Covering fly balls

Properly covering fly balls is an important part of a base umpire’s responsibilities. The decision to cover the fly ball and the proper mechanics can be very different depending on whether the crew is working the 2-umpire or the 3-umpire system. Because of this, the articles for covering fly balls are posted in this Mechanics Corner in the appropriate sub-categories:

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Notes from the Training Staff – September 2020

From our Chairperson, Rich Kollen: Our world sure has changed since March due to COVID-19. It has affected sports at all levels. We lost the 2020 collegiate softball season as well as all summer tournaments and games. Opportunities for student athletes to be evaluated by college coaches for scholarships were lost. As I write this, we are still in limbo,

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CCSUA Fall Clinic 2020 handout

Use this handout as you are watching the videos for the 2020 Fall Clinic. When you select the link below, it will open the handout in a new tab. View PDF

Infield Fly and Intentional Drop Rules

The infield fly rule is not often invoked during a game. The intentional drop call is even more rare. There are many considerations for both of these, and they can become controversial when they are called. Infield Fly The infield fly rule is in effect only when there are fewer than two outs with either runners on 1b and 2b,

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Left-handed catchers

From Referee Magazine, September 2020 Most softball catchers are right-handed, but it sometimes seems left-handed catchers are more frequent than in the past. The strike zone does not change, but a few tips on the mechanics of working behind a left-handed catcher is helpful. Watch warmup pitches Umpires should do this for each half-inning of the first inning regardless of

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Notes from the Training Staff – August 2020

There have been many changes and updates to the CCSUA Locker Room since our last posting of the Notes from the Training Staff – July. Thanks to the members of the Training Staff who have helped with a complete review of the articles and videos on the Locker Room – Dan Cowan, Mark Craver, Lyle Dove, Tony Garcia, Bob McElroy,

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Obstruction Call Mechanics

Preparing for the obstruction call Obstruction is one of the toughest calls to make during a game. The entire crew must prepare for this by including it as a topic during all umpire pre-games and as part of their pre-pitch preparation, especially with runners on base. On every play, especially tag plays, be watching for obstruction during all phases of

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Discontinuing a pitch/Stepping off pitcher’s plate

The rules The change in pitching rule 10.2.1.2 for the 2020-2021 Rule Book (stride foot not being able to step back once it is initially set) has ramifications for rule 10.11 – Discontinuing a Pitch/Stepping off the Pitcher’s Plate. The wording in the current rules make it technically impossible to properly discontinue a pitch. (Note: all references in this article

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Mechanics for Illegal Pitch Calls

Responsibilities Calling illegal pitches is an important duty for both the plate and base umpires. In previous years, it was mostly the responsibility of the plate umpire to call illegal pitches for violations involving the pitcher’s preliminary procedures, and the base umpires to call any violations during the step/stride and delivery. The old saying – plate umpire has the hands;

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Illegal pitch – Rules and Options

Calling an illegal pitch is the responsibility of every umpire on the field. It requires a good knowledge of the rules governing this violation, using the correct mechanics, and administering the ruling which may involve explaining the options for the violation. The articles for correct mechanics and administering the rule can be found in the Mechanics and Game Management sections

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Runner Interference

Because of the complexity of the interference rule and also due to the usually highly intensive argument that the interference call elicits, the Locker Room has multiple articles covering the different types of interference. This article will focus on interference by an active runner (excluding the batter-runner). The other articles which cover interference, all of which are in this same

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Interference by Retired Runner

Because of the complexity of the interference rule and also due to the usually highly intensive argument that the interference elicits, the Locker Room has multiple articles covering the different types of interference. This article will discuss retired runner interference. Interference by a retired runner does not happen often but when it does the effect is serious – the runner

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Offensive Team Personnel/Equipment Interference

 Offensive Team Personnel Interference Another type of uncommon interference is by offensive team personnel. Who, exactly, are included as offensive team personnel for this rule? We have covered two examples above – a retired runner and a runner who has scored; it also includes all other offensive team personnel who are not the on-deck batter or active runners. Base coaches

