The Correct Call!
DP/Flex Strategies * #1 - Fast Runner Weak Hitter
DP/Flex Strategies * 1 - Fast Runner Weak Hitter
FEBRUARY 8, 2018 - One of the most important rules for umpires to understand is the DP/Flex. I will start to share some different strategies in upcoming blog entries to help you think it through. But why is the DP/Flex so difficult for umpires to understand?
DIFFICULTY - MY THEORY
As a new softball umpire, I had a really hard time learning the DP/Flex. Why? Because the newer umpire rarely gets to use the DP/Flex. In USA league and tournament softball here in Utah most coaches opt for batting the entire roster. And when the occasional tournament coach uses the DP/Flex they use it in its easiest fashion. This all changes with the UHSAA high school season. Varsity coaches regularly use the DP/Flex in the Varsity game. Plate umpires are expected to know the rule and its limitations, but that is the Varsity plate umpire. And there is the rub. Newer umpires are scheduled as the JV plate umpire and then as the filed umpire during the Varsity game. In the JV game the DP/Flex is NEVER used. In fact, the rules for the shortened, usually by sunset, JV game are willy-nilly at best, with the DP/Flex never being used.
So what does this all mean? It means that as you progress from a newer umpire to a seasoned Varsity umpire you go from never ever getting to use the DP/Flex to immediately being in a position where you are expected to have mastered the rule so that you can give guidance to coaches who do not really understand what is allowed. That's right, with your first Varsity plate assignment you will be expected to have mastered this rule.
I will attempt to share strategies in the coming weeks and months to help us all better understand the DP/Flex.
STRATEGY #1 - Fast Runner Weak Hitter
This is the most straight forward use of the DP/Flex rule...
Objective: Utilize a fast runner who is a weak hitter (FLEX) to run for the solid hitting DP.
Matchup: Pair up a solid hitter (DP) with a player of exceptional speed but who is a weak hitter (FLEX).
Typical sequence: DP hits safely; FLEX enters to run for her; DP reenters and hits safely; FLEX enters to run for her; sub #1 hits for DP (since the DP already used her one re-entry), FLEX enters to run for sub #1; sub #1 reenters and hits safely; FLEX enters to run for sub #1; sub #2 hits safely; FLEX enters to run for her; and so on.
Remember that there is no limit to the number of times that a Flex player can run for the DP. It does not count against them as enterring and leaving the game. Using this strategy the DP player is limited to the substitution rules, so you would have several strong hitters lined up to come into the DP slot and then have Speedy Gonzalez (Flex) run for them.
You will want to read section 4-3 in the USA Softball rule book and 3-3 in the NFHS rule book. The USA Softball rule book also has Rule Supplement #15 DESIGNATED PLAYER OR DP (Fast Pitch).
Make it a great day! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah