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, have stopped on their bases.
Umpires should not call time-out, even if requested, until these two things have happened. There may be some exceptions to this – for example, a very wet ball is returned to the infield and all runners have stopped on their bases, or a serious injury has occurred during the play.
When is the pitcher considered in the circle?
As long as neither of the pitcher’s feet is on the ground completely outside the lines of the circle, she is considered in the circle. The lines of the circle are included in being “within” the circle. If she barely has the heel of one foot and the toe of other foot on the lines, she is considered in the circle. All codes agree on this. In other words, both feet must be touching or within the lines of the pitcher’s circle for the pitcher to “in the circle” and get the benefit of the Look Back rule.
Another major point of discussion for this rule is what exactly determines possession of the ball in the circle by the pitcher. The various softball codes differ slightly on this. All softball codes agree that the pitcher has possession when the ball is in her glove or her hand and she is in the circle. But we have all seen some of the crazy things that pitchers might do with the ball or with the glove while the ball is inside of it glove/ball while in the circle. Such as…she removes the glove with the ball or the ball itself from her hand and:
1. Puts the glove or ball under her arm
2. Holds the glove or ball between her knees so she can adjust her hair
3. Puts the glove or ball under her chin
In all 3 of these situations USA rules that the pitcher does not have possession of the ball. In NCAA, NFHS and USSSA, the pitcher is still considered to have possession of the ball. They all agree, however, that if the pitcher drops or places the glove/ball on the ground, she no longer has possession.