When you have to make that difficult call and you know you nailed it with your rules knowledge, explain the situation to the coach with rule book verbiage. It is usually best to state the rule to the coach first and then if questioned, use the phrase “in my judgment” or “by rule” as appropriate. Here are some examples:
RULE 9 – DEFENSE
“Coach, I saw the play clearly. Your fielder trapped the ball. The ball hit the ground before she got possession of the ball.” Or last sentence can be: “The ball hit the ground before being caught.” (9.2.8)
Loses possession after taking steps before hitting fence
Coach: she had the ball long enough to show she caught the ball.
Umpire: “Coach, I saw the play clearly. Your fielder had possession of the ball but dropped it before she showed complete control of the ball and a voluntary release. (9.1)
Coach: How long does she have to hold the ball?”
Umpire: “Coach, as I said, she must show complete control of the ball before it is dropped. The rule book is very clear on this – by rule she must show a voluntary and intentional release of the ball before a catch is legal.
Coach: why did you call obstruction!!
Umpire: “Coach, your fielder impeded the progress of the runner.”
Coach: My fielder did not get in the way of that runner
Umpire: “Coach, in my judgment the fielder was not in the act of fielding the ball and impeded the progress of the base runner who was legally running the bases.” (1.36, 9.4.1)
**Can also say…”not in possession of the ball or not in the act of catching the thrown ball.”
RULE 10 – PITCHING
Coach: why did you call that an illegal pitch!!
Umpire: “Coach, the pitcher must step onto the plate with the hands separated, and keep them separated for a pause of 2 seconds before she brings her hands together.
Coach: She did pause for 2 seconds
Umpire: In my judgment she did not pause for 2 seconds; she is bringing her hands together too quickly.” (10.2.2 and interpretation).
Coach: “it doesn’t say that in the book.”
Umpire: “This is the interpretation from NCAA and was part of the rule presentation which I was told was given to all coaches.”
“Coach, in my judgment your pitcher’s back foot lost contact with the pitcher’s plate before she began her forward step. The rule is clear on this – that foot must remain in contact until she begins her forward step.” (10.4.3)
Coach: why did you call that an illegal pitch!!
Umpire: She leaped. Her pivot foot did not drag on the ground from the pitcher’s plate.
Coach: that is the first time she has ever been called for a leap.
Umpire: Coach, in my judgment on that last pitch your pitcher became airborne on her initial drive from the pitcher’s plate. The pivot foot must drag on the ground.” (10.4.5)
“Coach, in my judgment on that last pitch your pitcher replanted and gained a second push off her pivot foot from in front of the pitcher’s plate. That is an illegal pitch.” (10.4.6)
Time allowed between pitches violation on pitcher
Coach, I am giving your pitcher the benefit of the doubt but I had to call this violation just now because, in my judgment, she definitely took more than (10 seconds to get on the pitcher’s plate or 10 seconds to bring her hands together after stepping on the plate or 5 seconds to deliver the pitch after her hands came together. (10.18)
RULE 11 – BATTING
Time allowed between pitches violation on batter
Coach, I am giving your batter the benefit of the doubt but I had to call this violation just now because, in my judgment, (she definitely took more than 10 seconds to get in the batter’s box after the pitcher received the ball from the catcher after the previous pitch, or took more than 10 seconds to get in the batter’s box after I distinctly told her “Play ball” (11.2)
Umpire does not grant time-out to batter who is requesting it
Coach, I told the batter as she was attempting to call time-out – no, stay in the box. This rule has been on the books for quite a few years now. Unless something unusual is happening the umpire is not to call time-out in this situation. We need to keep the count going to keep a good game flow. (11.2)
“Coach, your batter clearly held her bat in the strike zone and never pulled it away from the ball. By rule that is a bunt attempt, regardless of where the pitch was.” (126.96.36.199)
Coach: “That ball was definitely a foul ball.”
Umpire: “Well, coach, I will agree that ball was very close, but in my judgment it hit just fair.”
Coach: “No, you are wrong. The ball was foul and you just gave them this game.”
Umpire: “Coach, this is a judgment call. I was right on the line when the ball first hit the ground, and I definitely saw it hit the line on its first bounce.”
Coach: “Unbelievable! You must go for help on this (see last section of this article – CCA Manual – for more information on “Going For Help”). Your terrible call is costing me the game!!
Umpire: “Coach I have already told you twice it was a fair ball.
Coach: “That ball was definitely a fair ball.
Umpire: “Well, coach, I will agree with you that that ball was very close, but in my judgment it hit just foul.”
Coach: “No, you are wrong. The ball was fair and this game should be over.”
Umpire: “Coach, this is a judgment call. I was right on the line when the ball first hit the ground, and I definitely saw it hit foul on its first bounce.”
Coach: “Unbelievable! You must go for help on this*, it might cost me the game!!
Umpire: “Coach I have already told you twice it was a foul ball. And by rule, a batted ball declared foul cannot be changed.” (See last section of this article – CCA Manual – for more information on “Going For Help”)
Coach says loudly: That is a terrible call. Wait till you see the replay.
