The new sport of Eagle Ball was created by David Davis and Boise Idaho from Eagle Idaho USA in 2018. They originally called it Smash Ball, but that was already taken by another new sport.
Equipment Required: Same as in softball
Eagle Ball is played on the same field and uses the same equipment as softball: balls, bats and mitts. The major difference is that in Eagle Ball there is no pitching. Instead the batter tosses the ball up and hits it in the someway a coach hits grounders during fielding practice. The other major difference is that the field is cut in half. The ball must be hit between 2nd and 3rd base. As a result, it takes far less players to field a team. Five to seven players is plenty.
Eagle Ball is a much faster and engaging game than softball. Games last about 30 minutes. In that half hour a batter would expect 5-7 swings and a fielder would expect to face 6 to 8 hard grounders or line drives. So, once every two minutes you are either hitting or catching the ball. Finally, there are a multitude of rule variations which allow you to modify each game to match the number of players available and their skill level.
The batter stands at home plate and tosses the ball into the air and swings, hits the ball, and runs to first. The defense has a firstbase man and fielders all positioned between 2nd and 3rd base, left field and the left side of center field.
The batter is out if he:
- Misses the ball
- The hit ball is foul (which means it hits ground left of 3rd base or right of 2nd base)
- A fielder catches the ball in the air
- The firstbase man catches the ball ahead of the runner
- The ball stops rolling before reaching the outfield grass. This is basically our 'No Bunt' rule. You are supposed to 'smash' the ball. If you hit the ball slowly, so that you can beat out the throw, you are not in the spirit of the game and go back to softball.
The batter scores a run if he:
- He steps on first base ahead of the ball. The batter then goes back to dugout. He does not stay on base.
Innings: In each inning every team member bats once, even if there are 3 or more outs. The final inning must be started before the 30 minute mark.
The game seems most enjoyable when the batter has a 50-50 chance of getting a run. You may need to tweak he rules to achieve this ratio. The best way to accomplish this ratio is a practice inning. Have each player on each team bat once. When you're done, add up the runs and the outs. Then choose a rule variation to get you closer to a 50-50 ratio of outs to runs.
A six player team usually has a man on first, two infielders, two out fielders and a rover. If your practice inning showed too many outs, then you can alter the field:
- Move right field foul line further to the right. It is hard to gauge right field foul balls if you only have and imaginary line from home plate to second base going into the outfield. So you might want to chalk that line or mark it with a rope or crime or construction tape. Tape is easier to move than a chalk line. If you make the fair ball field bigger, you will see more hits.
- Move first base. Bring it closer to the batter. Or, keep the distance from the batter the same, but move it to the right so the throw is longer. This too will make it easier to get a hit.
If your practice inning showed too many hits, then you can alter the field in the opposite manner:
- Move right field foul line to the left towards 3rd base. If you make the fair ball field smaller, you will see more outs.
- Move first base. Take it further away from the batter. Or, keep the distance from the batter the same, but move it closer to 2nd so the throw is shorter. This too will make it easier to get an out.
Speed is the name of this game. Softball is slow. You stand around a lot. In Eagle Ball, you want to cram as much activity as you can into a 30 minute game.
Use multiple balls. The on deck hitter should have ball and bat in hand. When he batter starts running to first, the on deck hitter steps into the batter box. The first fielder to catch the ball has two choices. He can throw to first. Or, if there is no debate that the batter got a hit, just throw the ball to the batter's dugout and save some time. The next batter surveys to field making sure each fielder is stationary and in position. The batter yells HITTING and if no fielder yells WAIT he takes his swing.
Aerobic Eagle Ball
Now, if you really want an incredible workout, you can try 'Aerobic Eagle Ball' or 'Eagle Ball On Steroids'. You will need an independent umpire/timer. Each half inning is a timed 2 minute exercise.
Make sure the on deck circle is at least 30 feet from home. As soon as the batter strikes the ball, the on deck hitter runs to home to make his swing. The fielder who catches the ball makes his throw to first base or dugout, and then the fielder must immediately get ready for the next hit which could come in a few seconds.
Occasionally, the umpire must get involved. The ump keeps the batter from hitting until all infielders are safely ready for the next swing. The ump has a two minute stopwatch. If the ump thinks the defense is responsible for any delay, he stops time and restarts it when the defense is ready. When two minutes is up, the ump yells 'Switch!' The defense sprints in to bat. The batters sprint to the field. There is an advantage to running fast. When the ump yells 'Switch' he starts the two minute timer. When the next batter steps into the box, the up will either let him swing or stops the clock until the defense is ready.
This is an incredible aerobic workout. For example, you are in the on deck circle. You sprint to home plate. Take a swing. Sprint to first. Jog back to the dugout. Wait in the dugout for 40 seconds, jog out to the on deck circle, sprint to home plate, hit the ball again, sprint to first again, jog to the dugout, wait in the dugout for 30 seconds, your teams two minutes are up, so you sprint to your shortstop position, range far to you right to gobble up a grounder, 15 seconds later jump high and snag a line drive, 30 seconds later you dive left but miss a grounder, you watch a few fly balls, their two minutes is up then sprint back to the dugout, wait 30 seconds and step out into the on deck circle for inning two.
Whew! In this version of Eagle Ball, you are trying to cram as many at bats as you can so you have a better chance at more hits. But you must be in control enough to make solid contact, sound fielding and accurate throws. Whew! This is not a lazy game of softball.
The time is not set in stone: two minutes, five minutes, one minute. Or you can do a hybrid: two minutes of r five outs, whichever comes first.
No running -- Presumed fielding
You don't have to run. There is an option to presume an out or a run. You hit the ball, and you don't run, you watch the ball. You decide hit or out as follows:
- If the infielder cleanly catches a grounder and throws to first, and the first baseman catches it with his foot on first base then the batter is out. If the first base man fails to catch it cleanly then it is a run.
- If a line drive, fly ball or grounder touches outfield grass, the batter is safe.
Hardball is back
For many men (and some women), playing with a hardball is distant memory. Little league. Junior high. We just gave into softball because it was safer and co-ed and we never could hit a well-pitched hardball. But many of us still relish the feel of the hardball and catching it, throwing it. And, most important, hearing that crack off the bat of a well hit ball. Our baseball heroes of the past played baseball and and we loved it.
Well, welcome back to hardball. You can play Eagle Ball with a baseball. The ball goes faster and further, but is not unsafe. When running to first you probably want to watch the infielder for an errant throw that might hit your head. Otherwise, a baseball will work just fine.
Scoring and Outs
There are many options for scoring or outs. For example, you can beat the entire lineup regardless of outs. Or, you could say the inning is over when you make a third out.
In the basic game there are 2 possible results of a stuck ball: one run or an out. But, you could play for extra bases. If the batter makes it to 2nd base his team gets 2 points, 3rd base for 3 points and home for 4 points. If you are playing extra bases, you may consider an overthrow rule. If the throw beats the runner to the bag, but the runner is safe due to an overthrow or dropped catch, the batter cannot advance to the next base. No little league homers here.
If you have two teams that are nowhere near equal in skill, you can handicap the by altering the field as above. For example, you could move the right side foul line half toward first when the weak team is hitting. The field does not need to be equal.
Some people cannot toss up a ball and hit it. You can allow them to hit off a t-ball stand.
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