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. A team that violates a rule should not be able to gain an advantage when the infraction for the violation is imposed.
Revised Case Book Plays: A.R. 12-37
The runner on first base leaves before the release of the pitch because the pitcher holds onto the ball and does not release it until a second rotation of the arm past the hip. The pitch is a strike and the runner is safe at second. Is the runner still considered to have left early after being duped by the illegal pitch?
RULING: Both infractions result in a delayed dead ball. However, this violation of Rule 10.6.1 by the defense to cause a runner to leave early makes a travesty of the game. It also violates the Code of Conduct which states that “Coaches and players are to comply wholeheartedly with the spirit and intent of the rules. The deliberate teaching of players to violate the rules is indefensible.” It also violates Rule 15.2.14, “The umpire shall not impose an effect on a team for any infraction of a rule when imposing the effect would be an advantage to the offending team.” NO PITCH is declared, the runner is placed back on first base, and the pitcher and her head coach are given a behavioral warning, as in Rule13.1.2.
Also, the intent of Note 2 which follows the effect for Rule 12.14.2 is to simplify the second option of a multiple violation play to only the leaving early effect. The phrase “with no regard for any action that follows the pitcher’s windup” does not apply here. (Rule 12.14.2)
Revised Case Book Plays: A.R. 12-35
May a runner who mistimes leaving the base on a pitch, reset herself and as long as she is back in contact with the base at the time the pitch is released, not be in violation of this rule?
RULING: No, the rule says the runner may not leave the base until the pitcher releases the pitch to the batter so once she breaks contact with the base, even if she tries to reestablish contact before release, she would be in violation and the umpire will have signaled delayed dead ball, provided the pitcher has not delayed her release in order to dupe the runner into leaving early. (Rule 12.14.2)