What Is A Grand Slam In Softball? (Answered In Detail!)
Softball is a beautiful and thrilling game, often delivering the excitement rarely seen in other sports.
However, for outsiders, softball can often seem a bit confusing.
The way softball players score points and how the winner of the softball game is decided is vastly different from other major sports, except for baseball.
Even when they grasp some of the basic concepts, such as home runs, newbies sometimes have trouble understanding why a team can be awarded a different number of points after such a play.
It can be on two, three, or, rarely, the most valuable score – four points.
When a softball team scores four points, the maximum on any play, it’s called the grand slam.
It’s a term you may know from some other sports, where it also marks some ultimate achievement.
But, what is a grand slam in softball and how is it achieved?
What is a Grand Slam in Softball?
In softball, the grand slam happens when a player hits a home run with the bases loaded or when all bases are occupied.
This means that at the moment when the batter hit a home run, there were runners on each base – the first, second, and third.
As there are three runners on the bases, plus the batter, the team that scores a grand slam is awarded four runs.
What’s the Difference Between the Grand Slam and the Home Run?
It’s important to understand that every grand slam is a home run, while not every home run is a grand slam.
A regular home run, which doesn’t count as a grand slam, can have nobody or up to two runners on bases, scoring between 1 and 3 runs accordingly.
These are called solo, two-run, and three-run home runs. The RBIs awarded work the same way.
On the other hand, for a home run to be a grand slam, as I already explained, there must be three runners on bases.
Is Grand Slam Rare in Softball?
Grand slams are a very rare occurrence at softball games.
When we take into account all it takes for a home run to be a grand slam, it’s understandable why they don’t happen more often during games.
For starters, the situations, where all the bases are loaded are scarce by themselves, let alone making use of it and hitting a home run.
Of course, this only increases their value and makes the batter’s achievement even greater.
The fact that best describes how rare the grand slams are is that there were only 12 of them in the NCAA Women’s College World Series since 1982 when it was first played.
Furthermore, 11 of them were scored after 2009, so in the first 27 years of the biggest event in softball, there was only one Grand Slam.
How Important is Grand Slam in Softball?
When it comes to performance at the plate, the grand slam is the batter’s ultimate achievement.
More often than not, hitting a grand slam delivers the victory for the team that scored it.
As softball games are often decided by the tiniest of margins, it’s easy to see how scoring four points on one play can swing the whole game.
As for the individual stats, when a batter nails a grand slam, they’re credited with 4 RBIs (runs batted in), one for themselves and one for each of the runners currently occupying the bases.
What is the “Inside the Park” Grand Slam?
In most cases, home runs are scored when a batter hits the ball over the fence and can easily run across all the bases without a need to rush, as, obviously, fielders can’t get to the ball.
Therefore, grand slams also occur when the softball is hit over the fence. However, inside the park grand slams also can happen but are much rarer.
The main reason for this is that, of course, it requires tremendous speed from the batter as he runs around the bases and a little bit of luck, like the weird bounce off the wall.
Depending on how quickly fielders react, a batter may have only a couple of seconds to make the run.
Considering that there are 60 feet between bases in softball, this means that the batter has to run 240 feet, plus the extra distance as they round the bases, to make the home run.
What is a Walk-Off Grand Slam?
The already special feat of hitting a grand slam is even more exceptional when it’s a walk-off grand slam.
A walk-off grand slam happens when the home run with all bases loaded is hit in the bottom of the ninth inning when the home team is on the offense.
If the four points scored (or less for a regular home run) exceed the lead the away team currently holds, the home team doesn’t have to play the whole inning.
Instead, they can leave the field immediately, or “walk off.”
Why is it Called the Grand Slam?
The term “grand slam” is not exclusive to softball and is used in a couple of other sports.
Still, in each of them, it’s used to describe some sort of unlikely and fantastic achievement.
For example, in tennis grand slam is accomplished when the player wins all four major tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open) in the same year.
However, the term itself actually comes from card games. It originated in Bridge, where it’s used to refer to a player who took all the possible tricks.
Softball, like many other things, acquired the term from baseball, where it’s been in use for more than a century.
Softball is a game full of iconic, larger-than-life moments. Some plays may happen for some players only once in a lifetime and can immediately earn them a place in history books.
Grand slams certainly belong to this kind of achievements.
So many girls and boys grow up dreaming of hitting the grand slam in a big game to deliver a win to their team.
On the other hand, a grand slam is one of the most painful things that can happen to a pitcher, as it can easily mean that they blew a three-point lead.
All this makes a grand slam an extraordinary occurrence and experience for both the players and the fans who were lucky enough to witness the play.