Sweeping the Plates or Bases (Lost Mechanic)


Over the past years the CCA Manual, the “mechanics manual” for college softball, has removed some sections which had good information covering a number of topics which are still valid college mechanics. They may have been removed because of editing and attempts to make the Manual shorter. This is one of them.

Sweeping should only be done as necessary, not as a routine. If sweeping is necessary, do so in a very expedient manner. Follow the guidelines below:

Home Plate

  • Do not sweep it if you can see most of the plate, unless one of the corners needs to be cleaned
  • Do not go into “automatic mode” and sweep the plate before every half-inning, unless it needs it
  • If the plate needs sweeping at the end of a half-inning, wait until after the catcher throws the last warm-up pitch in the next half-inning, unless the plate is completely covered

Pitcher’s Plate – at the end of each half-inning

If it is relatively clean such that the back/front edges and side edges can be clearly seen, there is no need to sweep it. If there is a possibility of either coach entering the field to argue a call involving the base umpire after the third out of the half-inning, move directly to the between-innings position and not sweep the plate. This includes and base coach moving toward any base umpire.

  • In the 2-umpire system:
    • The base umpire is responsible for sweeping this plate
    • It is acceptable for the plate umpire to sweep the pitcher’s plate if the base umpire has chased, the plate needs cleaning, and the PU is in the vicinity of the circle when the third out is made.
  • In the 3-umpire system, the priority is in this order:
    • If the last out is made on a play for which a base umpire has chased, the remaining umpire should sweep the plate
    • If neither umpire has covered an outfield catch, the base umpire who called the 3rd out should not sweep the plate
    • The umpire who finished in the middle should sweep the plate, unless he/she called the last out
    • U3 should sweep the plate


  • Not the same as the pitching or home plates; bases are above ground and do not often need to be cleaned
  • In a 3-ump system and no chase, if second base needs to be swept after a play (e.g. R1 steals 2b), U3 should move toward his/her next calling position on the 3b line and U1 should sweep 2b.  This will speed up the game and the players will not be waiting for U3 to get into position.