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Questions are organized according to the NFHS rule under which it falls.  Use your "find" feature to search for key words or phrases.

RULE 1:  Field and Equipment

Question 1:  A bat that has an audible rattle is brought to the attention of the umpire.  Later in the game the same batter, or another batter brings the same bat to the batter's box and the umpire warms the batter that she will be ejected if the bat is attempted to be used again.  Correct?

Answer:  Yes, A damaged bat is removed the first time without penalty, if the bat is brought back into the game, the batter is out and the batter and head coach are restricted to the bench for the remainder of the game.  (1-5-1b + c, 3-6-21)

Question 2:  B1 hits the ball and drops her bat into fair territory as she is heading to first base.  The bat is stationary and the ball has backspin and rolls into the stationary bat.

Answer:  This is a live ball and contacting the bat has no bearing on the play.  (Rule 1-8-3)

Question 3:  Is it legal for a player to wear her wristband/playcard attached to the belt loop of her softball pants?

Answer:  No, a wristband/playcard must be worn on the wrist (non-pitching arm) as the manufacturer intended.  1-8-5 and 3-2-7a.

Question 4:  I received a question regarding the legality of bat warming bags.  I wasn't familiar with this item and found that it involves using a microwave hot pack which is slid inside the warming bag.  I know we've talked about bat warmers in the dugouts being illegal.  Does the prohibition extend to these bags as well?

Answer:  Please refer to NFHS Rules Book. Rule 1-5-1 states “Materials inside the bat or treatments/devices used to alter the bat specifications and/or enhance performance (e.g. shaving, rolling, or artificially warning the bat barrel) are prohibited and render the bat illegal.

Question 5:  We are hosting a "pink" event.  Is it possible to paint our lines pink?

Answer:  Not allowed.  Please refer to Rule 1-1-8; "All lines on the field shall be white..."

Question 6:  Where can I find a list of legal and illegal bats?

Answer:  Please access the main WIAA website.  Go to “Sports”; select “Softball” from the pull down menu.  Scroll down the left side to “Rules and Regulations.” On the right-hand side of the page, click on “Certified ASA Equipment" or the Printable ASA Non-Certified Bat List.

Question 7:  A coach recently ordered new bats for his team and the bat company asked if he wanted them rolled. What is rolling of a bat and why would a company ask him if he wanted his new bats rolled if it is illegal?

Answer:  Rolling a bat is a method of breaking in the bat to create more exit speed of the ball off of the bat.  A machine is used to "roll" the bat, thereby making the wall of the bat barrel thinner. You are correct that this is illegal.  It’s a very expensive process and greatly shortens the life of the bat.  So if you are paying $250 for a bat and then have it rolled you may be investing $500 for a bat that won't last long.

Question 8:  Can a player legally have a hand warmer in her back pocket?  I'm thinking of the kind I'd take hunting for my kids to keep their hands warm.  Is the ruling any different if the player is a pitcher?

Answer:  Legal.  I am not aware of any prohibition against a hand warmer.

Question 9:  Pitcher had a glove with white on it.  Is it legal?  Not just the laces, some of the panels were white.

Answer:  Please reference the NFHS Case Book, 1.4.1, sit. B.  I would interpret your situation similar to this one.  If the glove in question has white panels, along with brown (you didn’t indicate) it would be legal as per Rule 1-4-1a & b.  Now that only optic yellow balls may be used the reference to “distracting” would no longer apply.

Question 10:  While working a game recently I asked the coach for their bat list.  He just looked at me.  Aren’t coaches supposed to have the bat list?

Answer:  The Softball Season Regulations, State Association Regulations state:  “Both head coaches and the umpires are responsible for being in possession of a current non-approved bat list from the ASA website.  The link to this website is:   You’ll find both the approved and non-approved lists here.

Question 11:  Our home field has a grass infield, but is fully fenced in with the fence at 230'.  Is it considered a legal field? (Updated: 3-20-17)

Answer:  While not preferred, a grass in-field is legal.  Per WIAA Softball Season Regulations, Sectional sites are awarded, when possible, on the basis of the following criteria: a. No baseball diamonds, b. Skinned infield or artificial turf, c. Outfield fence (185'-235'), d. Other (dugouts, restrooms, seating, parking, lights, scoreboard, irrigated fields)

Question 12:  Our field is not playable due to snow and neither is our opponent's. Do we need a waiver to play on another field that does not meet the outfield fence dimensions?

