USA Softball News May 2012 Plays and C...

May 2012 Plays and Clarifications

May 31, 2012, 12:48 p.m. (ET)

May 2012 Plays and Clarifications

New Option to View Approved Bats

We have leagues all over the country that follow the ASA Bat Rule as written in our ASA Umpire Manual, Official Rules of Softball, specifically Rule 3, Section 1A [1-3]. Many leagues adopt portions of this bat rule. For example they may only allow Single-Wall Aluminum bats in their league but the bat must be listed on the ASA Approved Bat List. Even though they are listed on the ASA Approved Bat List they can be hard to distinguish sometimes when looking at the complete list.

To help our leagues around the country, our umpires and our players, Steve Walker of our IT department has added a new tab in the Certified Equipment area of the ASA web page. When you go to and click on the Certified Equipment tab, scroll down and click on GO next to bats. Once you are there, go to display all and click GO. At the top of that page you will see click here to select all by type, click on that. Scroll down and you will see a drop down box with the selections of Composite, Wood, Multi-Wall aluminum and Single-Wall Aluminum. When you click on a selection it will show you all the approved bats in that category. Please access this if you have any question about a bat construction, it is a very useful tool.

Youth Umpires:

ASA has been asked several times if there is a minimum age for a youth to be a registered umpire. ASA has no minimum age requirements for an umpire to be registered as an ASA Umpire. This is a Local Association and Local League decision. We would hope that all Associations and Leagues use good reasoning when scheduling youth umpires which should be, “can this umpire handle this Classification of Softball”. We hope this helps clarify the question of an age requirement for registering youth umpires.

When can Umpires Correct the Count

We as umpires, sometime in our umpire career, thought we had the count wrong or had the wrong count and passed it on to the players and coaches.  When an umpire realizes the error, when and how can it be corrected? The answer is, an umpire can correct the count on a batter at any point during the batter’s time at bat and before a pitch to the next batter. Example:

PLAY: With 2 outs, R1 on 3B and a count of three balls and one strike on B4, the next pitch is a ball.  The umpire calls ball but does not recognize it as ball four. The next pitch to the same batter is fouled off and the umpire gives the count as three balls and two strikes. In a) the offensive coach asks for time, approaches the plate umpire and says “their batter should be on 1B because the previous pitch was ball four.” In b) the umpire gives the count as three balls and two strikes and the next pitch is hit for a home run.  Before a pitch to the next batter the defensive coach approaches the plate umpire and said the count was wrong and that player should have been walked. 
Ruling:  In a) once the umpires get together, discuss the situation and discover the count was wrong, B4 should be awarded 1B since B4 should have received a base on balls two pitches before. In b) once the umpires get together, discuss the situation and discovered the count was wrong, B4 should be placed on 1B because B4 should have been awarded a base on balls two pitches before.

Rule 1 Definition Base on Ball and Rule Misinterpretation of a playing rule - must be made:
1. before the next pitch legal or illegal,
2. before the next play
3. before all infielders have left fair territory,
4. on the last play of the game, before the umpires leave live ball territory

Fast Pitch Pitching Styles

For the past few months or so we have been asked about a pitching style called a “Push, Drag, Push” or a “Crow Drag in Women’s and Junior Olympic Fast Pitch. This is described as a pitcher that pushes from the pitcher’s plate, drags her pivot foot, stops and pushes again. We have been told that there are some indicators like a bent leg or the pivot foot bearing weight as a factor in this style of pitching. We have looked at several videos and several pitchers. We disagree that any of these pitchers are pushing, dragging, stopping and pushing again. We can see what appears to be a pivot by the pivot foot at the end of their delivery but not a re-push.

