USA Softball News February 2012 Plays ...

February 2012 Plays and Clarifications

Feb. 28, 2012, 12:46 p.m. (ET)

February 2012 Plays and Clarifications

As we start our new softball year, we begin to get into the 2012 Rule Book in an effort to fine-tune our knowledge of the ASA Rules. Among the concepts that are sometime confusing, whether or not a ball remains live, becomes dead or is delayed dead based on the type of Rule violation.  Let’s explore dead ball situations.

Rule 1, definitions, tells us that a dead ball is “a ball that is not in play”.  Several situations involving a violation of our rules cause the ball to become dead immediately. At the forefront of these violations is Interference.  It might interest you to know that although a high percentage of Interference calls result in the ball becoming dead immediately, not all Interference result in a dead ball. Interference by Batter’s, Batter-Runners and Runners always cause the ball to become dead.  Let’s examine the specific situations where the ball becomes dead immediately.

The Batter
Rule 7, Sec. 6D: When the entire foot of the batter is outside the lines of the batter’s box and on the ground at the time the batter makes contact with the ball. 

  1. Any part of the batter’s foot touching home plate at the time the ball strikes the bat.  (Rule 7, Sec. 6E)
  2. When the batter leaves the batter’s box and then returns making contact with the ball.  (Rule 7, Sec. 6F)
  3. When the batter bunts foul after the second strike in Fast Pitch, or bunts or chops the ball in SP.  (Rule 7, Sec. 6G-FP, Rule 7, Sec. 6H-SP)
  4. When the batter hits a fair ball a second time in fair territory. (Rule 7, Sec. 6K).  It would not be a violation if the batter was in the batter’s box when contact was made or contact was made on the follow through after initially missing the pitch.  However in all these cases the ball would become dead immediately.

Additionally, the batter commits interference and the ball becomes dead when:

  1. They hinder the catcher while catching or throwing the ball, while stepping out of the batter’s box.  (Rule 7, Sec. 6P)
  2. They actively hinder the catcher while they are still in the batter’s box.  (Rule 7, Sec. Q)
  3. They intentionally interfere with a thrown ball, in or out of the batter’s box.  (Rule 7, Sec. 6R)
  4. They interfere with a play at the plate.  (Rule 7, Sec. 6S)

The Batter-Runner:
All Batter-Runner violations result in the ball becoming dead immediately. This includes the following situations:

  1. When the Batter-Runner fails to advance to first base and enters the team area after a batted fair ball, a base on balls (FP and SP with stealing), a dropped third strike or catcher’s obstruction.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2D)
  2. When the Batter-Runner commits three foot lane interference.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2E)
  3. When the Batter-Runner commits interference with a fielder attempting to field a batted ball or attempting to throw the ball.  In addition if they interfere with a thrown ball while out of the batter’s box or make contact with a fair batted ball prior to reaching first base.  This will also apply if the Batter-Runner discards their bat, preventing the defense from making a play on the ball or they interfere with a dropped third strike.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2F [1-6])
  4. When the Batter-Runner interferes with a play at home plate in order to prevent an out.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2G)
  5. When the Batter-Runner steps back toward home plate to avoid or delay a tag.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2)
  6. When after an Infield fly is declared the Batter-Runner is hit with the fair batted ball prior to reaching first base.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2I)
  7. When the Batter-Runner while in contact with the white portion of first base, interferes with the fielders opportunity to catch the thrown ball while they are standing on the white portion of first base.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2M [9])

The Runner:
Again, as above, all runner violations will result in having the ball become dead immediately.

  1. When a runner interferes with a fielders attempt to field a fair ball or catch a foul fly ball, throw the ball or interferes with a thrown ball. (Rule 8, 7J [1-3])
  2. When a runner intentionally interferes with a defensive players opportunity to make an out with a deflected batted ball.  (Rule 8, 7J [4])
  3. When the runner is struck with a fair untouched batted ball while not in contact with a base and before it passes another infielder including the pitcher or if another fielder has the opportunity to make an out.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7K)
  4. When a runner intentionally contacts a fair ball that an infielder has missed.  (Rule 8, Sec 7L)
  5. When a defensive player has the ball and the runner remains upright and crashes into the defensive player.  (Rule 8, 7Q)
  6. When the runner leaves a base prior to the pitch being released in Fast Pitch or prior to the ball touching the ground or reaching the plate in Slow Pitch.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7S & R)

