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 codes describe this as an unreported sub; whereas NCAA expands this to unreported/misreported player.

Before we get into more detail about inaccurate lineups and unreported/misreported players, let’s point out two other differences with how NCAA rules on these lineup violations.
• The college rule uses a term not used in other softball rule books, “improper player” to encompass batting out of order, inaccurate lineup card, unreported/misreported players and illegal players.
• The college rule combines the improper player with the batting out of order as an appeal play

To assist with the following discussion, you may want to refer to the excellent Appendix B in the NCAA rule book, Improper Player Chart. The in-depth details of these rules can be found in Rule 8.

Definitions
Inaccurate lineup: “A lineup card is considered inaccurate when eligible starting players and substitutes are listed incorrectly such as an inaccurate or omitted first name, number or position.”

Unreported/misreported player: “…a player who has the right to change defensive position, enter or re-enter the game but has not been reported or has inaccurately reported to the umpire before her participation.”

What is the difference between an inaccurate lineup vs an unreported/misreported player? Treat the inaccurate lineup as the same, in Effect, as the batting out of order rule (See Appendix B); it is considered a less serious offense. See the table at the end of this article – there are only two situations for which all play stands for an inaccurate lineup, but for which the unreported/misreported player is declared out.

For an inaccurate lineup, correct the mistake as long as the player is listed on the lineup card. The unreported/misreported player is declared officially in the game. Unlike an illegal player, these violations do not result in a player or coach being ejected.

Inaccurate lineup
The best way to understand the differences in these two rules is to study the plays below and review the table at the end of this article. In the NCAA Case Book, A.R. 8-12 comes close to a definitive explanation of the difference between an inaccurate lineup and a misreported player. Unfortunately, this A.R. uses a play for which either infraction results in the same ruling. See the play below and the one in the Unreported/misreported Player section to better understand the difference.

A.R. 8-12 clarified for inaccurate lineup
Play 1: The only player listed on the lineup card with #5 is Smith; there is no player listed as #6. Player #20 is in the lineup and she is now the proper batter. The coach substitutes #5 for #20, but #5 is wearing her road uniform which is #6. Smith (wearing #6) gets a base hit. The defensive coach appeals before the next pitch that the player on base is not the correct player.
Ruling: the correct ruling on this play is an inaccurate lineup. Smith is called out, all results from the play shall be nullified, the lineup card should be corrected to reflect that Smith is #6, and Smith is now officially in the game.

To determine this, the umpire should confirm the substitute’s name. Since her name is Smith and, there is no player with #6 listed on this team’s lineup card, this establishes that what happened on the field is, in fact, Smith was reported and is playing. Smith is wearing the wrong number, which confirms this as a violation of the inaccurate lineup rule.

Important
The 2020-2021 rule book has a Note after 8.3.2: A player’s name supersedes a listed uniform number. Some coaches and umpires have interpreted this Note to mean that we do not use the Effect for an inaccurate lineup for a situation similar to Play 1, even when properly appealed. This confusion is understandable since this Note is directly under the Inaccurate Lineup rule.

The training staff recommended to the NCAA Softball Rules Editor (SRE) to either delete this Note or reword it – for example, “A player’s name supersedes a listed uniform number in determining which player is actually participating in the game; however, it does not negate the inaccurate lineup card rule. The SRE’s reply: “I have this listed as a topic for discussion at our mid-June meeting in Indy.” Let’s hope this rule is revised and we do not have any misinterpretations from coaches in the future.

There is a Note after 8.3.2 which states: A player’s name supersedes a listed uniform number. A few coaches have interpreted this note to mean that we do not use the Effect for an inaccurate lineup, even when properly appealed. This confusion is understandable since this Note is directly under the Inaccurate Lineup rule. Here is a play which explains how to interpret and correctly apply this rule.

The coach writes the incorrect number on the lineup for the first batter. Her name is Smith and her uniform number is #1, but the lineup card lists her as #11. This batter gets a hit and before the next pitch is thrown the defense appeals that the player should be called out based on the inaccurate lineup rule (8.3.2 Effect d). The plate umpire rules on the protest and calls the player out. The offensive coach protests, using the Note after 8.3.2. He states that the player’s name is Smith so this name supersedes the number.

We DO use the inaccurate lineup rule for a situation as described above. This Note after 8.3.2 is for the situation whereby another player in the lineup is listed as #11 also, and we must use the player’s name to determine who actually batted. Case Book 8-12 clarifies this situation, and this has been verified by the NCAA Softball Rules Editor.