Answer:  No, a waiver is not necessary.  Please refer to the State Association Regulations:  "If neither team has a legal field the game will be played at the home team's field."

Question 13:  Is there a regarded distance from the pitcher’s mound to the outfield that has to be dirt?

Answer:  The skinned infield is recommended to be 60 feet.  The NFHS Rule Book has a complete diagram of the recommended layout of the softball diamond.  Please refer to Figure 1-1 and Figure 1-2 of the rule book.

Question 14:  Is this item legal?

Answer:  Legal per NFHS Rule 1-5-2a; "Devices, attachments or wrappings that cause the knob to become flush with the handle are permitted." Also, refer to the NFHS Case Book, 1.5.2, sit. A; "This is legal provided the device is against or over the knob (not used as a choke-up device) and securely attached."

Question 15:  If we paint our batting helmets to all be the same color, is this considered "altering" the helmet?

Answer:  You will need to contact the vendor you purchased the helmets from or the manufacturer to determine if painting the helmets would invalidate the warranty.  Each manufacturer addresses this issue differently.

Question 16:  At last night's game, the umpires would not allow our batters to use a "ring" on their bats while in the warm-up circle.  Where does it state that a ring is prohibited?

Answer:  The use of a ring or donut is not prohibited.  Rule 1-5-3 states; "Devices added to a bat for warm-up purposes shall be commercially manufactured specifically for a softball bat and shall be securely attached…"  The Case Book also has two situations addressing the legal use of a donut:  1.5.3, sit. A & C.

Question 17:  Can a softball coach mount a Go Pro camera on the fence to videotape the games?  Does the location of the camera matter – i.e., along the first base side, behind home plate, etc.?

Answer:  If the host site provides an area on the fence or the backstop where the camera may be mounted, there are no NFHS restrictions prohibiting a Go Pro to be utilized.  The video cannot be utilized during the contest for coaching purposes, however.  Please see the NFHS Situation below:

Rule 1.8.6 ART. 6 . . . The use of electronic devices by team personnel to transmit or record information pertaining to their players or team's performance shall be permitted within the team's dugout/bench area only.  Information obtained from an electronic device may be used for coaching purposes during the game. 1.8.6 SITUATION A: During a game, the team manager (a) videos the game from the dugout and gives it to the coach to review footage with players in between innings; (b) videos a game from the stands and gives it to the coach during the game to review with his/her pitcher in the pitching circle; (c) videos the play and gives it to the coach to protest a ruling made by the umpire on the field.  RULING: (a) legal, manager is part of “team personnel” and can use electronic devices for coaching purposes within the dugout; (b) illegal, only video can be reviewed in the dugout or bench area; (c) illegal, video footage cannot be used to protest a call made by the umpire. (3-6-8; 3-6-11)

Question 18:  Is this glove legal or illegal?

Click for Picture

Answer:  Illegal. NFHS Rule 1-4-1c, "Not have an optic-colored marking on the outside or inside that gives the appearance of the ball."  The optic yellow marking could give a perception of the ball being in the glove, which means that it should not be permitted.  If the marking were to be covered in some fashion, by rule it would be permitted.

From the NFHS:  SOFTBALL SHOE DEVICE:  An inner sole shaped device that is attached to the front sole of a softball shoe to extend the toe of the shoe does not comply with the NFHS Softball Rules.  The device alters the manufacture’s design of the shoe (1-8-5; 3-2-10), which is a required piece of equipment (3-2-11).  It is not a device that has been approved by the NFHS Softball Rules Committee (1-8-1).  If presented, this device should be ruled as illegal equipment and shall be removed before participation is allowed (3-6-1).

The use of such a device does not allow the pitcher to adequately meet the spirit of the pitching rule that governs the action of the pivot foot while pitching the ball (6-1-2c).  This device does not meet the spirit and intent of this rule.  Use the link below to see the non-compliant device.

