Any player may be substituted for at any time when the ball is dead. Any coach may notify the umpire of a substitution; it must be a coach, not a player. Substitutes are considered officially in the game when all of the following is completed:
• Reported and accepted by the plate umpire by his/her recording on his/her lineup card.
• The plate umpire announces the substitution to the opposing coach.
• The plate umpire notifies the official scorer and the public-address announcer (if applicable).
This is often a straight-forward substitution – one player replaces another. However, multiple substitutions may be made by the coach. If this is the case, the umpire must make sure the substitutes are properly recorded in the correct spots in the team’s batting order. It is the responsibility of both the recording coach and the plate umpire to ensure the substitution is recorded on the lineup card as stated by the coach.
• A pitcher may be replaced by a substitute before having delivered a pitch whether or not the first batter facing her has completed her at-bat or the side has been retired.
• A pitcher is not entitled to warmup pitches if she returns to pitch in the same inning.
• The pitcher is considered in the game when the conditions listed above have been met AND she throws a warmup pitch or a pitch to the first batter she faces if she is not entitled to warmup pitches.
Injured player substitutions
• Substitutes for an injured player must be allowed adequate time to warm up.
• If an injury to a runner prevents her from proceeding to an awarded base, the ball is dead and the substitution may be made.
• Starting players, including the DP and Flex, may reenter once in the same batting spot.
• A substitute who is withdrawn may not reenter.
Concussion rules and reentry
The reentry rule has been revised (2021) with regard to a player removed from a game due to a potential concussion. This amended rule is not in the printed version of the 2020-2021 Rule Book but this major rule change was posted on the NCAA Central Hub website.
• A player exhibiting signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with concussion must be immediately removed from the game and may not return until cleared by the appropriate medical personnel.
• The player may be replaced by any eligible player who has not yet participated in the game.
• If the injured player is cleared to resume participation, she may resume her lineup spot and the temporary replacement player (TP) may again participate in the game as a substitute in the same lineup spot.
o Provided she was not already a withdrawn substitute or a reentered starter before becoming the TP.
• If the DP is the injured player and the coach enters the Flex into the DP slot instead of using a temporary player, the DP may reenter her spot in the lineup only once if she is cleared to return to play. A.R 8-31.
• If the Flex is the injured player and the coach uses the DP as her “replacement” instead of using a temporary player, and the DP plays defense in a subsequent inning, the Flex may reenter her spot in the lineup only once if she is cleared to return to play. A.R 8-3.
• If a team has no remaining eligible players, a starter or substitute who has previously participated in the game may replace the injured player.
Case Book plays have been added to the revised NCAA Case Book updated on February 16, 2021 (A.R. 8-26 through 8-32). Be sure to review these plays. Here is an example which incorporates some of these:
In the top of the second inning, F8 #5 makes contact with the outfield fence and exhibits signs consistent with a concussion and is removed from the game for medical evaluation. Substitute #21 enters the game as a temporary replacement player for #5 occupying the lineup batting in the 3 spot.
Legal 188.8.131.52 An injured player may be replaced by any eligible player who has not yet participated in the game.
In the top of the third inning, #5 is cleared to play and reenters the game replacing #21 playing F8.
Legal 184.108.40.206 If an injured player is cleared to resume participation, she may resume her lineup spot.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, substitute #32 enters the game to run for #5. In the top of the fifth inning, #5 reenters the game to play F8. Legal 220.127.116.11 #5 may be substituted for by any eligible substitute later in the game and may reenter the game once.
(a) In the top of the seventh inning, #5 exhibits signs consistent with a concussion and is removed from the game due to her injury. #21 enters the game for #5 to play F8.
Legal 18.104.22.168 #21 is eligible to enter the game again as a substitute for any player occupying the lineup batting in the 3 spot as she has not participated in the game prior as a substitute player.
(b) In the top of the seventh inning, #5 exhibits signs consistent with a concussion and is removed from the game due to her injury. The team has no eligible players available and #32 reenters the game for #5 to play F8.
Legal 22.214.171.124 A substitute who has previously participated in the game may replace an injured player when a team has no remaining eligible players.
(c) In the top of the seventh inning, #5 exhibits signs consistent with a concussion and is removed from the game due to her injury. The team has no eligible players available and starter #11 who has been previously substituted for in the game reenters the game for #5 to play F8.
Legal 126.96.36.199 A starter who has previously participated in the game may replace an injured player when a team has no remaining eligible players.
The rule that deals with projected substitutions was amended 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 the new wording changes two situations which in the past were considered projected substitutions, but now are not considered projected substitutions.
• Coach may report more than one change in the batting order at the beginning of the offensive half-inning.
• Coach may re-enter the DP before her next at bat.
Here are some examples:
Pre-game meeting with coaches
At the pre-game meeting with coaches, after the lineups have been made official, it is common practice for the plate umpire to ask both coaches if they have any changes to the lineups. It is not uncommon for one or both of the teams to state: “yes, my DP is now playing defense for my Flex and we are going down to 9 players.”
Ruling: in the past this technically could have been considered a projected substitution if the visiting team did this, as they would not be on defense until the bottom of the first inning. We have previously taken this change without regard to whether it is the home or visiting team making the change. Now, with all the discussion about projected substitutions, this has been clarified – this change may be accepted for any DP/Flex changes at the pre-game meeting after the lineups are official.
Substitute will bat and stay in the game
Offensive coach tells the plate umpire that #21 is batting for #11 (who is currently listed as playing RF). Sometimes the coach will state that the sub will stay in the game to play RF; sometimes this is not stated.
Ruling: even though #21 is not immediately participating on defense, she is IMMEDIATELY participating at bat. She is being entered on the lineup card as the next immediate batter who will assume her defensive position at the end of the half inning. Telling the umpire that she is going to play RF after she bats is not a projected sub.
Coach reports that #21 is batting for #11 and #11 will reenter when they go on defense.
Ruling: re-entries reported while the substitute is participating (running, batting, playing defense), will continue not to be allowed.