Bunting Lessons from Beijing

bunt bunting lessons Beijing Olympic Games USA Japan

It’s easy to love to hit the ball, and the better you hit it the more you love it. That’s why players love to take batting practice.

But somewhere along the line bunting has lost it’s value both in practices and in games yet when a game matters most, when a season – or an Olympic Games – is on the line it’s bunting that usually makes the difference!

The postponed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are now scheduled to take place July 23-August 8, 2021. In hope that the Olympics will be able to come off this year, that got me to thinking of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which featured one of the greatest hitting and pitching teams in softball history – the 2008 US Olympic Softball Team. Even with such incredible talent, Team USA was denied the Gold Medal. Losing to Japan 3-1 in the Gold Medal Game. Japan took home the gold living and dying almost exclusively with the Bunt.

Here’s a recap of how the 2008 Olympic softball competition played out:

  • Bronze Medal Game, Japan vs. Australia: The game is tied after 7 innings and ends up going 12 innings before Japan ultimately prevails. Australia had tons of chances to beat Japan in the tie-breaker – BUT THEY COULDN’T BUNT! They could pitch and they could hit but they couldn’t get a bunt down to move their runner over to 3rd. Just imagine how different the Gold Medal game might have been if Australia could have managed to bunt!
  • Gold Medal Game, Japan vs USA: Japan scores a run on singles and then the USA and Japan trade homeruns, so the game goes into the 7th inning with Japan ahead 2-1. That’s certainly nothing that the USA can’t overcome with the powerful hitters they have. Japan leads off the top of the 7th with a single. The next batter BUNTS to advance the runner to 2nd, but the throw is off line to 1st so runners are now at 1st and 2nd.. The next hitter grounds out advancing the runners to 2nd and 3rd. The next batters hits back to pitcher Monica Abbott, whose throw to catcher Stacey Nuveman is off target, so Japan goes up 3-1. That’s a HUGE difference going into the bottom of the 7th – and as we know, Japan held the lead and won the Gold Medal.

Bunting isn’t always necessary. When you can hit the opposing pitcher there’s no reason to give up an out to move a runner 60 feet. But, in the toughest games, against the best pitchers, when everything is at stake – BUNTING MATTERS!

So here are some great bunting drills and other resources to help ensure the next time everything’s on the line and you MUST get a bunt down, that your team comes through and wins the game!

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