NON-GLARE HELMETS:  Rules 1-6-1 and 1-7-1 contain language that addresses the issue of helmets with a glare or mirror-like finish.  This rule addresses the issue of batting helmets and catcher’s helmets with a finish that is chrome-like, reflective like a mirror and remind you of the silver and gold Christmas balls.  This rule is not intended to address the painted helmets with a glossy finish.  The glossy finish, on painted helmets in most cases, meets the intent of the NFHS softball rule.  There are very few of the batting helmets and catcher’s helmets, with mirror-like surfaces on the market, because most manufacturers agreed to stop making them.

Question 19:    I received a call regarding a bat that has been determined by some umpires as illegal. It has a handle that “swivels,” which some umpires have deemed to be an unfair advantage. They cited NFHS Rule 1-5-1c “Materials inside the bat or treatments/devices used to alter the bat specifications and/or enhance performance…are prohibited and render the bat illegal.” The model is Easton Mako Torque FP16MKT10. I do not see it on the non-approved list. Is this a legal bat?

Answer: This bat is legal - it bears the 2004 certification mark and is designed for the handle to turn. The section in the book the umpire is referencing is for a bat that is altered AFTER the bat was manufactured, not a bat that was manufactured with a feature in place. This bat was designed, manufactured and tested with the bottom part of the bat made to swivel. It passed all testing and received it’s certification mark and is legal in play per NFHS rules.

Question 20: Is it legal to have players wear their own batting helmet, regardless of color?

Answer: As long as the helmet meets all NFHS and WIAA requirements, this would be a local decision as whether you will allow a player to wear her own helmet. Per State Association Regulations, 29, g “All batting helmets are required to be school colors or neutral (white, black, grey) colors. Only school logos, reward or commemorative stickers are allowed beyond the NFHS requirement (Rule 1-6-1 and 1-7-1).”


RULE 2: Definitions

Question 1:  B3 bats and hits a double bringing B4 up to the plate with no outs.  In (a) the defensive coach requests that B4 be intentionally walked.  In (b) the pitcher requests that B4 be intentionally walked.

Answer:  In both (a) and (b), the proper mechanic for an umpire any time a defensive coach or player wishes to intentionally walk a player is once he/she ensures all playing action is completed, signal and call time.  Once the ball is dead, allow the coach or player to make the request to intentionally walk B4.  Note: It is good practice in (b) to delay slightly when a player requests an intentionally walk to ensure the defensive coach is in agreement prior to awarding the intentional walk.  Once an intentional walk is awarded by the umpire it is final and cannot be reversed.

Question 2:  B5 bats and advances to second base; however, she misses first base on her way to second.  B6 should be the next proper batter, but instead B7 comes to bat.  As she is walking to the plate the defensive coach requests time and informs the plate umpire that she wants to intentionally walk B7.  After B7 is awarded first base, but before a pitch is thrown to B8, the defensive coach again approaches the plate umpire and appeals that B7 has batted out of order.  Allowed?

Answer:  Yes, B6 who should have batted would be ruled out and B7 would be removed from first base and would be the next proper batter.  Once B7 was intentionally walked, there can be no appeal of an infraction that occurred prior to the intentional walk  The defense could no longer appeal B5 missing first base, but they can still appeal B7 batting out of order until a pitch (legal or illegal) or an intentional walk has been awarded to the next batter.  (NFHS 2-65-2).

Question 3:  B3 bats and advances to second base; however, she misses first base on her way to second.  B4 then comes to bat and as she is walking to the plate, the defensive coach requests time and informs that plate umpire that she wants to intentionally walk B4.  After B4 is awarded first base, but before a pitch is thrown to B5, the defensive coach again approaches the plate umpire and appeals that B3 missed first base.  Allowed?

Answer:  No, once B4 is intentionally walked, there can be no appeal of am infraction that occurred prior to the intentional walk being granted by the umpire.  In this case the intentional walk to B4 would remove the defenses' chance to appeal B3 missing first base. (NFHS 2-65-2)

Question 4:  B2 bats in place of B1 and obtains a double.  B3 then comes to bat and as she is walking to the plate, the defensive coach requests time and informs the plate umpire that she wants to intentionally walk B3.  After B3 is awarded first base, but before a pitch is thrown to B4, the defensive coach again approaches the plate umpire and appeals that B2 batted out of order.   Allowed?

