In softball, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrase, “You can’t teach speed.” That might be true, but pro softball player and speedster Brenna Moss says there is more to base running than raw speed.
Moss combined blazing speed and base-running smarts to set herself apart in college at Fresno State and with the Chicago Bandits in National Pro Fastpitch.
Her 104 career steals shattered Fresno State’s previous record of 86. She also was named to the All-Mountain West First Team three times and was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2014.
That success led her to the NPF, where the Bandits selected her 13th in the 2015 draft. Moss became the first Fresno State player to be drafted since 2005.
She shared some base-running tips with The Season.
Leading off is an important factor in base running, Moss said. The runner needs to make sure she isn’t taking too big of a lead at first, and she needs to avoid playing it too safe at second or third.
“For first base, you don’t want to go too far, so I always say a step and a dive away just in case the catcher tries to pick you,” Moss said. “I think everyone is different, so you have to find it for yourself, but for me I take a good hard step and then turn and watch the catcher.”
Moss said the keys to a successful steal are getting a good jump, keeping the head down and going into the bag hard.
“The perfect timing off the base is what gets you going,” she said. “Put your head down and run in the straightest line possible — some girls don’t run in a straight line, which slows them down — and then don’t slow down before you get there. Slide hard.”
When Moss refers to perfect timing, she is talking about both the perfect lead and style of lead. In her case, she uses the rocker start.
“I lead off with my front foot on the base and my other foot is back behind the base,” she said. “I take my first step when the pitcher’s hand gets to 12:00, maybe 1:00, because that way when I’m pushing off by the time she is releasing, the foot that’s on the base is coming off right when she releases.”
Moss emphasized finding what works for you.
“I know some people like to lead off with their other foot in front, but that messes with my timing,” she said. “I think it’s easier to rock back with the pitcher and take off as she releases.”
The baseball way to slide is typically head first, but Moss thinks sliding feet first gives the softball player an advantage because of the pop-up slide.
“I always go feet first because you can do a pop-up slide and if they miss the ball, you’re ready to run to the next base,” said Moss.
From GameChanger and Maren Angus. Photo by Dina Kwit/National Pro Fastpitch.