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Managing Trick Plays

Deception is part of every sport and softball is no different in that regard. Clever coaches constantly think of ways to fool opponents and it sometimes takes a few years for rules makers to shut it down. We need to be ready for these plays and judge whether they violate a rule or not. If they do not violate any

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Notes from the Training Staff – July 2020

From the Assignors If you have seen that you are not getting Arbiter mass emails from Assignors, you need to change a setting in your Arbiter within the Group you are in. So, if you belong to multiple Arbiter Sports Groups, you need to go into each one and fix the ALERT SETTINGS. Click on PROFILE…Click on PREFERENCES…. Look at

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The College Strike Zone

Still the same and still a Focus Item The college softball strike zone has not changed for a long time; it is still the zone explicitly described in rule 11.3.1 and in the diagrams on pages 106 and 107 in the NCAA rule book. For the last few years, the strike zone has remained  an “In Focus” item in the

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Managing Arguments Effectively

This article includes excerpts from Referee publication No Argument. One of the biggest factors which separate the top college umpires is their ability to manage a game. College coaches, in general, have a more active role in the game because, for most of them, this is their livelihood, their job/career. Their longevity in that job can depend on the success

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Retired Batter Interference

Retired batter interference occurs when she is declared out without becoming a batter-runner. If after striking out, while still in the batter’s box, the retired batter interferes with a defensive player’s opportunity to make a play on a runner.Effect: Dead ball. The runner being played on is out. All other runners return to the base at the time of the

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Do You Protect the Batter or Catcher?

From Referee.com, March 9, 2018 A few situations come up over the years that may leave you wondering whom to protect — batter or catcher?  Is it catcher obstruction?  Or batter interference?  Or a collision?  Having a firm grasp on whom to protect will allow you to make the calls and explain to questioning coaches. Protecting the catcher A left-handed

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Batter/Bat Hitting the Ball a Second Time

The batter swings at the pitch and while the bat is still in the batter’s hands, the batted ball bounces back into the bat.  Or…the batted ball rolls on the ground near the plate area and the discarded bat contacts the batted ball.  These are not unusual plays during a typical game and the plate umpire must be ready to

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Batted ball hits batter

Here is a play that happens once in a while and sometimes causes a discussion among umpires – a batted ball contacts the batter who is not completely out of the batter’s box. Specifically: the batter bunts or swings at a pitch; the batted ball hits the dirt or plate; then the ball bounces up and contacts the batter before

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The batter is entitled to one unobstructed swing at each pitch

The batter swings and misses the change-up; however, on her follow-through she contacts the ball which rolls into fair territory. Dead ball strike; runners must return. If the contact is judged intentional the batter is declared out. Play: Runner on second base with two outs. The catcher catches a swinging third strike, but the pitch is high and inside bringing

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Check Swings

A rule change, effective with the 2020-2021 rule book, was made with regard to “if the defense requests help on a check swing, the plate umpire is required by rule to ask for help. If anyone else, on either offense or defense, asks for help, the umpire may (but is not required) to ask for help.” Check swings can be

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Hit-by-Pitch Detection

Taken from Referee Magazine, March 2019 Determining whether a batter was hit by a pitch can sometimes be a challenge for the plate umpire. Sometimes an umpire will have to rely solely on circumstantial evidence. Here are some of the criteria and types of circumstantial evidence an umpire can use to handle those situations. The batter’s reaction If the batter

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The Hands Are NOT Part of the Bat

Over the years many myths have developed around the game of softball. One of these is – “the hands are part of the bat.” NO, the hands are NOT part of the bat. Although this myth is an old one, most umpires are aware this is not true, yet we still sometimes hear it from coaches or spectators. Think about

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Obstruction Rules

The obstruction call can be one of the most controversial calls in a game and requires college umpires to have a thorough knowledge of the rules related to this call. An obstruction call can change the complexity and even the outcome of a game, as it has the potential to award bases which may result in game-winning runs to score.