Answer:  No, once B3 is intentionally walked, there can be no appeal of an infraction that occurred prior to the intentional walk being granted by the umpire.  In this case, the intentional walk to B3 would legalize B2's at bat and the next proper batter would be B4.  (NFHS 2-65-2)

Question 5:  With 2 outs, R2 on second and R3 on third, the coach of Team B informs the plate umpire that he/she wants B4, with a 2-0 count, walked intentionally.  Is this allowed?

Answer:  2-65-2 Legal.  Intentional walks are allowed at any time during the at-bat.

Question 6:  B1 is awarded an intentional base on balls.  Immediately after the batter-runner has started to first base, the pitcher walks toward the catcher for a conference.  B1 rounds first base and reaches second base.  Legal?

Answer:  2-65-2 The batter-runner must return to first base because the ball always becomes dead after an intentional base on balls is awarded.

Question 7:  With 2 outs, R2 on second and R3 on third, the coach of Team B informs the plate umpire that he/she wants B4, with a 2-0 count, walked intentionally.  Is this allowed?

Answer:  2-65-2 Legal.  Intentional walks are allowed at any time during the at-bat.

Question 8:  B1 is awarded an intentional base on balls.  Immediately after the batter-runner has started to first base, the pitcher walks toward the catcher for a conference.  B1 rounds first base and reaches second base.  Legal?

Answer:  2-65-2 The batter-runner must return to first base because the ball always becomes dead after an intentional base on balls is awarded.

Question 9:  First and third situation where we were on the bases stealing second got too far off third on cut off play by the shortstop...third base was pulled in by fake bunt and took the throw from short only she was about four feet down the line straddling the line. The third baseman was straddling the line with no ball in possession.  When I questioned the plate umpire about obstruction he stated she has the right to make a play on the ball.  I explained that she must be in possession of the ball to be in the baseline and he told me again she has the right to make a play.  We have been encountering a great deal of the obstruction no calls where the defender is up the line without the ball.

Answer:  Rule 2-36.  This would be a judgment call by the umpire although; it appears that most likely obstruction would be the call.  I always tell coaches that I will not comment on judgment calls unless I was actually there.  Whether or not fielder is "on the line" is not a determining factor in obstruction.  It is when "an act of the defensive team member that hinders or impedes a batter’s attempt to make contact with a pitched ball or that impedes the progress of a runner or batter-runner who is legally running bases, unless the fielder is in possession of the ball or is making the initial play on a batted ball.”

Question 10:  Does contact have to take place for there to be interference on a runner?  Ball is hit to the shortstop who goes to make a routine play up the middle.  Runner takes off from second base running hard right to the SS.  This movement clearly is the cause for the shortstop's flinching causing the ball to be bobbled or goes through her legs allowing the batter to be safe at first.  Runner from second takes third base.  In all instances I have observed the umpire says there "MUST BE CONTACT" in order for interference to take place.  Therefore both the batter and runner are safe at first and third.  Is this indeed the case?

Answer:  Physical contact is not required per NFHS Rule 2-32. From John Peterson; the three words I rely on are, "impedes, hinders or confuses."  Judgment needed to determine that one of the three above occurred on the play, not just poor fielding by defensive player.  In this play the author says runner's action "clearly is the cause" for defensive player's flinch.  Thus, I assume, were he the umpire he would have called interference. It is possible umpires use "must be contact" to help them avoid the difficult decision on this play, namely, did the runner's action impede, hinder or confuse the fielder.  If called, the defensive coach will want to know what the runner did wrong.  He/she will insist runner has the right to run the base line as fast ("hard") as they want and assert fielder muffed it and no words or actions by runner caused that.   And so the response would be, "Coach in my judgment the runner's actions impeded, hindered and confused the fielder."

Question 11:  Ground ball to SS, ball is fielded and thrown to first. 1B takes the ball off the end of glove and into the chest where she traps the ball with the glove. Ball is not in the glove but trapped against the chest with closed glove. Is this a legal catch?