The Coach:
The ball becomes immediately dead when:

  1. The coach near third base runs in the direction of home plate or near the baseline and draws a throw to home plate.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7M)
  2. A coach intentionally interferes with a batted or thrown ball or interferes with the defensive team’s opportunity to make a play on another runner.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7O)

Offensive Team Member
The ball becomes dead immediately when:

  1. After a runner has scored and missed home plate, they are physically assisted back to home plate.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7E – Exception)
  2. A member(s) of the offensive team stand or collect around a base to which the runner is advancing, confusing the fielders and adding to the difficulty of the play.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7N)
  3. A retired runner interferes with the defensive team’s opportunity to make a play on another runner.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7P)

The On-Deck Batter:
The ball becomes dead immediately when:

  1. The on-deck batter interferes with a defensive player’s opportunity to make an out.  (Rule 7, Sec. 1D)

The Spectator
The ball becomes dead immediately when:

  1. A spectator reaches into live ball territory and interferes with a fielder’s opportunity to catch a fly ball.  (Rule 8, Sec. 2N)
  2.  There is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball.  (Rule 8, Sec. 5L)

The Catcher:
The ball becomes dead immediately when:

  1. (Obstruction) The catcher steps on or in front of home plate without the ball and prevents the batter from hitting the ball.  (Rule 8, Sec. 1D [3])
  2. (Obstruction) In Fast Pitch, on a swing or attempted bunt, the catcher or any other fielder interferes with the batter or their bat when a squeeze play is being attempted.  (Rule 8, Sec. 1D [4])

The Umpire:
The ball becomes dead immediately when:

  1. A fair batted ball contacts an umpire before passing a fielder other than the pitcher.  (Rule 8, Sec. 1E [7])

Equipment on the Playing Field
The ball becomes dead immediately when:

  1. Any loose equipment belonging to the offense or the defense and is not involved in the game, is struck with a thrown or batted ball.  (Rule 8, Sec. 5G –Exception [3], Rule Supplement #17)

Other situations that are similar to violations and carry an award
The ball becomes dead immediately in all the following situations:

  1. When a fair batted ball, bounces over, rolls under or through or deflects over a fence.  (Rule 8, Sec. 5H&I)
  2. Is intentionally or unintentionally carried out of play.  (Rule 8, Sec 5J&K)
  3. When a ball gets lodged in an Umpire’s gear or offensive player’s clothing.  (Rule 8, Sec. 5M)
  4. When the ball is live and is overthrown or is blocked.  (Rule 8, Sec. 5G [1&3]
  5. In Fast Pitch, when a batter is hit by a pitch.  (Rule 8, Sec. 6D & E)
  6. When an intentionally dropped ball is declared.  (Rule 8, Sec. 6H)

In trying to remember which is live and which a delayed dead ball, we can benefit from knowing the concept behind both situations and the team who has violated the Rule.  Let’s take a closer look at each.

Although not formally defined in Rule 1, a live ball is a ball that is in play.  In these particular situations the Rule violations will be committed by the offensive team. They are violations committed while runners are on the base and then abandon that base or while they are running the bases.  We will keep the ball live to allow the defense to have the opportunity to retire other runners who did not commit the violation and have the opportunity to advance and even score.  If the violation is the third out of the inning, whether the run scores or does not score, will be governed by the applications in Rule 5, Sec. 5B [1-3] & C. Below are the live ball situations to which we refer:
            The ball remains live when:   

  1. A runner deliberately removes their helmet during a live ball play.  (Rule 3, 5E –Offense, Effect)
  2. The runner physically passes another runner before that runner has been called out.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7D)
  3. (Interference)  An offensive team member (including a coach), other than another runner, physically assists a runner while the ball is live.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7E)
  4. When a runner runs out of the base path to avoid a tag.  (Rule 8. Sec. 7A)
  5. When a runner who is positioned behind and not in contact with a base, attempts to get a running start on a fly ball.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7V)
  6. When a runner abandon’s a base and enters the team area or leaves live ball territory.  (Rule 8, Sec. 7U)

