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Discussion: Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.

Posted Discussion
Sept. 12
Turbobob
Men's 65
71 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
My league is a local, non-tournament 65 plus senior softball league, using slow pitch, high arc, self-umpiring, 9 inning game, no time limits.
Typical game time is 2-2.5 hours and we want to reduce that a little bit, and keep it at 9 innings.

I am aware of reducing the time by implementing the following:
No pitcher or infield/outfield warm-up throws after the 2nd inning, except for a new player entering the game.
All coaches/umpires have a spare ball available to throw back immediately to the pitcher if the pitched ball is not hit and gets away from the catcher, or is a foul ball.
Use a 4 run maximum per inning instead of 5, keeping last inning as an open one.

The one I want to focus on as a time saver is using a "no walks" rule, and the count starting with one strike. No balls are called at all.
I've seen a reference or two to public teams using this "no walks or strikes only" approach and would like some feedback on using this and how you handle situations where the pitcher is having difficulty hitting the strike mat (6 or more pitched balls missing the strike mat). Do you penalize the pitcher in some way, or just wait for him to settle down? I would think most pitchers would like the idea of having to throw just 2 strikes at the most to get a possible out, as opposed to purposely trying to just hit the edge of the mat knowing there is no penalty.
We don't use a time clock for our games, so administering a penalty by adjusting the time clock is not applicable.

Input from all players, and from umpires who handle games like this, is appreciated.

Thanks,
Turbobob
Sept. 12
ffdonnie
Men's 60
137 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
Wow, with all those rules you mentioned, I definitely would not be playing in that league. Jeez in our senior league if we used no walks, we would probably play 3 innings.
The only rule I like is no infield practice after the first. Why in the hell do you guys think you have to throw to the first baseman between every inning? It hasn't moved in the last 40 years.
Sept. 12
chico senior
Men's 60
134 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
Let me make sure I understand. You play a 9 inning game in 2-2.5 hours. Everyone in senior softball plays 7 inning games in aprox 1 hr 15 minutes. You want to do away with calling pitches balls with the idea this will speed up the game. What will happen is just the opposite. Pitchers knowing that they can’t walk anyone will throw nothing but 12-15 foot pitches that hit the back 2 inches of the mat. If they miss and pitch is called a ball no big deal. Just keep on heaving it up to the plate until they hit that part of the mat with no penalty for throwing balls. Very bad idea in my mind.
Sept. 13
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1438 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
Turbobob, honestly the only leagues that I have ever seen no walks in are 8 and under and Special Olympics. Both use coach pitch and a pitcher's helper. What they do is allow five or six (have seen both depending on their league rules that year) pitches or three swings. Then the batter is out. With all of the rules that you have, maybe you should just go one pitch (aka full count, 3-2 pitch, or ball or strike). Our senior leagues use a modified way of doing innings which they say saves time. The visitors bat their first and second innings, then switch sides to let the home team bat their first two innings and continue like that. I think that nine innings is too long, but if you guys think that is fun, it's your game.

ffdonnie, most associations moved 1B from 65 to 70 feet this century. I do agree that infield practice after the first inning is a time waster.
Sept. 13
DieselDan
Men's 75
605 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
Sorry TB, no suggestions, just surprised that your final two innings take about 45-60 minutes more than most of us who play just seven innings.
Sept. 14
ju25
Men's 60
236 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
Our 65+ league plays 9 and uses a 3-2 count with 3 runs per inning and our games last about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Sept. 14
mck71
Men's 60
345 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
TB - Personally I don't think "no walks" approach will shorten the game, I mean if a pitcher can't throw a strike then the batter will wait until he does know he can hit 1 pitch eventually. I believe the best way I could think of to help you shorten the game would be to:

Use a 1-1 count NO FOUL
use the 3 run rule as JU25 suggested (means a few less walks IF your P can't throw a strike)
Have each team bat twice before taking the field (3 outs, clear the bases and start 2nd inning) so that is 4 less changes with players having to walk on and off the field

my 2 cents
Sept. 15
Turbobob
Men's 65
71 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
Responses to:

chico senior,
the focus of the question was to find out what, if any, penalties does anyone assess to pitchers who can't find the strike zone in a "no walks" situation. If there are none, then so be it. Just inquiring if there are any being used.

Nancy and ju25,
the 3-2 count approach would definitely speed it up, but now we lose the basics of the game which our players won't accept.

ju25 and mck71,
your thoughts about using 3 runs max per inning, and also using the 2 inning "reset" rule in combination would probably work the best. I would use the "reset" for the first 2 innings, then revert back to 3 outs per inning in order to save a little time at the beginning of the game and still keep the game the way it is supposed to be played.

We put everybody who shows up into the batting order for the entire game, and do not use the substitution/re-entry rule (typically have 14-16 guys show up). Tried the 1-1 count and no one like it. We can't control the number of errors that are made which extends the game, but that's part of the game, isn't it?

Thanks for the input.
Turbobob
Sept. 15
stick8

1992 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
In USSSA we use what is referred to as the “hurry up” rule. After the 1st inning no infield warm up, pitcher gets only one warm up pitch and it’s right back to the pitcher (no throwing it down). After any out it’s right back to the pitcher (no throwing it around the infield). These seem to speed up the game somewhat.
What also works for me is when teams are coming in to bat I’ll holler “batter up”. That kind of lights match under their butts to get it moving. I’ll also holler out how much game time is remaining. That can get players moving a bit.
Now these are ideas for tournaments but it’s up to the teams in your league to have a no walk rule (or any other rules) Personally I would not be on board with a no walk rule but it wouldn’t deter me from not playing.
Just like you commented errors are a part of the game, so are walks. Working the pitcher for a walk is a great tactic to and afaic should never be done away with.
just my $0.02 worth
Sept. 15
chico senior
Men's 60
134 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
Your comment to Nancy are interesting. You state you don’t want to lose the basics of the game but you want to use a no walks change to the rules. I would consider that a huge change to the basic rules of softball.. it’s too bad that your league doesn’t want to use the idea of starting with a 1-1 count as that speeds up the game. I still don’t get why your 9 inning games last up to 2 1/2 hours.
Sept. 16
Nancy Allen
Men's 55
1438 posts
Using a "no walks, strikes only" approach to shorten game time in a public league.
chico senior, I agree. Turbobob, if they want to stay with the basics of the game, then fix it by going seven innings which is what softball uses or adopt a time limit. Then you do not have to change anything else. Nine innings is for baseball and, in my opinion only, way too long for a senior softball game.
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