Answer:  Please refer to the Case Book, 2.9.6; “it is not a catch until the ball is securely in a hand or glove.”  Batter is safe.

Question 12:  Could you please clarify an infield fly ruling?   Runners are on first and second with one out.  A fly ball of moderate height is hit to the second base side of the second baseman and deep enough that the second baseman turns her back to home plate, turns toward the outfield and runs to catch the ball.  She does not get to it, does not get a glove on it, but it lands on the dirt.  Is this situation considered infield fly?  I was under the impression that it had to be a playable ball that the fielders could not make a decision to not catch a ball in an effort to attempt a double play.  This was quite clearly not the case as all runners advanced without a play on them.  Any information and clarification would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:  As is the case with many softball situations, it’s difficult to give an exact answer.  The situation you describe requires an interpretation or judgment of the umpires that were officiating the game.  Since I was not present it would be unprofessional of me to state whether the correct call was made or not.  Rule 2-30 states; "Infield fly rule is, when declared by the umpire, a fair fly that can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort..."  This gives the umpires the ability to determine whether, in their opinion, the fly ball should be called an infield fly or not. 

Question 13:  In a recent game, two runs scored but as our team was celebrating the umpire took the ball from the catcher and ruled our first runner out for failing to touch home plate.  That was the third out and ended the game.  I thought the defensive team had to appeal a missed base?

Answer:  The umpire does not have the authority to rule on missed bases without an appeal from the defensive team.  Please refer to Rule 2-1-2; "Types of Appeals:  a) Missing a base, either advancing or returning."  Also, 2-1-9; "Plate and Missed Tag.  If a runner misses home plate and the catcher misses the tag, the umpire should hesitate slightly.  If no tag is made, the umpire should declare the runner safe.  If an appeal play is then made by tagging either the runner or home plate, the umpire should then make a decision on this appeal play." There are also references to this situation in the Umpires Manual.

Question 14:  Two runners round third, one immediately behind the other.  The first runner slides at home and is tagged out.  The second runner, in an effort to avoid the first runner who is still lying on the base line, slides towards the inside and swipes the plate with her hand.  Would the second runner be out for going out of the baseline?

Answer:  Please refer to Rule 2-3-2.  “A base runner who attempts to avoid a tag by running more than three feet to either side of a fielder with the ball in her possession shall be declared out.”

Question 15:  We may have an allegedly (with no proof), fan/parent calling plays and possibly pitches from the bleachers- is this a rule violation? Could we confront him about this? Or is this an 'in-house' issue and no different than fans yelling anything "throw home!" etc..

Answer:  This can be quite a complex issue.  First, you need to be certain the individual is "coaching" (calling pitches and/or plays).  If they are indeed doing this, and the players are following their directions, the individual then could be considered a coach.  If none of the players are paying any attention to them then I wouldn't worry about it.  As you stated, they are similar to fans who yell all kinds of directions in the heat of the moment.  Rule 2-59 now defines "Team Personnel" who must be "...located in the dugout...".  Having someone actually involved in coaching and not in the dugout raises the question of whether or not this individual has had contact with the athlete(s) out of season during the school year, which is not allowed.  I would advise working with your administration to determine a course of action.

Question 16:  Runners on 1st and 2nd base, no outs.  Batter hits a foul tip that the catcher catches cleanly.  Runners were stealing on the play. R2 reaches 3rd base, safely.  R1 who had reached 2nd base, panics and begins running back to 1st base.  Catcher throws ball to the 1st baseman who steps on the bag, but does not tag R1 on her way back to 1st base. Home plate umpire calls the runner at 1st base "out," but does not require R2 to return to 2nd base.  Correct procedure?

Answer:  Not correct.  NFHS Rule 2-25-2. Once it has been determined that this indeed was a foul tip, defined as "a batted ball that goes sharply and directly from the bat into the catcher's mitt or hand and is legally caught by the catcher," this is a live ball and  a steal is legal. R1 attempting to return to 1st base, must be tagged to be called out.  R2 at 3rd base is safe.

