Breaking some bad habits that violate the rules
Over the last few seasons, the NCAA Softball Rules Committee has noticed an increase for players on some teams to be on the field during a live ball. This may happen after a successful sacrifice fly ball or bunt, an extra base hit, a good defensive play, etc. This led to them issuing an interpretation in 2019 – the offensive team must keep all personnel, except the base coaches, batter, base runner(s) and on-deck batter, in the dugout, bullpen or dead-ball area while the ball is live.
Note that only the offensive team is mentioned in the above interpretation. There is a similar rule for the defensive team and, although the wording is slightly different in the 2022-2023 rule book, the Effect is basically the same for both offensive and defensive teams.
• Offensive team violation – warn the violator and issue a team warning; if not immediate compliance eject the violator; next violation by anyone one on the warned team will result in the ejection of the head coach.
• Defensive team violation – warn the violator; if not immediate compliance eject the violator; next violation by anyone on the warned team will result in the ejection of the head coach.
Although the defensive Effect does not initially specify a team warning, the wording “…warned team” later in this Effect implies that a team warning should be issued. That is what we must do for a violation by either team.
Head coach ejection added
The 2018-2019 rule book did not include in the Effects that the head coach would be ejected for a subsequent violation. Since this situation continued to happen after the interpretation, the rules committee decided to add that stipulation in the 2020-2021 rule book and kept it in the 2022-2023 rule book. However, only the Effect for a subsequent violation by the offensive team contained the provision for ejecting the head coach. The penalty for subsequent violations by the defensive team while the ball is in play are not mentioned. Added in the 2022-2023 rule book, the Effect for the defensive team is now consistent with the Effect for the offensive team that “the next violation of this rule by anyone on the warned team will result in the ejection of the head coach.”
Umpires must use all the tools in their tool kits to avoid ejecting a head coach. If this situation arises in any of your games, make sure you are emphatic in telling the head coach…”Coach, that is a team warning for your player(s) being in live ball territory while the ball is live. The rule clearly states that for the next violation, the head coach shall be ejected.”
You need a thorough understanding of these rules for both the offensive and defensive teams. Here are the specifics of these rules.
Positions of the offensive teams while the ball is live
Must keep all personnel, except for those directly involved in the situation, in the dugout, bullpen or dead-ball area while the ball is live. These restriction also apply during stoppages of play, including conferences, pitching changes, substitution, and injuries. The underlined sentence was newly added in the 2022-2023 rule book as a clarification.
Positions of the defensive teams while the ball is in play
All personnel, except the nine defensive players on the field, must remain in the dugout, bullpen, or team area while the ball is in play and during stoppages of play, including conferences, pitching changes, substitutions and injuries. Exception: Personnel directly involved in the stoppage of play (e.g., coaches, medical personnel, substitutes, etc.) are permitted to be out of the dugout, bullpen or team area. The underlined phrases were newly added in the 2022-2023 rule book.