It is extremely important that all umpire crews do a proper bat check before every game. This requires coordination with the coaches to ensure the bat list and bats are presented per the rule book. Bat Compression Testing is now required (rule changes in 2020 and 2022) for all NCAA softball games prior to the start of each tournament, series, doubleheader, or single midweek game during the regular season. Why is this so important? The NCAA lists these reasons to regulate the bats:
• Protect the integrity of the game
• Maintain the balance of offense and defense
• Ensure performance is a result of player’s skill more than of her equipment
• Assure fair and equitable competition between teams
• Regulate the defender’s available reaction time
In addition to this, there are liability issues if a non-compliant bat is used and an injury results. The NCAA
• Complete the information of the bat list’s first page as required by the rule book – team name and date.
• Highlight the entire line on which each model bat available for play appears; enter the number of bats of each model that will be on the field or in the team area.
• Arrange the bats in the same order the models appear on the bat list.
• Ensure the completed bat list is available to the umpires and keep it readily available throughout the game.
Note: these duties may be delegated to other team personnel. If there is an issue with any of the above bullets, ask the head coach who is responsible for the bat list and work with that person to resolve the issue. If it cannot be resolved by this method, involve the coach in the discussion. A game cannot start until the bat list inspection has been completed and all issues have been resolved.
• Check the first page of the current bat list (date in red), for proper completion and note the total number of passed bats.
• Make sure the entry for each bat to be used in the game is highlighted and the #units written.
• Disqualify those bats that are inappropriate (illegal, altered, nonapproved, or damaged)
• Reconcile the total number of stickered bats with the number of bats indicated on the team’s bat list.
• Ensure the number of stickered bats does not exceed the number of bats listed as having been tested.
• If the numbers do not match, the traditional reconciliation of the individual models on the bat list with the actual bats is required.
• All discrepancies in count must be resolved before the game starts.
• Inspect the bats for suitability and any obvious damage; remove unacceptable bats and give them to the game manager.
• Ensure bats not accounted for in the count and via highlight are not allowed to remain in any team area nor on the field.
• The crew chief must make a note of all disqualified bats and file a Noncompliant/Inappropriate Bat Report
Important note: some umpires are not following these procedures before the second game of a doubleheader. The correct procedure is to check the bats for every game. This is important as it has been discovered on a number of occasions that the bats presented for this second game are not the same as presented for the first game.
• Plate umpire checks the list’s first page and highlighted entries
• At the same time the base umpire checks each bat for the proper sticker and possible damage.
• Plate umpire checks the list’s first page and highlighted entries.
• Starting at each end of the presented bats, one base umpire checks half the bats for proper sticker and possible damage while the other base umpire takes the other half, OR
• One base umpire checks the stickers while the other base umpire checks for possible damage.
Tips for Bat Checking
How much and how hard should an umpire be shaking the bat while checking for wobbles and rattles?
• CHECKING FOR WOBBLES IS TOUGH TO TEACH BUT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IS A BAT WHERE THE CONNECTION IS COMPROMISED.
• AS YOU WAGGLE THE BAT (WRIST FLIP FORWARD AWAY FROM THE BODY AND THEN BACK TOWARD THE BODY), THERE IS A TIME LAG FOR THE BARREL TO CATCH UP WITH THE HANDLE.
• IT CAN CERTAINLY BE DONE WITH JUST ONE HAND MIDWAY UP THE GRIP.
How exactly can umpires determine if a mark on the barrel of the bat is just a scratch of the paint versus a crack that appears to have affected the actual barrel?
• COMPOSITE BATS ARE NOW DESIGNED TO BREAK FROM THE INSIDE OUT AND PAINT SCRATCHES ARE FROM THE OUTSIDE IN.
• SO FOR SCRATECHES LOOK TO SEE IF THE EDGES ARE EXPLODING OR IMPLODING.
• SCRATCHES ARE USUALLY SEEN AS SINGULAR AND ALONE
• CRACKS OFTEN (BUT NOT ALWAYS) SPIDERS OR RADIATES AND ARE MORE A GROUP OF MARKS THAN A SINGLE MARK.