Question 17:  A batter attempts a bunt on a low pitch, just above her ankles, and pops it up about to the height of her waist – if, the catcher catches it, is she out?  If fair, it would be a fair ball.  If foul, is it just a foul ball, whether caught or not?  The only thing I can find is in the definition of a fly ball which says it “must be an appreciable height above the ground.”

Answer:  A foul tip is defined under 2-25-2 and is a batted ball that goes sharply and directly from bat to glove.  So, any arc to the ball makes it a “fly ball” under 2-2-6 and, if caught is an out, whether fair or foul.   Fair or foul is tough to judge when you are behind the catcher.  Unless catcher’s glove is above the plate (fair ball), I generally give benefit of doubt to foul ball.

Question 18:  I would like a clarification around unreported/illegal substitution that occurred last Wednesday in my WIAA regional game.  Here is the situation.  Top of 5, first batter #33 gets on first.  Coach reports #7 pinch running for #33.  This was a legal substitution.  Team bats around and with 2 outs in the inning #33 bats in place of #7 who pinch ran for her.  Coach does not report #33 as a reentry.  Bases are loaded and #33 gets a hit that scores 2 runs and #33 is at second base.  On this play, the opposing pitcher gets injured.  While checking on pitcher, hitting team coach wants to substitute #9 for #33 who did not report back into the game.  I called #33 out and because it was the third out of the inning I took the 2 runs that scored on #33’s at bat off the board. What should the ruling have been? 

Answer:  Ruling should have been “team warning to the coach of the team involved and the next offender (and head coach) on that team shall be restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game.”  Rule 3-6-7 Penalty.  If this was first violation, no other action is taken.  Runs count.  If second violation, Head Coach and #33 are both restricted to bench for remainder of game.  Runs count.  If this had involved an “Illegal Substitute," Rule 2-57, “An Illegal substitute is a player who enters or re-enters the game without eligibility to do so (illegal re-entry); a player who re-enters the game in the wrong position in the batting order; the FLEX who enters the game as a batter or runner in a different position in the batting order that the DP; or a player who violates the courtesy runner rule.”  Then, if on offense the player is restricted to bench and called out, play is nullified, but outs stand (3-4-2 PENALTY).  If defensive player, then coach has choices (3-4-3 PENALTY).


RULE 3: Players, Substitutes and Coaches

Question 1:  In the third inning S1, an eligible substitute, enters the game for F9 but is not reported to the plate umpire.  B1 hits a fly ball that S1 catches in the air for an out.  The defensive coach requests that the out be nullified since S1 is not legally in the game.

Answer:  The out stands, S1 is legally in the game and the defensive team receives a warning for the unreported substitute.  The next violation for an unreported substitute will result in the player and the head coach being restricted to the dugout/bench area for the remainder of the game.

Question 2:  Is it legal for a player to wear her wristband/playcard attached to the belt loop of her softball pants?

Answer:  No, the wristband/playcard is to be worn on the wrist (non-pitching arm) as the manufacturer intended.  1-8-5 and 3-2-7c

Question 3:  I want to use the DP/Flex.  This would give me the flexibility to play 10 different kids in the 9 different defensive positions.  However, I want to start the game from the first pitch with the DP in the defensive position that I am listing the FLEX player in.  Can I submit a line-up card at the beginning of the game listing 10 players with a DP/FLEX, but have the DP in the FLEX's defensive position on the first pitch of the game?

Answer (from John Peterson):  Yes you can.  The procedure would be to fill out your line-up card as you wish it to be.  At the pre-game meeting, inform the umpire that you wish the DP to assume the FLEX's defensive position.  That will reduce you to 9 players and the FLEX Has left the game, but you may re-enter her once.

Question 4:  Team A is wearing black undergarments but the pitcher is wearing a solid red wristband on her non-pitching arm with a playbook/play card attached to it.  Is this allowed?  What if the wristband is optic yellow?

Answer:  3-2-7c Legal.  Wristbands with a playbook/play card are considered equipment, not garments, so they do not have to be the same color as the upper body undergarments.  An optic yellow wristband with a playbook/play card would NOT be allowed.  Rule 3-2-7 Exception.

