Summer Baseball - Rules & Regulations

Rules and Regulations

The WIAA Board of Control approved the Baseball Coaches recommended pitch count restrictions that were advanced by the WIAA Sport Medical Advisory Committee.  The restrictions will go into effect for the 2017 spring and summer seasons.

The Pitch Count grid is a tool for coaches to use and the pitch count recorder is only a recommendation.

Pitch Count Restrictions | Pitch Count FAQ
Pitch Count Grid | Pitch Count Tracking Sheet
Pitch Count Log - Excel (xls)

Answer to a common question as the MLB rules have allowed a return to two piece catcher's protection head gear:

Q:  I have a question for you concerning catchers head protection in baseball. It is our understanding that the older style head protection consisting of the scull cap – (no earflaps)  and the wire faceguard  is illegal at the HS level. The newer hockey style head protection is legal and approved at the HS level for baseball catchers. Is this correct? Can you send me the ruling on this? We have a number of coaches and players wanting to order the style we feel is illegal.

A:  You are correct.  Those are illegal and have been for quite some time.  They must have full ear protection.  
Rule 1 Players, Field and Equipment
ART. 3 . . . The catcher shall wear, in addition to a head protector, a mask with a throat protector, body protector, protective cup (male only), and baseball protective shin guards.
ART. 4 . . . The catcher's helmet and mask combination shall meet the NOCSAE standard. Any helmet or helmet and mask combination shall have full ear protection (dual ear flaps). A throat protector, which is either a part of or attached to the catcher's mask, is mandatory. A throat protector shall adequately cover the throat. The commercially manufactured catcher's head, face and throat protection may be a one-piece or multi-piece design. While in a crouch position, any non-adult warming up a pitcher at any location shall wear a head protector, a mask with a throat protector and a protective cup (male only).
PENALTY: Failure by a player to wear proper equipment after being so ordered by the umpire, shall result in ejection. 


Printable Version - Please print and place in your rules book.

NFHS Adds Pitch Count Restrictions

By Maddie Koss, NFHS

High school baseball rules now will require a pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown in a game. 

(Note:  The WIAA Board of Control passed a pitch count for baseball in June.  Click HERE.)

The revised pitching policy in Rule 6-2-6 was one of six rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 5-7 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Each NFHS member state association will be required to develop its own pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown during a game to afford pitchers a required rest period between pitching appearances.

“We’re pleased that the rules committee worked in conjunction with the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to find an acceptable and reasonable modification to this rule in order to emphasis the risk that occurs when pitchers overuse their throwing arm,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball.

The Baseball Rules Committee also revised Rule 2-32-2 regarding sliding into home plate. The revised language states: “At home plate, it is permissible for the slider’s momentum to carry him through the plate in the baseline extended.” The committee altered this rule since the physical design of home plate makes it difficult for a runner to break momentum on a slide – as opposed to the other three elevated bases which are elevated.  

The committee also revised Rule 3-3-1, which states the umpire has the ability to give three warnings to a coach or player before he or she is removed from the game.

“Officials now have the opportunity to provide a tiered warning system for coaches or players,” Hopkins said. “It provides the coaches or players with a teachable moment to change their unsportsmanlike behavior in order to stay in the game.”

A new article 6 was added to Rule 8-3 to provide a rules reference for an existing ruling in the Baseball Case Book. The new article reads: “When a plate umpire hinders, impedes or prevents a catcher’s throw attempting to prevent a stolen base or retire a runner on a pickoff play, if an out is not made at the end of the catcher’s initial throw, the ball shall be dead and all runners shall return to the bases occupied at the time of the interference.”

The rules committee also approved an addition to Rule 8-4-2, which states that any runner is out when he is physically assisted by a coach. This rule change supports a revision in Rule 3-2-2 Penalty, which states that the runner shall be called out immediately when he is physically assisted by a coach.

A complete listing of the baseball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Baseball.”

According to the 2015-16 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 486,567 boys participating in baseball at 15,899 schools across the country, and 1,203 girls playing the sport in 260 schools.

Rule Changes:

2-32-2c: Clarified when a base runner can slide through home plate in a straight line.

3-2-2 PEN: Clarified when a coach-assisted runner is declared out.

3-3-1 PEN: Developed a three-step process when administering disciplinary action to a player(s) or coach(es) for inappropriate behavior on the bench and in the field.

6-1-6: Clarified that the pitching restriction is based on number of pitches thrown.

8-3-6: Clarified when an umpire hinders the actions of the catcher in a defensive attempt and how baserunning awards are administered.

8-4-2s: A companion rule to support the above-mentioned 3-2-2 PEN modification regarding coaches’ and players’ conduct.

