The college rule, unlike other codes, does not require a player to be occupying the on-deck circle. If it is occupied, it is restricted to the next batter only in the circle nearest her dugout. Warmup swings may be taken with not more than two bats:
• One or two official softball bats or
• One approved warmup bat that meets specifications or
• One official bat and on approved warmup bat
The on-deck batter may leave the circle to
• Direct a teammate attempting to score
• Avoid interfering with a defensive player making a play
• Take her turn into the batter’s box
Legal position in Box
The batter must be within the batter’s box within 10 seconds after the pitcher receives the ball in preparation to pitch, when the umpire calls “play ball”, or after the umpire directs her to do so. The batter may not leave her position in the box when the pitcher is in the pitching position unless the umpire calls “time.” If the batter steps out of the box and uses any action as if requesting time, and the pitcher legally delivers the ball, it shall be called a ball or strike depending on its location.
Unlike runners who may be called out for abandoning their base, the batter must continue to bat until the completion of her at-bat. If there is a mix-up in the count and the batter leaves the box to start towards, or even goes into her dugout for any reason (thinks it is strike three, thinks the fielder caught a foul fly ball), the rules allow the batter to be called back to the batter’s box with no penalty.
The batter is entitled to one unobstructed swing at each pitch from the time it leaves the pitcher’s hand until it is completely passed home plate or is contacted by the catcher; this includes a pitch which hits the ground before reaching the plate. This seems simple enough but…a few plays to illustrate some anomalies which may occur.
Play: the batter swings and misses the change-up; however, on her follow-through she contacts the ball which rolls into fair territory.
Ruling: 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 her up and behind the batter. The batter’s swing is balanced and normal (although long) which causes contact with the catcher’s mitt (not the ball) and dislodges the ball causing it to roll away from the catcher. Is the correct ruling obstruction, dropped third strike or batter interference?
Ruling: The batter is entitled to one unobstructed swing, but only until the catcher contacts the pitch so once the pitch is touched by the catcher, the batter’s opportunity to hit the ball ended. The contact therefore is not the fault of the catcher, thus eliminating obstruction. It is not a dropped third strike as the catcher was prevented from holding on to the pitch. It is not batter’s interference as the situation says her swing was normal, indicating she did nothing to hinder the catcher. It is, however, a swinging strike and since it was her third, the batter is out.
The batter need not show intent to contact the pitch. If the bat contacts the pitch, even if it is out of the batter’s hands, or the batter is attempting to avoid a pitch, or the pitch hits the knob only, it is considered a swing. If the batted ball satisfies the fair ball rule, signal fair ball.
Set the separate article in this Rules Corner/Batting/On the Pitch section
Hit by Pitch
This is such a controversial rule with many considerations, there is a separate article for it in this Rules Corner/Batting section – Batter hit by Pitch.
Fair, Foul tip, Foul
To quickly summarize fair/foul ball – a batted ball does not become fair or foul until:
• It stops or
• Is touched by a person or other object or
• Touches or bounds over first or third base or
• Initially hits the ground past first or third base
The key factor is where the ball is at the moment it meets one of these four conditions.
See the rule book for the actions which determine whether a batted ball is fair or foul. Most of them are straight-forward but there are a few anomalies.
• Unlike other sports, the relative position of the batted ball and the foul line, not the position of the fielder, when first touched determines fair/foul.
• A batted ball near a foul line may roll foul but could become a fair ball by rolling back into fair territory before it is touched, and it remains between home plate and the base.
• A batted ball should be declared a fair ball if it bounces over the base regardless of where the ball hits beyond the base. Beyond the base is determined by the baseline between second base and first/third base; use the front of the base for this determination.
Foul tip and foul ball
A foul tip should be ruled when the ball travels sharply and directly from the bat to the catcher’s hand or glove/mitt and is legally caught unassisted by the catcher. If it hits anything else before it touches the hand for glove/mitt, it is a foul ball. If somehow after hitting anything and then is caught by any other fielder, it is a foul ball. You may wonder how this can happen, but it has. For example, on an attempted bunt the ball ricochets off the catcher’s glove, hits the knee part of her shin guard and is caught in the air by the charging first baseperson. This is a foul ball. See the Case Book for other examples.
Hits, Bunts, Slaps
There is no need to explain what a hit is. However, when there are two strikes on the batter, it is important to recognize whether the batter’s action was a bunt or a slap hit. If the batted ball becomes a foul ball
Bunt – strike three
Slap hit – foul ball
It is becoming more common for a defensive coach to argue that the batter’s action should be judged a bunt and not a slap hit, so that strike three can be assessed. Know the definitions for each of these and use the rule book language when answering the coach:
• Bunt – not swung at but intentionally tapped into the infield
• Slap hit – batted ball struck with a short, chopping motion rather than a full swing