The NCAA Softball Rules Editor text to Bennett 4/25/19:

Note at end of 8.3.2 refers to a player – the coach cannot omit nor inaccurately list the number in the lineup.  Regardless of the name, it is still an inaccurate lineup if the wrong number is listed for the player in question.  The roster at the bottom can have a wrong number and it is only an inaccurate lineup if the player is entered into the lineup with the wrong number.

 Example: Vickie is the starter and her number is listed as #3 in the lineup but her uniform has #1.  Susan is listed in the roster at the bottom as #3.  To determine which player is actually the starter, the the name takes precedence.  Vickie is the starter because her name is on the lineup; Susan is the sub even though her number is in the starting lineup.

 Unreported/misreported Player
This is considered a more egregious violation than an inaccurate lineup. Again, reading a play and its ruling will better address the difference between the two rules, rather than a long discussion.

A.R. 8-12 clarified for unreported/misreported player
Play 1: The lineup card for the team lists two players as #6 – Smith and Adams. Player #20 is in the lineup and she is now the proper batter. The coach substitutes #6 for #20 (no names are reported). Smith (wearing #6) gets a base hit. The defensive coach appeals that the player on base is not the correct player.
Ruling: Since there are two players with #6 on the lineup card, we need to determine which player is the actual substitute and is now standing on base. We will do this by asking the coach the name of the player who just batted. The name takes precedence. When the coach reported #6 as the sub, Adams should have entered the game. But Smith batted and is on base; the correct ruling on this play is a misreported substitution.
• Smith is called out and all results from the play shall be nullified
• The lineup card should be corrected to reflect that Smith is #5 and is now officially in the game
• Smith does not have to change her uniform number; she is considered #5 now and for all future situations
• Adams #6 is still considered a substitute.

Ruling from SRE to validate the above Rulings
Although Case Book 8-12 attempts to clarify this rule, it took a protest to have the SRE make a definitive ruling, which was – the Note after 8.3.2 is not meant to change the Effect for an inaccurate lineup.

This was the exact wording in a text from the SRE to the training staff on April 25, 2019 (and she gives an example, which supports the ruling above, although a slightly different play):
Note at end of 8.3.2 refers to a player – the coach cannot omit nor inaccurately list the number in the lineup. Regardless of the name, it is still an inaccurate lineup if the wrong number is listed for the player in question. The lineup card at the bottom can have a wrong number and it is only an inaccurate lineup if the player is entered into the lineup with the wrong number.

Example: Vickie is the starter and her number is listed as #3 in the lineup but her uniform has #1. Susan is listed in the lineup card at the bottom as #3. To determine which player is actually the starter, the name takes precedence. Vickie is the starter because her name is on the lineup; Susan is the sub even though her number is in the starting lineup.

Major rule Effects – Inaccurate lineup and Unreported/misreported Player
Taken from Appendix B in rule book


 Inaccurate LineupUnreported/misreported
1. Offending team corrects own mistakeNo penalty to correct name or number as long as player on lineup cardNo penalty; all advances are legal; declared officially in game
2. Defensive team alerts umpire while offender is at batAll play stands; correct lineupOffending player is out; all advances are legal; declared officially in game
3.Defensive team alerts umpire immediately after turn at bat but before next pitchOffending player is out; nullify all advances; correct lineupOffending player is out; nullify all advances; declared officially in game
4. Defensive team alerts umpire after turn at bat and after a pitchTurn at bat is legal; all play stands; correct lineupOffending player is out if on base; all advances are legal; declared officially in game.
5. Defensive team alerts umpire of offending tiebreaker or pinch runner who has just advanced but before next pitch.Offending player is out; nullify all advances; correct lineupOffending player is out; nullify all advances; declared officially in game.
6. Defensive team alerts umpire of offending tiebreaker or pinch runner who has just advanced and after next pitchAll play stands, correct lineup“No pitch” declared; offending player is out if on base; all advances are legal; declared officially in game
7. Offensive team alerts umpire of offending defensive player after she makes a play but before next pitch.Offensive coach has option to nullify play and repeat last pitch, or take results of play; correct lineupOffensive coach has option to nullify play and repeat last pitch, or take results of play; officially in game
8. Offensive team alerts umpire of offending defensive player after she make a play and after next pitch.All play stands; correct lineup.All play stands; officially in game.