Points of Emphasis

1. Correct use of authenticated marked baseballs
2. Umpires asking assistance from partner on call
3. Positioning of team personnel
4. Legal slides

The NFHS Baseball Rules Committee and the NFHS Board of Directors believe there are areas of the game of interscholastic baseball that need to be addressed and given special attention. These areas of concern are often cyclical, some areas need more attention than others, and that is why they might appear in the rules book for consecutive editions. These concerns are identified as “Points of Emphasis.” For the 2017 high school baseball season, attention is being called to: correct use of NFHS Authenticated Mark Program baseballs, umpires asking assistance from his partner on a call, positioning of team personnel and legal slides. When a topic is included in the Points of Emphasis, these topics are important enough to reinforce throughout the academic year because they are not being given the proper attention.

The NFHS AMP program was designed in 2000 to ensure that the equipment used in interscholastic contests is manufactured consistently and meets certain physical requirements. By using conforming equipment, players, coaches and officials can rest assured that the baseballs used are designed for the age group for which playing rules are written for interscholastic competition. All such balls are required to display the NFHS Authenticating Mark. Manufacturers make balls to our standards and expect that their products are purchased for game competition. Using non-AMP balls puts players, coaches, fans and umpires at risk of injury and in consistent playability which hurts high school baseball. Using baseballs that meet the AMP requirements are good for our young people and even better for our game.

Often during contests, a coach will request that an umpire seek assistance from his partner for a particular call or play situation. Asking assistance from a partner is not mandatory. It is the discretion of the plate umpire if he feels that his view was obstructed or that his partner had a better angle on the play. If he does feel that his partner’s perspective will provide additional input to his final decision, then he has the flexibility to request his partner’s help. Once the opinion is shared, it is the plate umpire who will make the final determination on the call or play. This entire exchange will be quick and intentional using umpire signals that are relayed to players, coaches and spectators.

Coaches, players, substitutes, attendants or other bench personnel shall not leave the dugout during live ball for any unauthorized purpose. Coaches or team personnel may not sit outside the dugout/bench on buckets or stools. Players are not allowed to stand or kneel outside their dugout/bench and make “cat-calls” or any other disparaging remarks while the other team is taking infield practice. This is unsportsmanlike behavior and will not be tolerated in interscholastic baseball. Umpires and coaches need to work together for the benefit of the students they officiate and teach. It is these game situations that provide coaches and umpires excellent “teachable moments” to reinforce proper behavior and perspective. The positive values that are learned at the baseball diamond will serve the young people long after their high school careers have ended.

There has been a misnomer that on any given play the base runner has to slide into the base he is trying to acquire. Even the universally accepted “force play slide” is misconstrued as the player having to slide into the base. NFHS rules are specific and very clear – runners are never required to slide. However, if they choose to slide then the slide must be legal. A player can legally slide either feet first or head first. If a player chooses feet first, then at least one leg and buttock shall stay in contact with the ground. A slide is illegal if the runner uses a rolling, cross-body or pop-up slide, into the fielder, or if the runner’s raised leg is higher than the fielder’s knee (while he is in a standing position), if the runner goes beyond the base and then makes contact with the fielder or alters his play, if the runner slashes or kicks the fielder, if the runner intentionally tries to injure the fielder and during a force play situation, the runner does not slide on the ground and in a direct line between the two bases. When a runner slides, he must slide within reach of the base with either hand or a foot. The consequence is that the runner is called out and based upon his actions there could possibly be malicious contact and the runner would be ejected from the game. Attention to when it is appropriate to slide and to do it legally will improve the overall process of baserunning, reduce unnecessary injuries to the runner and the covering fielder, and make for a more exciting game to watch and enjoy.

Baseball Rules Interpretations - 2017

By NFHS on February 10, 2017 baseball

Publisher’s Note: The National Federation of State High School Associations is the only source of official high school interpretations. They do not set aside nor modify any rule. They are made and published by the NFHS in response to situations presented. Robert B. Gardner, Publisher, NFHS Publications © 2017

SITUATION 1: The coach runs out of the dugout, yelling profanity and throwing his hat at the base umpire as he disputes a call. RULING: When an unsportsmanlike act involving profane language directed at an umpire is judged to be a major violation, the penalty is an immediate ejection. No warning is necessary. These actions warrant an immediate ejection. (3-3- 1f2 Penalty)

SITUATION 2: While objecting to a call, the head coach commits what he believes is a minor offense. However, due to the nature of the offense, the umpire issues a written warning and restricts the coach to the dugout. The coach states that since he has not yet received a verbal warning, he cannot be given a written warning and subsequently be restricted to the bench. RULING: A coach does not have to first receive a verbal warning to receive a written warning. The three options available to an umpire do not have to be completed in succession. Umpires do not have to give a verbal warning before issuing a written warning. Additionally, for major offenses, an offender shall be ejected immediately. The coach is restricted to the dugout. (3-3-1fk Penalty)