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Obstruction – Warnings, Additional Awards and Ejection

The obstruction rule in college softball is more complicated than in any other code. Obstruction in all softball codes involve the effect/penalty of base awards for the obstructed runner and any other runners affected by the obstruction. When obstruction is committed in a college softball game, there is the possibility of additional effects involving warnings, additional one-base awards after a

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Obstruction between bases

Obstruction often happens when the runner is between two bases. It can happen when a runner is advancing normally to the next base, is rounding a base, getting caught in a rundown, on a pickoff attempt, or returning to a base after a caught fly ball. This article will discuss only the parts of the obstruction rule which cover the

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Verbal and Visual obstruction

The college rule book states that there does not need to be physical conduct for an obstruction call. Visual obstruction is specifically cited in three rules. The rule book is not as clear with respect to verbal obstruction, as there is no specific rule which specifically lists this as a form of obstruction. There is one interference rule and one

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Team Interference – Home Run Celebration

Introduction Team interference can happen during either a live ball or dead ball. Interference during a live ball is discussed in a separate article on this Locker Room (Interference by Retired Runner, Offensive Team or Loose Offensive Equipment). This article will cover offensive team interference during a dead ball. award. The rules for this are often referred to as the

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Collisions

Be ready to make this call The NCAA has added to the rule book additional wording and emphasis on collisions with the intent to encourage players to avoid them whenever possible. This puts additional pressure on umpires, as we now need to judge whether a collision was avoidable, intentional, malicious, obstruction, interference, or some combination of these. Collisions can happen

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Batter-Runner and BR Interference

Batter-Runner The batter transitions from batter to BR when she no longer has either foot in the batter’s box after contacting a pitch: • After a legally batted fair ball that is not blocked. • Because of a dropped third strike • When a fair batted ball unavoidably strikes a base runner (not in contact with a base) or an

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Batter-runner Regulations for the Look-back Rule

Batter-runner and the Look-back rule This rule is not in effect until the batter-runner has reached first base or has been declared out, whichever occurs first, AND the pitcher has possession of the ball in the pitcher’s circle. It is critically important to know when the batter runner has touched first base on a live ball. Here is an example

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The College Softball Playing Field

The college softball playing field is similar to the playing field for other softball organizations. The following is a summary of the requirements which may be different. See the rule book for the details. Basic layout The basic layout is the same with these exceptions: • If artificial turf is used, the recommendation is that the outfield portion be green

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Field Requirements 2016-2021

The below chart is an informative listing of the changes to the college softball field over the last few years. The only thing that has been added with the 2020-2021 Rule Book applies to the foul pole – prohibits attachments (e.g., screening, flags, pennants, etc.) from being added to the foul side of the pole. Rationale: The foul pole may

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Required Equipment

It is often stated that a concise summary of the responsibilities of umpires is to ensure that the game is played safely and fairly. To keep the student-athletes safe, we must have a good understanding of the rules covering equipment. As stated in the introduction to the Equipment rule – only equipment that meets the specifications written in the NCAA

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Optional Protective Equipment

Optional protective equipment includes those items not required by rule but worn or used by personal choice. In all cases, they must be worn or used as intended by the manufacturer. Braces/casts/elbow guards/splints These items may be worn as long as the equipment is well-padded to protect not only the affected player, but also her opponents. If it has exposed

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Uniform regulations

The NCAA is more conscientious than other codes with regard to the rules covering the players’ uniforms. There is more emphasis on the appearance of players during a game because it wants to project a more professional image for its student-athletes. The college uniform rule can be categorized into three parts – official uniform, accessories, and inclement weather apparel. This

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College softball lineup requirements

The lineup card requirements are explained in rule 5.7 of the NCAA Softball Rules Book (2020-2021). It must list all eligible players and the starting offensive players in the order in which they are to bat (batting order). The lineup card becomes official when it is reviewed and accepted by the plate umpire at the pregame meeting. Once it is

