Video review was successfully experimented with during the 2019 and 2021 softball seasons. NCAA will now allow video review for all games; it is not mandatory. This is one of the major rule changes for 2022-2023. Rule 5.9.9 and Appendix G have the details for this new rule. This article is a summary of the key components of video review.
In games using video review, each head coach has two challenges to initiate a review of the plays designated below for the entirety of the game. The challenge must be indicated before the next pitch, before the pitcher and all infielders have clearly vacated their normal fielding position and left fair territory, or before the umpires have left the field of play. Additionally, the crew chief may initiate a review of these plays at his/her discretion beginning with the 6th inning in any game.
The following are the plays that shall be subject to review:
1. Regarding batted balls (any ball higher than the top of the foul pole when it leaves the field cannot have that aspect reviewed):
a. Deciding if a batted ball called fair is fair or foul.
b. Deciding if a batted ball called foul should be a ground rule double, home run, or hit-by-pitch.
c. Deciding if a batted ball called fair and ruled not to have left the field of play did leave the field.
2. Regarding pitched balls at the plate:
a. Deciding if a pitch ruled a dropped third strike was caught before the ball touched the ground.
b. Deciding whether a live or dead ball should be changed to a foul ball.
c. Deciding whether a foul ball should be changed to a foul tip only with no base runners, or if it would
result in a 3rd out.
d. Deciding whether a batter is entitled to an award of first base per Hit Batter (by Pitch) Rule 11.13.
3. Spectator interference.
4. Obstruction and interference (including collisions).
5. Deciding if malicious/flagrant contact occurred. Umpires may initiate this review without requiring a
coach’s challenge at any point in the game to ensure student-athlete safety.
6. Timing plays (deciding whether the base runner scored ahead of a third out).
7. Force/Tag Play Calls: Plays involving all runners acquiring the base before the defensive player’s attempt to put the runner out at any base.
8. Blocked or dead ball/Placement of Runners: Deciding whether a ball not ruled blocked should be ruled blocked, and the proper placement of runners (per the rules/case book) after any blocked or dead ball call.
9. With no base runners, a no catch can be changed to a catch at any time. With runners on base, a no catch can be changed to a catch only if it results in a 3rd out.
Criteria for using video review:
1. All equipment should be tested by appropriate personnel before each game.
2. A ruling on the field will only be changed if there is indisputable video evidence to reverse the call. Absent that evidence, the original ruling on the field will stand.
3. A review must be verbally or visually indicated before the next pitch, before the pitcher and all infielders have clearly vacated their normal fielding position and left fair territory, or the umpires leave the field of play.
4. Coaches have 30 seconds to verbally or visually lodge a challenge.
5. The video review may be conducted on-site by the crew chief or by an off-field official at a centralized
video review location.
6. If video review is conducted on-site by the crew chief, the video review area shall not require an umpire to walk through spectators or dugouts to view the coverage. At least one umpire must remain on the field.
7. During the video review, the defensive team shall maintain their position on the field and may warm-up if desired. Offensive base runners and the on-deck hitter shall maintain their position. Other personnel shall remain in the dugout. Any defensive or offensive conferences will be charged as during any other part of the game.
After the review is completed
The crew chief will communicate the ruling to both head coaches and the official scorer using the following criteria. This should also be communicated to the broadcasting booth, if applicable, via the umpire who has a microphone.
a. Ruling on the field is confirmed;
b. Ruling on the field is reversed; or
c. Ruling stands due to no indisputable evidence to reverse it.
If the reversing of a call results in the need for decisions on the placement of base runners, the crew chief shall use his/her best judgment and/or the appropriate rule to determine where to place the runners as if the call had been made correctly. The final decision may not be argued by either coach. A coach who argues the final decision shall be immediately ejected.