SITUATION 3: In the third inning, the head coach was restricted to the bench/dugout because one of his players was discovered to be using an illegal bat while at bat. In the fifth inning, the head coach commits a minor violation in arguing a call. The minor violation by itself does not warrant an ejection. RULING: The head coach is eject-ed. Because the head coach was previously restricted, he shall be ejected for any subsequent offense. (3-3-1f Penalty, 4-1-3b Penalty)

SITUATION 4: After a close play at second base on an attempted steal where the base umpire judged the runner out, the player addresses the umpire with his thoughts on the umpire’s decision. RULING: Since the statements by the player are such that they cannot be ignored, the player is ejected. Players, except for illegal substitution, cannot be restricted to the bench for misconduct. (3-1-1, 3-3-1f2 Penalty)

SITUATION 5: Early in the game, the home team received a team warning for a player wearing a bandanna. A few innings later the coach argues a call and is issued a verbal warning. Because of the previous team warning the coach is ejected. RULING: Incorrect procedure. The previous team warning is just that – a warning to the team with the next offender on the team being ejected. It is not an action against the head coach. All the coach has received is a verbal warning for his actions in arguing a call and is not restricted. (3-3- 1d Penalty, 3-3-1f Penalty)

SITUATION 6: For a minor offense in the third inning, the head coach was restricted to the bench. In the fifth inning, his assistant coach leaves his coaching box to object to a call at second base. RULING: The assistant coach will receive a written warning and will be restricted to the dugout for the remainder of the game. With the head coach already restricted, he is now ejected from the game due to the penalty for the assistant coach leaving his coaching box to argue a call. (3-3-1f6 Penalty)

SITUATION 7: With bases loaded and no outs, the batter hits a slow ground ball to the shortstop, who fields the ball and throws home. The runner from third base slides in a direct line between third base and home plate and arrives at home before the ball arrives. The runner’s slide carries the runner over home plate and into the catcher, who is now unable to make a play on another runner because of the contact by the runner. There was nothing malicious in nature with the slide. RULING: Because the runner slides in a direct line between the two bases, it is permissible for his momentum to carry him through the plate in the baseline extended. With the slide being legal, merely sliding past home and into a fielder does not constitute an illegal act. The runner is safe and there is no resulting penalty. (2-32-2c)

SITUATION 8: With runners on second and third, the third-base runner is taking his lead-off position well in foul territory to the side of third base. The batter hits a ground ball to the second baseman, who fields the ball and throws home in an attempt to put out the runner advancing from third. The runner from third base, still in the base path he established when he first attempted to advance home, slides over home plate and into the catcher. The catcher was knocked down by the contact from the runner from third base and is unable to make a play on the batter-runner advancing to second base. RULING: Since the runner from third base slides in a straight line in his established base path, and there are no other aspects of the slide present that would make the slide illegal, the run counts and play continues. There is no penalty on the play. (2-32-2c)

SITUATION 9: The runner from third base slides past home plate, out of his established base path. He then contacts the catcher, preventing him from making a play on the runner at second base. RULING: If the play at home plate was a non-force play, the run would count, but the ball would be dead when the runner contacted the catcher. An out on the runner at second base would be called due to the third-base runner’s interference. If the play began as a force play, because the runner slides out of his base path, this is now force-play slide interference. The ball is immediately dead, the run will not count, and the runner plus the batter-runner will be declared out. (2-32- 2c, 8-4-2b Penalty)

SITUATION 10: The home team believes the visiting team’s pitcher has violated the state’s pitch-count policy by exceeding the maximum number of pitches as his team leads in the sixth inning, 8-0. The home team asks the plate umpire to forfeit the game or, at a minimum, have the pitcher removed as a pitcher. RULING: Each state association will set its own regulations and protocols for violation of Rule 6-1-6. The umpire should suggest the coach contact and/or notify the state association. (6-1-6)

SITUATION 11: On the first pitch of the at-bat, the runner on first base attempts to steal second base. The catcher brings his arm back to throw and makes contact with the plate umpire. The catcher (a) continues his throw but because of the contact throws the ball into center field, or (b) makes no throw as he dropped the ball. The runner arrives safely at second base. RULING: In both instances, this is umpire interference. The runner will be returned to first base. (8-3-6)

SITUATION 12: The pitch bounces off the catcher and rolls away from home plate. The plate umpire, trying to get out of the way of the catcher, moves into the catcher’s path as he attempts to retrieve the pitched ball. The contact causes the catcher to lose enough time so that he cannot make a play on the runner advancing. RULING: This is not umpire interference. The play stands. (8-3-6)

SITUATION 13: On an attempted steal of second base, the catcher throws quickly toward second base. The throw sails into the base umpire and rebounds off the umpire into right field. By the time the ball is retrieved, the runner advances to third base. RULING: This is not umpire interference. The play stands. (8-3-6)