 A delayed-dead ball is a situation which allows the play to continue even though a violation by the defense has been committed.  This allows the offense to advance as far as it would have had the violation not occurred or in some cases to a prescribed base.  After those bases have been achieved, the runners are then liable to be put out.  Below are the delayed-dead ball situations
Situations where there is a violation and the play continues under delayed-dead ball provisions are when:

  1. An illegal pitch is committed.  (Rule 6, FP, SP, Mod., 16”)
  2. (Interference)  The plate umpire interferes with the catcher’s attempt to throw out a runner who is attempting to steal or on a pick-off attempt.  (Rule 8, Sec.6F)
  3. (Detached Equipment) A fielder intentionally contacts or catches a fair batted, a thrown, or a pitched ball with any part of the uniform or equipment which is detached from its proper place.  (Rule 8, Sec. 5F)
  4. (Catcher’s Obstruction) The catcher obstructs a batter’s attempt to hit a pitched ball.  (Rule 8, Sec. 1D)
  5. (Obstruction)  A fielder not in possession of the ball or not in the act of fielding a batted ball obstructs the progress of a runner or Batter-Runner.  (Rule 8, Sec. 5B)

  There is one situation that has the appearance of a violation, but is not one and does not      
  have a penalty.

  1. When a fair batted ball hits a runner while they are standing on a base:
    1. If the ball has passed the fielder closest to the base the ball remains live.
    2. If the ball has not passed the fielder closest to the base, the ball becomes dead.

Rule Book Interpretations

Rule 3 Section 1D Grip: it has been noted that the wording that the grip tape of a minimum of 6 inches to a maximum of 15” has noted designated starting area as it did few years ago. This rule is not different than a few years ago in that the tape needs to start at the knob and not be a minimum of 6 inches from the knob to a maximum of 15” from the knob. We will ask to see if we need to add these words back into the rule and if so we will have then added back as part of a rule change approved by the ASA Council.

Rule Section 7 All Equipment: As noted in the new rule changes the addition of heating devices to heat equipment has been designated as illegal. These are specific devices that will warm the equipment by artificial means. There are also bat holder type covers that protect bats from nick, dings, scratches and dents that do not, by design, warm equipment. In fact they do no more than protect a bat like a bat bag does. They should not be ruled illegal.

Umpire Manual Fixes

In the 2012 Umpire Manual there is a wording mistake in the Three Umpire System in a few sections. These are, with a runner on 2B only, 1B and 2B, 2B and 3B and Bases Loaded in the sections of Ground Ball to the Infield, and Base Hit to the Outfield. The verbiage used in the Umpire Manual for the movement of the Plate Umpire in these situations is “Move out from behind the plate toward the “holding zone” in foul ground and read the play. As we all know there is no holding zone in a Three Umpire System so the wording could be misleading. It was originally used to describe the plate umpire moving out toward 3B or what we refer to as the holding zone. In these situations the DVD says, “The Plate Umpire should move out from behind the plate and read the play.”  These are the words that will be changed in the 2013 Umpire Manual.

Plays and Rulings

Play: (Slow Pitch with stealing) R1 on 3B with one out. B3 receives ball four and proceeds to 1B. In (A) the ball is returned to the pitcher and all playing action has ceased and B3 continues to 2B. In (B) the ball is returned to the pitcher and F1 fakes a throw to F5 since R1 is off 3B and B3 continues to 2B.

Ruling: In (A) B3 is only allowed to go to 1B and since there is no play on another runner or an errant throw. In (B) B3 is allowed to continue to 2B since there was a fake throw to F5 on R1 who is on 3B. A fake throw is considered a play.
(Rule 8 Section 1C [2])

Play: (Fast Pitch) With no outs and R1 on 2B B2 swings at strike three, and the catcher misses the ball and it rolls out in front of the plate. B2 immediately moves to run to 1B and F2 stops to let B2 by before trying to pick up the ball. The umpire calls dead ball and the batter out for interference.

Ruling: If in the judgment of the umpire the Batter-Runner interfered with F2s ability to make a play then B2 would be out. If in the judgment of the umpire the Batter-Runner did not confuse, hinder or impede F2 from making a play then no interference could also be the call in this play. Bottom line this call is umpire judgment.

Rule 1 definitions and Rule 8 Section 2F [6}

February Rules and Clarifications (PDF)

February Rules and Clarifications (Word)