January 2010 Plays and Clarifications
Welcome to the 2010 ASA Softball season. We are well on our way to the start of another great softball year. As the umpire community continues to grow we would like to remind all of us involved in the umpire family to invite a friend to join us for a fun ride and learning experience.
Rule 3, Section 1: New rules passed by the ASA Council have been posted on the ASA website for all to review. Because of changes to Rule 3 Section 1 we should add some comments to deal with them in this month’s clarifications and frequently asked questions.
You will notice a change in the definitions describing parts of the bat. We have added a definition of the area between the handle and the barrel known as the taper. It was added to help equipment manufactures understand the area that we consider neither the handle nor the barrel of the bat. This allows for new bat designs to be an approved bat as this area is now clearly defined.
The definition of the bat handle has also been rewritten and now allows many things that were previously not allowed or considered an altered bat. The question of the choke up attachment or cone shaped grip was previously ruled to be an altered bat is no longer considered an altered bat. These attachments are legal provided they are permanently attached to the bat or attached with safety tape. We now allow more than two layers of tape on the bat handle.
These changes allow ASA to work on the barrel end of the bat to make the game more playable for everyone and reduce conflict on the items used to hold the bat. These changes make our rules more “player-friendly” and hopefully more fun for all those that participate in our great game of softball.
To start the New Year, it seems appropriate to revisit a topic that always attracts a lot of attention and discussion. The following situations and scenarios all pertain to the question: Is it, or is it not Interference?
The game is FP, Modified or SP with Stealing. In each case the backstop is very close to the plate area and the ball has a tendency to come off the backstop toward the plate area very quickly. There are also runners on base.
The ball gets passed the catcher and:
a. Comes back and strikes the batter in the batter’s box.
b.Comes back and settles in between the legs of the batter in the batter’s box.
c.Comes back and strikes the batter out of the batter’s box.
d.Comes back and settles in or around the feet of the batter, preventing the catcher from cleanly fielding the ball.
The catcher has the ability to:
1) make a play with a chance to make an out
2) not to realistically make a play after the ball strikes the batter and the runners have not reached the next base at the time the ball strikes the batter or
a.the ball strikes the batter and settles near them or
b.the ball strikes the batter and bounces well away from the catcher preventing them from making a play or
c. the batter (brain dead) picks up the ball and hands it to the catcher or taps the ball to the catcher with their bat
a.Does it make a difference if the batter knows the ball is there and does or does not make an attempt to get out of the way?
b. Would it make a difference if the runner is trying to score from 3B?
Whenever we speak about Interference, we must always remember that the determination of whether an act is or is not Interference is found in its definition. (Rule 1)
Interference: The act of any offensive player or team member, umpire or spectator that IMPEDES, HINDERS OR CONFUSES a defensive player attempting to execute a play. Applying the definition of interference to all the situations above will lead you to the correct application of the Rule. In addition, when talking about Batter Interference, Rule 7, Section 6 P, Q, & S, may also apply.
The fact that the ball strikes the batter anywhere does not constitute Interference. However, the batter’s actions after the ball has contacted them will determine whether Interference has or has not occurred. In all cases the batter should be given the opportunity to react to the fact that the ball has suddenly struck them. The batter’s actions afterwards may or may not constitute Interference.
If the (brain dead) batter hindered, confused or impeded the catcher while they were attempting a play, Interference should be called. Conversely, in the judgment of the umpire, the batter did not hinder, confuse or impede the catcher, no Interference should be declared. If there was a runner attempting to score from 3B, the applied criteria would be the same.
In all of the above scenarios, the following observations should be made:
1. In order to arrive at the correct decision, the umpire must see the entire play.
2. The umpire’s judgment, based on sound Mechanics and knowledge of the Rules, will determine the proper applications to the above questions.