that speedster reaches base, the base paths are her domain.




It’s why many of the more talented hitters moved to the other side of the plate. Once natural right-handed hitters, speed dictated their move to the opposite batter’s box, where they’ve carved out careers as a short swinging slapper.

The task is simple: Beat the ball straight down into the ground, and raise a ruckus running the bases.

Thirty years ago, baseball was a line-drive, slap hitting sport. No steroid talk. No swinging for the fences. No 6-foot-4, 250-pound cleanup hitters wearing body armor.

Softball followed suit in the late 1970's, adopting a similar style of play to its male equivalent. But with bases 60 feet apart instead of 90 feet, softball took the slap hit a step further in the 1980's.

By then, Arizona assistant Larry Ray had established himself as one of the best teachers in slap hitting, and for the next decade-plus, teams filled their rosters with light-swinging, run-happy slap hitters.

I’ve seen teams with seven of them in the lineup

Speed kills......speed never slumps.