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Batting cage use during the game

Some teams have been observed using their batting cages during and game and on some occasions the opposing coach has brought this to the attention of the umpires. We have received a rule interpretation from the NCAA Softball Rules Editor about this: Ruling:”There is nothing in the rules addressing batting cage activities during a game because the committee believes it

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6.5.3 Interpretation – Personnel during live ball

This interpretation was posted on 4/30/19: The offensive team:6.5.3 Must keep all personnel, except the base coaches, batter, baserunner(s) and on-deck batter, in the dugout, bullpen or dead-ballarea while the ball is live.EFFECT: The umpire shall warn the violator(s), and if the violator(s) does not immediately comply, the umpire should eject him or her. (Administrative ejection; see Rule 13.2.1) Interpretation:

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DP/Flex

For this entire discussion it is assumed that the team starts with the DP/Flex option. To better understand the DP/Flex rule, you must understand these basic concepts: o The DP and Flex are spots in the lineup card, occupied at at specific time by a player. o Do not confuse the DP spot with the player who is acting currently

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Inaccurate Lineup and Unreported/Misreported Players

NCAA has a significant difference in its rules for inaccurate lineup and unreported/misreported players. It is important that college umpires study and understand these rules. To start with, NCAA rules use a phrase which is not found in other rule books – inaccurate lineup. It also differs with the terms used for a substitution which is not reported – most

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Projected Substitutions

The rule that deals with projected substitutions was changed in the 2018-2019 rule book. The new wording now allows substitutes to be reported to the umpire without being required to immediately participate in the game. The rationale and intent of this new wording changes two situations which in the past were considered projected substitutions, but now are not considered projected

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Major Mechanics Differences for College vs Other codes

All umpires Force play and tag plays Force – no closer than 18’ from base or plate; work for a 90° angle to the throw. For base umpires at first base, stay within a 30° to 50° angle to the base. Tag plays – Get into a position to see the path of the of the runner into the base

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Rehearse Fundamental Mechanics

Excerpts from Referee.com July 25, 2018 Umpires can develop healthy habits that have nothing to do with streamlining their diet or counting calories. Many sports have repeated practices or habits that you can rehearse in preparation for games. Here are some tips to help you learn good habits and ways to practice the practices — if not to make them

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Holding area/holding zone (includes Point of Plate

The correct term for college is holding area, not holding zone.  However, the word “zone” is still used a few times in the CCA Manual; this is an oversight.  A holding area is most often used by the plate umpire only; with the only exception – in a 3-umpire system and U1 rotates to the plate.  Here are the holding

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College Signals Summary

If you have read the article on this Locker Room, titled Major Mechanics Differences for College vs Other codes, you know that even our signals are slightly different and more detailed than other codes. This is true for both the standard signals and the umpire-to-umpire signals. Here is a quick summary of the college softball signals. Following this summary are

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Signals – Room for Individualism?

Excerpts from Referee Magazine article, 2012 In the old days, style and flair in officiating was easy to recognize. It was prevalent in a lot of games. Today, most assigners want officials to use “by-the-book” signals and mechanics. While personality has been shoved to the background, is there still some room for it?  Is there room for some individualism? For

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Sweeping the Plates or Bases (Lost Mechanic)

Over the past years the CCA Manual, the “mechanics manual” for college softball, has removed some sections which had good information covering a number of topics which are still valid college mechanics. They may have been removed because of editing and attempts to make the Manual shorter. This is one of them. Sweeping should only be done as necessary, not

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Check Swings (Lost Mechanic)

The check swing has been a topic of importance for the SUP for a long time and umpires are strongly encouraged to keep working on the mechanics of ruling on a check swing as they work on other parts of their game. It has been a topic in the Expanding the Manual section in 2008, 2009, and 2011; and was

