The Base Path
Most people think that a base path is a straight line between the bases. However, a base path is actually the path established by the runner. If the runner starts a straight line from first to second, she must remain in that straight line. If the runner makes a big arch rounding first, then that arch is the base path. In other words, if I run to the top of the arch and am about to be tagged out, I cannot leave the arch to avoid a tag without being outside the base path.
You may ask, why would I make a point of this. The answer is this. We practice, both offensively and defensively, everyday what to do when runners are at first and third. If my team is on offense and I have a runner at third base and a runner at first, I may attempt to have my first base runner lure the defense into a pickle situation at the top of an arch path between first and second while my runner at third base is off the bag in foul territory waiting for the opportunity to steal home.
Let me give you my typical example of this. I have a runner at third with no outs and the batter walks. On my team, if a batter walks, she better know she has just taken ball four and she better drop the bat and run to first as fast as she can without making a big scene about it and watching the first base coach for direction. I can’t tell you how many times in this situation I have given the batter runner the signal to proceed full speed to the top of the arch and slam on brakes to try and lure a play. If you are playing an inexperienced team they will often bite at the opportunity to get that runner out, while you are stealing a run at home. And I can’t tell you how many times we have gotten the run and the runner beat out the pickle to stay safe.
This will only work if your practice these situations regularly and routinely. A team that doesn’t practice first and third situations every day is at a distinct disadvantage to a team that does practice those situations.