SITUATION 14: With runners on second and third, and a fly ball is hit deep to right field, the third-base coach grabs the third base runner’s shirt to force him to tag properly. The runner from second base legally tags as the ball is caught. Both runners, during the course of the play, score. RULING: The runner at third base is called out immediately when the coach physically assisted him in tagging properly. Play continues and the run scored by the second-base runner will count. (3-2-2 Penalty, 8-4-2s)

SITUATION 15: With runners on first and third, a ball is hit to center field. The coach physically holds the runner up at third base until he sees that the fly ball is not caught. The runner from first base is later thrown out as he attempted to advance to third base. RULING: The runner at third base is immediately called out when the third-base coach physically prevented him from advancing until he knew if the fly ball was caught. Play continues and the first-base runner’s out at third base stands. (3-2-2 Penalty, 8-4-2s)

SITUATION 16: With a runner on first base, the batter hits a single down the right-field foul line. As the runner from first base nears second base, he is obstructed by the shortstop, which causes him to not touch second base. The runner continues to advance and arrives safely at third base. The defense calls “time,” and then appeals the runner missing second base. RULING: The runner is not out on appeal. If, in the umpire’s judgment, the obstruction caused the runner to miss second base, the appeal is denied and the runner’s advance is legal. (CB 8.2.5E)

SITUATION 17: The runner from first base is advancing to second base on a passed ball and is obstructed halfway to second base by the second baseman. The ball rolls farther away from the catcher allowing the runner to advance to third base. The runner failed to touch second base as he advanced. The defense calls “time,” and appeals the runner’s failure to touch second base. RULING: The runner is declared out on the valid appeal by the defense. In the umpire’s judgment, the runner’s failure to properly touch second base was not caused by the obstruction. (8-2-6c, CB 8.2.5E)

SITUATION 18: With two outs and a runner on third base, the batter hits a ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher fields the ball and throws home to retire the runner from third base. A run-down ensues and the runner is obstructed returning to third base. The defense gives up on the runner from third base and throws to retire the batter-runner who had touched first base and was advancing to second base. This third out occurs before the runner from third base advances and touches home. Does his run count? RULING: Yes. The runner will be awarded home due to the defense’s obstruction during the run-down back to third base. The obstruction award requires a minimum of a one-base award from where the runner was at the time of the obstruction. So, the runner is awarded home. The third out was a not a force out so the run will count. (8-3-2, 9-1-1)

SITUATION 19: With runners on first and third with one out, the batter takes a called third strike. Both runners were off on the pitch for a delayed double steal. The batter strides across home plate to return to his dugout as the catcher throws to second base. The batter contacts the catcher, batter’s interference is called by the plate umpire, but the catcher’s throw is still in time to record the out on the runner advancing from first base. The runner from third base scores before the out at second base. The defensive coach tells the plate umpire that he does not want the result of the play; he wants the penalty for the batter’s interference. RULING: The run will count. This is a time play and the run scored prior to the third out being made. Once the out was made on the runner at second, the batter interference is ignored. The defensive coach has no option available. (7-3-5 Penalty, 9-1-1)

SITUATION 20: Runners on first and third. The catcher attempts to pick off the runner at third base, who was not advancing to third base but was simply off the base. The batter leans over and interferes with the catcher attempting to throw to third. The catcher stops his throw to third and instead throws to second base to retire the runner from first base advancing on a delayed steal. During this play, the runner from third comes home to score. RULING: The plate umpire should have declared the ball dead when the catcher did not make the first play. The batter would be declared out and the runner returned to first base. The ball remains a delayed dead ball on the first play by the catcher. If an out does not occur, the ball shall become immediately dead. (5-2a.1., 7-3-5 Penalty)

Pace of Game Play

The NFHS baseball committee identified these areas in need of improvements that detract from what otherwise is an exciting and enjoyable game:

  • Handling offensive and defensive charged conferences in a timely manner.  
  • Speeding up the time between innings (1 minute) and during pitching changes.
  • Maintaining the time between pitches (20 seconds).
  • Umpires diligently counting the number of warm-up pitches.
  • The batter’s box rule (the batter must generally keep one foot in the box during an at-bat).  Unless it meets one of the eight exceptions:
    • The batter swings at the pitch.
    • The batter is forced out of the box by the pitch.
    • The batter attempts a “drag bunt.”
    • The pitcher or catcher feints or attempts a play at any base.
    • The pitcher leaves the dirt area of the pitching mound or takes a position more than five feet from the pitcher’s plate after receiving the ball.
    • A member of either team requests and is granted “Time.”
    • The catcher leaves the catcher’s box to adjust his equipment or give defensive signals.
    • The catcher does not catch the pitched ball.

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Wisconsin Interscholastic
Athletic Association
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