The 2019 Championship season is upon USA Softball and all local associations. We know how hard each umpire works to prepare to perform to their fullest on the field. A few helpful tools to continue to reference to stay on top of your game.
We see that umpires are doing a pretty good job studying the Rulebook. That same emphasis is needed with the current USA Softball Mechanics Manual which is online at, https://www.teamusa.org/usa-softball/umpires/umpire-manual.
There is added information to help add clarity and philosophy as to why we perform our mechanics along with a Points on Emphasis section at the front highlighting the most commonly missed mechanics across the U.S. last year. You are encouraged to review this information as it will allow you to be better prepared to execute the USA Softball mechanics as they are intended to put you in the best position based on each unique play you see during your games. We are invested in your personal success on and off the field, so please get into the new Umpire Manual as we know it will help you prepare for the Championship you are assigned.
Play: R1 on 1B with one out. B3 hits a line drive to F1 who catches the ball in the air. R1 left 1B on contact and was on their way to 2B when the ball was caught. F1 throws the ball to F3 at 1B who catches the ball and steps on the orange portion of the base for out number three. R1 retreats to 1B and protests that they are not out because F3 used the orange portion of the base and is required to use the white portion of the base.
Ruling: R1 is out for leaving the base to soon on a caught fly ball. By rule F3 can use either colored portion of the double base at 1B when appealing a runner leaving too soon. The runner can also use either colored portion of the double base at 1B when tagging up on a caught fly ball. Rule 8, Section 2C, Rule 8, Section 2N  and Rule 8, Section 7F
Play: R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B with one out. B4 hits a fly ball to F6. With F6 under the fly ball to make the catch R1 runs into F6 prior to F6 contacting the fly ball.
Ruling: The ball is dead and R1 is out for interference. When R1 contacted F6 the ball status was fair therefor the ball is a fair ball and B4 is also out on the infield fly. Rule 1 Definition Infield Fly, Rule 1 Definition of a fair ball (D), Rule 8, Section 2I, and Rule 8, Section 7J .
The question from this play always seems to be centered around when a batter is out on an infield fly. Since the definition of an infield fly states “A fair fly ball, not including a line drive or an attempted bunt, which can be caught by an infielder, pitcher or catcher with ordinary effort when first and second or first, second and third bases are occupied with less than two outs,” a batter is not out until the ball has been determined to be fair. In this play, by rule the interference happened while the ball was over fair ball territory. Rule 1 Definition of a fair ball letter D states; A legally batted ball that while over fair territory, an offensive player interferes with a defensive player attempting to field a batted ball. The ball now becomes fair and the batter is out on the infield fly.
Play: R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B with one out. B4 hits a fly ball to F3. The umpire declares infield fly if fair. B4 runs into F3 before F3 is able to catch the fair fly ball.
Ruling: The ball is dead and B4 is out on the infield fly. Runners return to the base occupied at the time of the pitch. Rule 1 Definition Infield Fly, Rule 1 (D) Definition of a fair ball, Rule 8, Section 2J Rule 8, Section 2I.
The rule reference Rule 8, Section 2J states; When an infield fly is declared, and the fair batted ball hits the batter-runner before reaching first base.
1 The ball is dead.
2 The infield fly is invoked.
Even though the ball does not hit B4 the intent of our rule is if the batter-runner interferes with and infield fly before it legally becomes a fair ball, the ball should become dead and the batter-runner should be declared out on the infield fly. This allows for the runners to be put back on the base they started from versus the last base touched if we called interference.
Play: R1 on 1B with one out. B3 hits a ground ball to F6 who throws the ball to F4 to force R1 at 2B. R1 is out and throws their hands in the air while F4 is throwing to 1B to in an attempt double up B3.
Ruling: If the umpire judged the throwing of the hands in the air confused, hindered or impedes F4 from throwing to 1B you would have interference and B3 would also be called out. Rule 8, Section 7P.