April 2008 Rule Clarifications and Plays

April 30, 2008, 12:23 p.m. (ET)

April Plays and Clarifications

Rule 3 Equipment
We have had several questions pertaining to bats and what is legally permissible to do to a bat. One item that appears to keep coming up is the rolling of bats for quicker break in of the fibers. There are those who maintain that rolling of one’s bat is perfectly legal. According to Rule 3 Section 7 NOTE: “The characteristics of any approved equipment can not be changed. Examples….” Therefore, according to our rules, rolling of one’s bat is illegal and would make that bat an altered bat according to Rule 1 Altered Bat: When the physical structure of a legal softball bat has been changed.

The Equipment Testing and Standards Committee has announced that the Schutt Red and Silver bat has been put on the Non Approved Bat List. This bat has been previously approved and does have the ASA approval stamp on it and will be listed as so on the web. Along with this action the Committee recommended and the ASA Board of Directors has approved a ban for 5 years for a reapplication of a bat licensee agreement.

Rule 8 Section 1B
We have received several questions in regards to our dropped third strike rule. Please remember that our wording for Rule 8 Section 1B is “When the catcher fails to catch the third strike before the ball touches the ground and there are 1) Fewer than two outs and first base is not occupied at the time of the pitch or 2) any time there are two outs.” The confusion comes from the wording of a dropped third strike. Remember it is actually a pitched ball that was not caught prior to touching the ground and is not touched by the bat.

Play 1: With one out B2 is at bat and has two strikes with 1B unoccupied. The next pitch hits in front of the plate and B2 swings at the ball, misses it and is caught by F2.
Ruling: This is a non-caught third strike and B2 is not out until tagged, F2 throws the ball to 1B before B2 arrives or B2 walks into the dugout without proceeding to 1B. (Rule 8 Section 1B)

Play 2: With R1 on 1B and two outs, B2 is at bat with two strikes. F1 throws a pitch that bounces in front of the plate and is swung at by B2. B2’s bat tips the ball sharply and directly to the F2’s glove and is caught by F2.
Ruling: B2 is out by means of a foul tip being caught for the third strike. Rule 1 Foul Tip. Since the ball was hit by the bat the ball can now be caught as a 3rd strike foul tip, a fair batted ball, or even a caught foul ball.

Rule 8 Section 4G and Section 5M:
Several questions have been asked recently about the ball getting lodged in offensive and/or defensive player’s uniform or equipment. Rules 8 Section 4G and Rule 8 Section 5M both speak to this topic.

Rule 8 Section 4G states when a live ball becomes lodged in a defensive player’s uniform or equipment, runners are entitled to advance with liability to be put out. This rule allows the defensive player to retrieve the ball from their uniform or equipment to gain control of it for a catch or even to make a play on an offensive player.

Rule 8 Section 5M states that if the ball gets lodged in 1) the umpire’s gear or clothing or 2) in the offensive player’s clothing the ball is dead and the umpire should award runners the base(s) the runner(s) would have reached.

Play 1: With no outs, B1 swings and misses the pitch for strike three. The pitch hits F2’s glove and ricochets down the front of the chest protector. B1 takes off running towards 1B and then continues to 2B before F2 finally retrieves the ball before it touches the ground.
Ruling: B1 is out for a caught third strike. F2 made a legal catch when F2 reached in behind the chest protector and retrieved the ball with their hand before it touched the ground. (Rule 1 CATCH/NO CATCH; Rule 8 Section 4G)

Play 2: With one out and R1 on 1B, B3 hits a long line drive to center right field where F8 scoops the ball up and throws to the plate to try and retire R1. The ball bounces, ricochets off F2’s glove and lands in the plate umpire’s ball bag.
Ruling: The umpire should declare a dead ball and award R1 and B3 the base(s) they would have reached had the ball not been lodged in the umpire’s ball bag. (Rule 8 Section 5M)