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Base on Balls – Stay Alert (Lost Mechanic)

(This article is an expansion of an article written by Glenn Waggoner) One of the ways a batter becomes a batter-runner (BR) is on an award of first base after a base on balls.  The ball remains live and the BR is an active runner who may advance beyond first base.  Umpires must treat this as any other advancement by

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Mechanics for Pitcher Signal and Lane violations

Sometimes when rule changes occur or an emphasis is put on a current rule, new mechanics may also come into play. The 2020-2021 Rule Book included a change to the pitcher Taking the Signal rule. A few years ago, the pitcher’s lane was added to the line markings on the field. A few years ago, the pitcher’s lane was added

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The Mechanics for Ejections

In the beginning… The first step a crew must take when a coach approaches a crew mate after a close or controversial call is for another umpire to monitor other coaches or players so that it remains a one-on-one correspondence. Sometimes an assistant coach may tell the monitoring umpire “I want to hear what he/she has to say…” The umpire

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Hustle – what exactly does it mean?

Base umpires, whether in the 2-umpire or 3-umpire system, are responsible for almost all calls on the bases. There are times when the plate umpire takes the call at 3b, as will be explained in another article. In order to cover the bases and get a good angle and distance to the play, base umpires must hustle. The term “hustle”

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Mechanics for the Force Play at First Base

Other articles on this Locker Room discuss the mechanics for positioning by the base umpire for play calls on the bases. This article will go into more detail for the quite common play – positioning for the force play at first base. Also read the companion articles, Starting Positions for the 2-Umpire System and Selecting a Starting Position, 3-Umpire System.

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Reading the Play, Primary Position and Adjusting to the Play

Umpires should be endeavoring, at all times, to get the call right. We are expected and mandated to do so. A key factor for getting the call right is to be in the best position possible to see the play. Here are some thoughts on base positioning and getting the call right. Reading the Play Reading a play to determine

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Mechanic for Plate Umpire after Batter Hit by Pitch (Lost Mechanic)

A good mechanic which must be used whenever a batter is hit with a pitch –get your mask off, come out quickly from behind the plate and get between the batter going to first and the circle. You must still use this mechanic as a good preventive umpiring technique even if it is not specifically covered in the current CCA manual. The

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Tag Plays at the Plate

A tag play at the plate is among the most exciting plays in softball. The decision the umpire renders on a close play at home determines whether the run scores. Sometimes the play even decides the game. Here are a few things to consider when anticipating this play: Get the mask off early to locate the ball and the subsequent

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Adjusting to see the strike zone

Source: Referee.com April 4, 2018 When the strike zone disappears Any fast-pitch softball umpire is familiar with the slot position when working a game as the plate umpire: assuming an approved stance behind the catcher, aligned slightly inside the inside corner of the plate and outside the perimeter of the strike zone.  The rationale for this position, as explained in

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Calling Balls and Strike – Reaction Time

Here is a link to a good video from YouTube which discusses calling BALLS AND STRIKES. If the link does not work do a search in YouTube: Sport Science – Episode 5 – Out of Control – Bad Calls. The art of calling balls and strikes is basically the same for baseball and softball. While watching the video, keep in

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Tracking the Pitch

Here is a link to a video from our baseball brethren for tracking the pitch. The concepts are the same for softball. Tracking the pitch

The Myths of Calling Balls and Strikes

Do not fall into the trap of believing these myths or including them in your plate game. Start the game with a wide zone to get the batters swinging and then bring it in. NOT TRUE The strike zone can expand on the 3-0 pitch, NOT TRUE When at bat the catchers should get a tighter zone. NOT TRUE Strikes should not be

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Biases When Calling Balls and Strikes

The source for this article: What Does it Take to Call a Strike? Three Biases in Umpire Decision Making Etan Green, David P. Daniels Stanford University, Presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, March 2014 Do umpires call balls and strikes solely in response to pitch location? If seems we do not. The study referenced in the research paper

