If you are a sports fan, you are more likely to observe more than one type closely. As a fan of multiple sports, I have wondered how specific terms are common in them but have different impacts. One of them is a utility player, which is common in baseball, softball, ice hockey, rugby, and water polo.
A utility player in softball is a person who is competent to play multiple positions. The player is allowed to enter at different levels or positions of a game and apply the defensive strategy.
Why do teams focus on having utility players? Are they any good? Let us understand better their roles in this article.
Role of a Utility Player
A utility player plays a vital part in switching between roles and staying in a defensive position to handle the game tactically. The practice must start at the little league and then progress to subsequent levels as this approach enhances value and efficiency over time.
Another advantage the utility player faces is being cautious and aware of subsequent moves. As utility players have played multiple positions, they can know what to expect in the infield and outfield.
A player in college softball with the potential to play multiple positions is termed a utility player. Utility players at this level rapidly progress to the professional tournament due to their age, positions, and experience.
In an ESPN video, two evaluators pick their favorite and best utility players at the college softball level. Amanda Scarborough believes that a utility player is ideally a pitcher with the potential to hit. Some notable utility players at the college softball level are Lauren Haeger, Rachel Garcia, and Amanda Freed.
These players ace their skills and advance teams with their functional abilities. Out of the three listed, Lauren Haeger tops the list. On the other hand, Jessica Mendoza picked Rachel Garcia due to her pitching abilities.
A competent player handling multiple positions and holding expertise in fast pitches turns into a utility player. In this form, the pitcher can rotate the arm 360 degrees and know when to release the ball.
A fastpitch softball requires players to utilize a 177g-ball with a circumference of 30 cms. Perhaps, when the league has a utility player who is good at fastpitch softball, he becomes the most significant asset and the most gifted in the team. Such players can exceed relevant benchmarks and offer value to the team due to a wide range of skills.
Is It Good to Be a Utility Player In Softball?
Utility players are capable pitchers, but there is a problem with their expertise levels. Versatility is good, but a lack of mastery in every position affects the performance.
In an article by Snap Softball that discusses mistakes with positions, the author highlights how shuttling between positions without holding expertise can turn into a bottleneck. In softball, utility players have the advantage of playing in fascinating positions. This reduces their burnout. However, some players play multiple positions without understanding their demands. In that case, it signifies the need to enhance the skills needed for every position.
Several softball players consider utility players as assets. This take is undeniable provided they are equipped and thorough on the skills and requirements.
Another common issue facing utility players is with credits. Most of them do not get the deserved recognition. Perhaps, such players come on the field and play from their positions mainly to rescue the team from losing the game. This can look like a little switch to balance the scenario. However, the player takes a defensive position and calms managers from worrying about outcomes.
From the audience’s perspective, it can appear like a normal transition from one player to another to keep the scene going. However, from the utility player’s perspective, it is essential to boost their roles. The manager is responsible for appropriately positioning the player and giving them the rest whenever required.
Are Utility players In Good Hitters?
A utility player is a good hitter but focuses more on taking over various defense positions. Utility players cannot overtake professional hitters as the latter are known for offense moves.
If utility players are not great hitters, why do teams still take them in? What purpose do they add? Teams engage utility players to tackle situations demanding defense moves. Further, such players can protect the team and apply many skills.
It is common to regard utility players as good hitters and pitchers. Fundamentally, they focus on skills that can improve performance and position the team.
Skills of a Utility Player
A utility player is a multifaceted player who strives toward advancing the team’s position and is competent at a given position.
Some of the significant skills of a utility player are –
- Utility players are highly reliable as they can manage multiple positions and are brighter than the rest of the crowd. It is a position revolving around trust.
- As they can easily knock out the opponent with their tactical skills, they are valuable, and teams prioritize having a handful of utility players.
- Utility players need to be fast learners so they can master even tiny aspects of the game at a quicker pace. They need to learn and master exact moves to upgrade the game as they move from offensive to defensive positions.
- Situational awareness and leadership are other skills expected from a utility player. If the player compromises on the leadership element, it can take a toll on the performance.
- Such players should also display constructive thoughts, work ethics, and a positive mindset that can contribute to game longevity. Constructive ideas allow players to plan positive strategies in conflict scenarios.
The skills of a utility player in softball are never-ending. It is challenging to sustain as a utility player, but this is also an added advantage to communicating with others and building excellent relationships with industry professionals and the best athletes.
When the player withstands a progressive mindset, it helps him progress towards perfection and a road of achievement. Such players are most sought out in softball and other fantasy leagues, where players can display their competencies in multiple aspects.
Utility Players In Other Games?
Utility players are critical in various games, including baseball, rugby, and ice hockey. While they look at taking different positions, they have specific roles based on the nature of the sport.
For instance, baseball teams contain two utility players for infield and outfield positions. Some players play the roles of both. In youth baseball, there is one more form of a utility player who is as good as a position player and a pitcher.
When you consider basketball, positions like forward-center, point forward, and combo guard are critical positions to be considered by utility players. When the player can efficiently handle these positions, he adds as an asset.
In rugby, a utility player has specific duties. It turns out to be a broad role when the player can restrict only to forward or backward positions. When a player plays several positions, he can quickly advance his career. Utility back is the term used in New Zealand among rugby unions.
Utility players in football work similarly to softball as they handle offense and defense positions. Various teams paid adequate attention to picking players that could stay on the field longer.
There is huge scope for utility players in a wide range of sports, including softball. Their outstanding skills and roles act as value additions to the game.
Related: What Is OPS In Softball?
My Favorite Softball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here are my top softball equipment recommendations that I think will take your game to the next level.
- Bat: My favorite certified fastpitch softball bat is the Easton Ghost. This bat has a double-barrel construction which is incredible if you are looking for a great feel and are a fan of satisfying pop and sound. The handle is a great bonus as it’s great to hold on to and very thin. The technology used for this bat provides great durability and flexibility. This bat comes in various styles and sizes.
- Softball: The best softballs, in my opinion, are the Franklin Sports Official Softballs. These affordable yet official featured balls are perfect for practice if you want to train with a similar ball as in a real game. These balls have the official 12-inch circumference and weight. The yellow color makes it easy to spot, and the flat seams enable minimal air resistance so that they will fly consistently and far.
- Glove: Rawlings Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Glove should be introduced to every softball player. The 12.5″ size makes it a breeze to catch and secure softballs. The glove is very comfortable as it’s made from full-grain leather, and the pull-staps will perfect the fit. The design is breathtaking as well. Be prepared for a little break-in time tho.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.