Batter Hit by Pitch

A batter is awarded first base when a pitch, neither swung at nor called a strike, is entirely within the batter’s box and it contacts the batter or her clothing. No attempt to avoid the pitch is required. It does not matter if the ball hits the ground before hitting the batter; it is still ruled a hit-by-pitch. A batter

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Batter Actions

On-deck Batter 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

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Interference by On-Deck batter, Batter and Retired batter

Note: The batter-runner interference article is in the Runners/Batter-Runner section of this Rules Corner. Also read these articles for more batter regulations – Batter/Bat Hitting the Ball a Second Time and Batted ball hits batter. On-Deck Batter An on-deck batter can be the interference perpetrator in a number of ways. The on-deck circles are much like the coaches’ boxes –

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 Rules

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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Illegally Batted Balls – Rules and Mechanics

The Rule A major rule change, effective with the 2018-2019 rule book, was made with regard to the batter’s legal position in the batter’s box when she makes contact with the pitch: at the moment of bat-ball contact, the batter may not contact the pitch when any part of her foot is touching the ground outside the lines of the

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Pitching Procedures Before Pitch

Pitching Position As the pitcher steps onto the pitcher’s plate with the intent to throw the next pitch, she must have her hands apart with the ball in either her glove or her pitching hand. A minor addition to the legal pitching position in 2020 – the pitcher’s hips must be in line with 1b and 3b. The plate umpire

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Substances on the Ball

There are two articles in the Locker Room, both in this section (Rules Corner/Pitching), which deal with the subjects found in rule 10.13 – Substance on the Ball/Items on the Pitcher. You should also read Items on the Pitcher. During the game Applying substances directly to the game balls during the game is prohibited. Although a few rule books use

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Items on Pitcher

There are two articles in the Locker Room, both in this section (Rules Corner/Pitching), which deal with the subjects found in rule 10.13 – Substance on the Ball/Items on the Pitcher. You should also read Substances on the Ball. Substance on pitcher’s hands or items on body Substances Drying agents, such as rosin, may be used on the pitcher’s hand/fingers.

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Abandoning a base

The rule for a batter-runner or runner abandoning a base is slightly different than other codes. From the NCAA Softball Rules Book (once the batter becomes the batter-runner she remains the BR until she is put out or all action stops): Batter-runner: considered to have abandoned a base or effort to run the bases by not proceeding to first base

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The Intent of the Rules

Some of this material taken from Umpire.com 8/13/19 When considering the rules, spirit and intent influence interpretation. It would be easier if every rule was black and white and there is no “wiggle room.” We either have a look-back rule violation or we do not. The pitch was either legal or it was not. But that is not the case.

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Pitcher Dupes Runner – Interpretation for Rule 12.14

On 11/28/18 the NCAA Softball Rules Editor released an official interpretation for Rule 12.4, and Case Book plays A.R 12-35 and A.R. 12-37. Revised Interpretation for Rule 12.14 A pitcher may not violate a pitching procedure to dupe runner(s) into leaving the base early. This act violates the spirit and intent of Rule 12.14.2 and makes a travesty of the game.

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Media Format Guidelines

Clarification 3/2/20/18: If a coach want to make a substitution(s) between innings, it must be done with enough time to allow proper recording, etc. so the half inning can begin on time. A charged conference may be used if the substitution is not made in a timely manner.

Look-back Rule

Why do we have a pitcher’s circle in softball? If you watch a Major League baseball game on TV, you will notice that the players and umpires call a lot of time-outs – almost every time a pitch hits the ground or after ball four, as well as when the ball is thrown back into the infield after a hit.

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Pitcher’s Regulations for the Look-back Rule

Pitcher’s possession of ball in circle The look-back rule comes into play after the ball has been hit and the play appears to be coming to a completion. This rule is also important in determining when a play is over 1) the ball is in the circle in the possession of the pitcher and 2) all runners, including the batter-runner,

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Runners’ Regulations for the Look-back Rule

Runners must be aware of when the pitcher has gained possession of the ball inside the circle. There is a difference in the codes with regard to the runners’ obligations: • ASA, NFHS, USSSA – if runners are moving between bases when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the circle, they may continue going toward that base, stop

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Valuable Rules for Unusual Problems

The plate umpire has the authority to make decisions on any situations not specifically covered in the rules. (15.3.4) The umpire shall not impose an effect on a team for any infractions of a rule when imposing the effect would be an advantage to the offending team. (15.2.14) The plate umpire is empowered to rectify any situations in which a

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Scoring Runs

Can you score a run after the 3rd out? Play 1: Bases loaded, two outs, batter takes ball four. R3 walks slowly to the plate as R2 aggressively advances to 3b, rounds the base and is tagged out. The out on R2 happens before R3 touches the plate.  Ruling: Score the run on the live-ball award Play 2: With two outs

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Catch or No Catch

Here is an interesting play for you to review. I suggest you read it until you come to STOP HERE. There is additional spacing so you do not see the correct call. Make your call and then compare it to the correct call. This is an actual play from one of our Community College games in 2016. Thanks to Steve

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Proper Appeal Procedure If There Is Confusion 7.1

The defense wants to appeal a runner for leaving the base before the batted ball was first touched by the outfielder who catches the fly ball. The runner, who was on second base at the time of the pitch, is now standing at third base. The ball is now in the infield and the defensive dugout is yelling at the

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Tie Goes To a Runner

This article was written for, and was published in Referee Magazine… Fans, players and coaches are often heard stating “the tie goes to the runner.”  However, no rule in baseball or softball has this phrase.  A few reputable MLB umpires have stated: “there is no tie; they’re either out or safe!”  The last half of that statement is inarguably true;

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Time allowed between pitches

Can the pitcher stand on the pitcher’s plate longer than 10 seconds with her hands apart?  Yes, and maybe up to 20 seconds!  How, you ask, with the 10-10-5 rule (10.18)?  The first 10 seconds of what we affectionately call the 10-10-5 rule applies to both the pitcher and batter. Once the PU determines this first 10-second count should start, the

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