Nowhere in the ASA rules does it state anything illegal about the pivot foot bearing weight or the leg being bent. As long as the pivot foot starts on the pitcher's plate and pushes away, remains on the ground within the 24-inch width of the pitcher's plate and the arm continues without stopping in the delivery, it is a legal pitch. The pitcher opening her hips causes the foot to turn (pivot mark in the dirt) and then with pivot foot remaining on the ground (drag mark), the pitcher then closes her hips which produces another pivot mark in the dirt.  This is not an illegal pitch by ASA pitching rules. We would also add, it is not possible to push, drag, stop and re-push while the non-pivot foot is in the air. It is possible to re-push if you leap and land.

When watching a pitcher, look from the standpoint they are legal until they do something illegal. Break the rule down to the simplest of terms:
Rule 6, Section 1C[2]: The pitcher shall take a position with both feet in contact with the pitcher’s plate.
Rule 6, Section 2: The pitch starts when the hands are separated once they have been placed together.
Rule 6, Section 3I: In the act of delivering the ball, the pitcher must take one step with the non-pivot foot simultaneous with the release of the ball. The step must be forward and toward the batter within the 24-inch length of the pitcher’s plate. It is not a step if the pitcher slides the pivot foot across the pitcher’s plate toward the batter, or if the pivot foot turns or slides in order to push off the pitcher’s plate, provided contact is maintained with the plate. Raising the foot off the pitching plate and returning it to the plate creates a rocking motion and is an illegal act.
Rule 6 Section 3K: Pushing off and dragging the pivot foot in contact with the ground is required. If a hole has been created, the pivot foot may drag no higher than the level plane of the ground.
Following our rules in simple form should make it easier to determine an illegal pitch in our Women’s and Junior Olympic game.

Plays and Rulings

Play: B1, the pitcher, hits a double in the second inning. B1 is replaced by the Courtesy Runner. After a pitch to B2 the defense point out that the Courtesy Runner was the same player who ran as the Courtesy Runner for the catcher.

Ruling: The same courtesy runner may not run for both the pitcher and the catcher at any time during the game. This makes this person an illegal runner and is disqualified and can be replaced by a legal substitute, the pitcher or a legal Courtesy Runner. Rule 4, Section 3a-c, Rule 8, Section 10A[3]

Play:  With R1 on 1B, B2 bunts the ball fair. F3 and F1 collide while fielding the ball as F4 covers 2B.  F3 picks up the ball and throws to 1B and hit B2 in the back outside the running lane with no defense covering 1B. The umpire calls “Dead Ball” and declares B2 out for running outside the running lane.

Ruling: Incorrect procedure. B2 cannot be out since there is no defensive player covering 1B to interfere with. The play should have continued allowing R1 and B4 to advance with liability to be put out.  Rule 8, Section 2E:

Play: B1 receives ball four and the ball is returned to F1 in the circle. B1 runs toward 1B and rounds it, stops and returns to 1B. The coach asks for time and wants B1 out on the Look Back Rule.

Ruling: B1 is not out for rounding 1B, stopping and retuning to 1B. A batter-runner may round 1B, stop, and then must immediately return to 1B or attempt to advance to 2B when the pitcher has the ball in the circle. Rule 8, Section 7T[3a]

Play: With no outs, R1 on 1B, B2 hits a ground ball to the outfield. R1 rounds 2B and is obstructed halfway to 3B.  B2 is standing still between 2B and 3B when the ball is returned to F1 in the circle.  F1 makes no attempt to play on R1.  Immediately after F1 receives the ball in the circle, R1 starts moving back toward 2B.  Prior to reaching 2B, R1 reverses her direction and runs safely to 3B. What is the ruling?

Ruling: Once R1, the obstructed runner, violates the Look Back Rule, the umpire should call dead ball, and award R1and B2 the base or bases which would have been reached, in the umpire’s judgment, had there not been obstruction. Violation of the Look Back Rule does not meet any of the exceptions of protecting the runner between the bases they were obstructed. Rule 8, Section 7T [1-2] EFFECT:  and Rule 8, Section 5B [2] Exception.

May Rules and Clarifications (PDF)

May Rules and Clarifications (Word)