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Building Rapport with Catcher

One of the attributes of a successful plate umpire is the ability to work with catchers. This defensive player is a major factor in a team’s success while in the field. A top-notch catcher will be involved with almost every aspect of the game. One such aspect, overlooked by many catchers but very evident in the good catchers, is that

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Working with the Challenging Catcher

Not every game affords the luxury of working with a good catcher. What does a plate umpire do when the game unfolds with a cantankerous battery-mate, or one who is oblivious to the finer points of working successfully with a plate umpire? Catcher sets up blocking the slotThe umpire must see the pitch from the time it leaves the pitcher’s

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Selecting a Starting Position, 3-Umpire System

Selecting a starting position is more than reading the CCA Manual and adhering to its mechanics.  The Manual indicates general areas and distances from which base umpires may choose their starting position.  This article will discuss guidelines so base umpires in the 3-umpire system will select the best starting positon for the most likely scenarios. Starting on the line When

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U3 Starting Position When Rotated

There are multiple good reasons for offering the optional position for U3 when rotated. It was discussed originally so that U3 would be closer to the point of the base and therefore easier to use the wedge mechanic when R1 is probably going to steal. Other advantages have developed from this: • It will be easier to get into a

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Freedom for U3

This important mechanic was introduced in 2009 and expands on the philosophy “Never Waste an Umpire.” It is a specific mechanic for a specific situation: Runner on 2b only, or runners on 2b and 3b Ball is hit to the outfield and no umpire chases When R2 is at least halfway home and the ball is still in the outfield:

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Covering fly balls in a 3-umpire system

Covering Concepts Covering fly balls is an important responsibility for base umpires in both the 2-umpire and 3-umpire systems. It can be a challenging mechanic for all umpires, especially for umpires who have not done it a lot. It takes good pre-pitch preparation and knowing where the outfielders are positioned to make good decisions on covering fly balls. The plate

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Real Plays, Legitimate Deviations

The CCA manual is a very thorough document, but like any umpire manual, it cannot cover every possible play that might happen on a softball field. Strange plays and unusual situations will occur; the college softball umpire must be a thinking umpire, ready to adjust to anything that might happen on the field. Per page 45 in the 2013 CCA

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CCA Manual Two-Umpire Summary

ESSENTIAL CONCEPTS Angle/distance – Force: no closer than 18’ (1b 30-50 degrees), Tag 3’ to 10’ Work ahead of the play; commitment to the play Keep the elements of the play in front – Primary position, secondary position Adjust to the individual play Efficient movement Pre-pitch preparation – Runners, outs, chasing, hit to outfield, hit to infield Body language Signals

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Starting Positions for the 2-Umpire System

Selecting a starting position is more than reading the CCA Manual and adhering to its mechanics. The Manual indicates general areas and distances from which base umpires may choose their starting position. This article will discuss guidelines so base umpires in the 2-umpire system will select the best starting positon for the most likely scenarios. STARTING ON THE LINE When

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Covering fly balls in a 2-umpire system

Covering basics Covering fly balls is an important responsibility for base umpires in both the 2-umpire and 3-umpire systems. It can be a challenging mechanic for all umpires, especially for umpires who have not done it a lot. It takes good pre-pitch preparation and knowing where the outfielders are positioned to make good decisions on covering fly balls. The plate

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Judgment Calls and Arguments

You should also read the companion article: Misconduct – Questioning Strike Zone or Umpire’s Judgment. As stated in that companion article: A rule change in the 2016-2017 NCAA Rule Book, and a Point of Emphasis that year, states that coaches should not be allowed on the field to question judgment calls. These questions disrupt the flow of the game and

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Handling Situations (by Anthony Garcia)

• You make a call on a hard hit down the line and you know without a doubt that you got it correct. You were in position, saw the whole thing with the correct angle and distance, had good timing, and ‘sold’ the call well but here comes the coach.• 1. First thing that usually hits your mind while he’s

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