Umpire: “Coach, that is enough. This is a warning for unsporting behavior, now let’s play ball”
Coach kicks dirt on umpire and says more loudly: “You are a disgrace out here. You should not umpiring at this level!!!
(Umpire must, at this point, eject the coach)
Batter hit by pitch in the zone
Coach, that pitch was clearly in the strike zone when your batter let it hit her. I am focusing on the strike zone in this situation and I could clearly see what happened. By rule that pitch must be called strike. (188.8.131.52)
Batter in box and intentionally gets hit by pitch
Yes, coach, that pitch was in the batter’s box. But in my judgment your batter obviously tried to get hit by the pitch. The rule is very clear on this – she is not awarded first base for this act. (184.108.40.206)
Batter made no attempt to avoid the pitch which is not entirely in the strike zone
Coach, that pitch was NOT entirely in the batter’s box and your batter made no attempt to avoid the pitch. I give the benefit to the batter in this situation but I was the play clearly. By rule she must attempt to avoid a pitch which is not ENTIRELY in the box; she is not awarded first base in this situation. (220.127.116.11)
Slapper hit by pitch while out of box.
Yes, coach, the pitch did hit your batter. It hit her before the pitch reached the front line of the batter’s box. The rule is very clear in this situation, this is a “not pitch’ and the batter is NOT awarded first base. (18.104.22.168)
RULE 12 – BASE RUNNING
“Coach, in my judgment the runner denied the fielder a reasonable opportunity to play the ball.” (12.19). if the argument continues you may have to add: “The fielder has the right to field the ball anywhere on the field.”
If the defensive coach wants interference for a fielder who was not making the play:
“Yes, coach, I saw the runner contact that fielder. But in my judgment your shortstop had the best chance to field the ball. When two fielders are trying to field the ball the rule book is very clear – the umpire judges which fielder is entitled to field the ball and only that fielder is protected. Any other fielder can be called for obstruction if she impedes the runner.” (22.214.171.124.4.4)
Can also say: “Coach, it is not interference when more than one fielder attempts to field a batted ball and the runner comes into contact with the one, who in the umpire’s judgment, could not have made a play. In my judgment your first baseman was making the play, not your second baseman.” (126.96.36.199
If the defensive coach wants interference on a runner running in front of the fielder:
“Yes, coach, I saw what the runner did. In my judgment the runner was merely running in front of the fielder (or jumping over the ball) while legally running the bases. The rule book covers this exact situation – this is not interference even though it may be distracting to the fielder or screen her view of the ball.” (188.8.131.52.4.2)
Running lane interference
“Coach, in my judgment your batter-runner ran in a manner that interfered with the fielder taking the throw at first base. That, by rule, is batter-runner interference.” (184.108.40.206.2)
Batter-runner and catcher collide, or F3 and BR collide on errant throw
“Coach, I was watching the play closely and the rule book is very clear on this situation. In my judgment both players’ actions were appropriate and contact could not be avoided. This was inadvertent contact and neither interference nor obstruction.” (220.127.116.11.4 Note)
Can also use 12.13.3 – “Coach, simply because there is contact between two players does not mean that obstruction or interference has occurred. This exact wording is in the rule book. And that is what happened on this play.”
Running out of base path
Umpire: “Coach, your runner went completely out of the base path to avoid that tag.”
Coach: “What do you mean the base path…she was just running to the next base.”
Umpire: “Coach, the base path is defined as the imaginary direct line, and three feet to either side of that line, between the base and the runner’s position at the time a defensive player is attempting to apply a tag. I saw this play clearly and your runner was outside that base patch.”
RULE 13 – MISCONDUCT
13.2 Escorting coach off field after ejection
“Yes, coach, I know you are upset..blah blah. But for now for the sake of your team you must leave the playing field. You must be completely out of sight and sound…(13.2).
Going For Help section has been removed from the 2016 manual. Some of this material is from the 2011 CCA Manual
Going for help on judgment call
Situation: coach asks you immediately to go for help
Umpire: “Coach, this is a judgment all. What is your question about the call?”
Coach: “It is obvious that my runner slid under the tag.”
Umpire: “So you are questioning the judgment that the tag did not beat the runner.”
Coach: “Yes, that is why you need to go for help to your partners.”
Umpire: “Coach, this is my call. In my judgment the tag was applied before the runner’s foot hit the bat. I was in the proper position for the play, got the correct angle to see the tag and the runner’s foot, and am very sure of my call. Now let’s play ball.”
Coach: “No. I insist that you go for help to your partners so you get this call right.”
Umpire: “Coach, if I had any doubt about my call, I would definitely go for help. In my judgment I did get this call right. Now we need to stop talking and continue the game.”
Coach: “I am not leaving this field until you go for help.”
Umpire: “Coach, my partners were far away from this play and were taking care of their responsibilities when the play happened. Now I have already talked to you about this judgment call for too long. I am turning and going back to my position. Do not follow me or continue to argue.”
Situation: coach says the rule book says you have to go for help if I ask.
“Coach, it states an umpire should, but is not required to consult another umpire.” I had this play in front of me and there is no question in my mind that it is the correct call. Now let’s play ball.”