Each spring special times arrive and this is one of them. For some ASA umpires the season is already underway in the warm weather climates. For others, where it’s still winter, preparations are underway with clinics, training sessions, digging out the umpire gear and getting ready to start the season of softball. What will be different for you in 2012? The answer to that question can go one of two ways.
This could be the year when you move your game to the next level. For this to happen, you must formulate a plan. Ask yourself this question: Will this be the year that I take steps to address my fitness and focus preparation? Remember that “fitness and focus” go hand in hand. When you are physically and mentally fit you have more strength and endurance. This can be obtained by something as simple as a twenty minute walking and stretching program that you begin today so that when you hit the field in April you will have a new base level of energy that you have not had in years.
At the same time, participate in the ASA National Office’s emphasis of “Getting Back in the Book”. Keep a copy of the Umpire Rule Book handy and study a rule or mechanic for twenty minutes during your lunch break. You will be amazed at how quickly you will develop a feeling of comfort and confidence in your ability to apply the correct rule to a particular play.
With these two simple steps, you will have developed a plan that will help you reach the next plateau in your umpiring career. On the other hand, you can simply prepare for this season the same as you have in the past and end this season at the same level you were last year and the year before.
It is probably safe to say that you would not think of going on vacation without a plan. Then why lose a year of umpiring without making significant progress on the field. Start now to develop your personal program of future success in umpiring. Take charge of your career and be the best umpire you can be. Remember, you represent the “best trained softball umpires in the world.” Have a Great Season of ASA Softball.
PLAYS AND RULINGS
PLAY: With two outs and bases loaded, B6 hits a line drive over F6's head and all runners advance one base but R1 misses the plate. R2 gets in a rundown and is tagged out between 3B and home plate. After R2 is put out for the third out, R1 goes back to touch home plate before the defense makes a fourth out appeal on R1 for missing the plate.
RULING:R1 is allowed to touch home plate even though the 3rd out has been recorded. Rule 5 Section 5B  states that “No run shall be scored if the third out of the inning is the result of: A runner being put out by a tag or live ball appeal play prior to the lead runner touching home plate.” Rule 8 Section 8P: The Runner Is not out; When a runner legally returns to a base left too soon or missed prior to an appeal being made, or is returning to a base during a dead ball.” Therefore, since the defense can appeal a runner missing home after the 3rd out for a fourth out appeal, then a runner must have the opportunity to go back and touch home plate prior to the dead ball appeal.
Rule 8, Section 3B “…when a runner passes a base, the runner is considered to have touched that base.” In this situation, R1 has passed home plate before the 3rd out was made. Therefore, they are allowed to go back and touch home plate before an appeal. The runner would not be allowed to retouch any other base after the third out was made because they would have to touch home on their way back to the missed base.
PLAY: R1 on 3B, R2 on 2B and R3 on 1B with two outs. B6 hits an extra base hit to the outfield, R1 scores, and R2 rounds third but misses the base and scores. An appeal is made on R2 for missing 3B.
RULING: R2 is ruled out and no runs score. Rule 1 Force Out, Rule 5, Section 5B . No run shall score if the third out of the inning is a result of: A batter-runner being called out prior to reaching first base or any other runner forced out due to the batter becoming a batter-runner. On an appeal play, the force out is determined when the appeal is made, not when the infraction occurred.
PLAY: One out R1on 1B. B3 swings and misses at strike three. B3 turns to walk back to the dugout as F2 realizes that R1 is stealing 2B. F2 steps forward to throw R1 out but stops in the middle of the play because B3 is in the way. R1 goes into 2B uncontested. When all playing action has ceased the coach of the team on defense asks for time and comes out to ask for an explanation as to why the umpire didn’t rule interference on B3
RULING: R1 is safe at 2B and B3 is not guilty of interference. Rule 1 Interference, Rule 7, Section 6P or 6Q: The batter is out: When hindering the catcher from catching or throwing the ball by stepping out of the batter’s box or when actively hindering the catcher while in the batter’s box. In this case the umpire judged that the batter did not impede, hinder or confuse the defense from executing a play. If the umpire had judged there was interference since B3 was already out then R1 would have also been called out. Rule 8 Section 7P
PLAY: JO Fast Pitch, the defensive team in the field has optic yellow shorts on, including the pitcher who also has optic yellow knee pads covering her knees.
RULING: Legal. We do not control color of uniforms or of knee pads in any classification of play.
Rule 5 Section 6: All players on a team shall properly wear uniforms that are like in color and style. Sleeves or straps of the uniform top may be adjusted, with or without tie-ups, to the comfort of the players, provided uniform numbers remain visible. If because of the blood rule a change is required and the uniform part does not match, the player will not be penalized. All protective equipment should be worn properly. If a player is requested by the umpire to remove jewelry, illegal shoes or illegal parts of the uniform and they refuse, the player will not be allowed to play. Coaches, players and team representative shall not display the names and/or logos of any other softball association on their uniforms. EXCEPTION: Men's E Rec the only uniform requirement is matching shirt with number.
Rule 3 Section 6B PANTS/SLIDING PANTS:
All players’ pants may be long, short, or mixed in style, as long as they are like in color. Players may wear a solid-colored pair of sliding pants. It is not mandatory that all players wear sliding pants, but if more than one player wears them, they must be like in color and style. No player may wear ragged, frayed or slit legs on exposed sliding pants.
Rule 3 Section 6C: UNDERSHIRTS:
Players may wear a solid-colored undershirt. It is not mandatory that all players wear an undershirt, but if more than one player wears one, they must be like in color and style. No player may wear ragged, frayed or slit sleeves on exposed undershirts.
Rule 6 Section 6B Fast Pitch:A pitcher shall not wear any item on the pitching hand, wrist, forearm, elbow or thighs, which may, in the umpire’s judgment, be distracting to the batter. Batting gloves may not be worn on the pitching hand.