As soon as a pitcher lets the ball go... they become the FIFTH MAN. The fifth defender.
I cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT it is to make sure that a pitcher knows how to defend their position & have the awareness to make plays. The mound is 35, 40, 43 feet away from home plate giving zero time to think... and less than a second to react. Practice makes perfect, like with all things; so take the time out of your day and get going! Reaction is key to keeping a pitcher safe, and keeping people off the bases.
DRILLS FOR ANY AGE
My favorite reaction drill? Tennis Ball Wall. Sit down (or stand) with a bucket and a wall in front of you and get to playing catch with yourself. The closer you get to the wall, the harder and faster the ball comes in.
Take reps. Ask for ground balls. Get a ton of reps in and you'll see improvement quickly. The other KEY to being a Fifth Man is having awareness. Where is the next play? What happens when I get the ball? Runner on 1? Who's covering the bunt? Knowing your infield! Those kind of questions can be game changers. Getting the answers is easy, all you have to do is ask your infield!
ASKING & KNOWING YOUR INFIELD
Just try to be in constant communication with them until you each know each others strengths & weaknesses. Not everyone is fast off the mound, but you can try!!! Give your corners a chance to get to know you and your abilities and respect their ball call as well. Remember to always put your glove up if its piped! & being a good defender... means you make the routine plays too.
Don't let the joke "she's just a pitcher" fool you... BE THE FIFTH MAN.