Question 5:  Team B's coach has used her three charged conferences.  In the 7th inning, the coach (a) stops play to confer with her infielders about a bunt situation, or (b) checks with F1, who has just been hit by a batted ball. 

Answer:  3-7-1 In (a), the pitcher must be removed as the pitcher for the remainder of the game.  in (b), this is not a charged conference.  The umpire should accompany the coach to check on the injured player and make sure that coaching does not take place.  If F1 is replaced due to injury, the umpire may allow the substitute pitcher more than 5 warm-up pitches.

Question 6:  Can the flex run for the DP when the DP reaches base?   Is it a charged substitution?

Answer:  Please refer to the NFHS Case Book, 3.3.6, sit. E. “Team A is using 10 players in its lineup, with the DP-L. Jones batting third.  FLEX-B. Smith is playing right field and is a very fast runner.  In the first, third, and sixth innings, DP-L. Jones gets on base and, in each case, the FLEX-B. Smith is put in to run.  Is this legal?"  RULING:  "It is legal for the defensive position player (FLEX) to do this since she never left the game.  However, it would be illegal for the starting DP-L. Jones to return to bat in the sixth inning since she was used earlier in the third inning.  This is a violation of the re-entry rule.”

Question 7:  Just to confirm, metal spikes are allowed in softball, correct? 

Answer:  Yes, Rule 3-2-11.

Question 8:  During the course of the game one of my players illegally batted (she was the flex).  She recorded the first out of the inning, the next batter reached base.  When the third batter of the inning stepped into the batter’s box the opposing coach questioned the flex batting.   The umpire then called the batter now on first out as a penalty.  This doesn’t seem to be the correct ruling.

Answer:  From John Peterson:  Please refer to Rule 3-3-6g.  "placing the FLEX into one of the first nine positions for someone other than the DP's position is considered an illegal substitution (emphasis added).  The illegal substitute shall be removed from the game and restricted to the dugout/bench.  See Rule 2-57-3 and 3-4 for additional penalties."2-57-3, is definition and includes FLEX who enters the game in the wrong position in the batting order. 3-4, covers this situation with penalty.  "Illegal offensive players may be discovered: a. When in the batter's box, the ball is live and/or before the batter-runner reaches first base, or is put out and before a pitch is delivered to the next batter of either team (emphasis added)." Since the illegal batter was not discovered before a pitch to the next batter, there is no penalty. Had the defensive team coach appealed the illegal batter before the next pitch, then the penalty would have been: 1.  Illegal player (FLEX) is out and restricted to the dugout/bench. 2.  The lead-off batter, who should have batted has lost her turn at bat and Batter #2 in the order would bat with one out. Case book has several plays: Situation F.  Discovered at bat - penalty imposed. Situation G.  Flex bats for player other than DP, Ruling states Illegal batter.  The Flex can only bat in the DP batting position.  The FLEX-B. Smith is called out IF at bat or on base, disqualified and replaced with a legal substitute.  (3-4-1a;m 3-3-6g) Situation H.  Flex enters game as a runner.  Same wording as above, The FLEX-B. Smith is called out IF at bat or on base, disqualified and replaced with a legal substitute.  (3-4-1a;m 3-3-6g) It is interesting to note that illegal players can be discovered after a pitch has been thrown causing them to be restricted to dugout/bench, but not in this situation because the FLEX, although illegal, wasn't in the batter's box or on base.

Question 9:  I recently worked a junior varsity game where the coaches told me during the pre-game meeting that they were going to use “free substitutions” or maybe bat 12 girls in an inning.   I did not allow this.  Was I correct?

Answer:  There is nothing in the NFHS rules or WIAA adaptations which would allow free substitutions or batting 12 players in an inning.  Doing so would mean this is not an actual game and that it has become a scrimmage.

Question 10:  I was umpiring a game last night in XYZ and the pitcher came out to pitch the second game wearing an orange hooded sweatshirt, which had a legal size number on the back.  The rest of the team was wearing regular legal black jerseys.  In this case would rule 3-2 art. 1 apply, "Uniforms of team members shall be of the same color and style"?  XYZ’s team colors are orange and black.  Legal or illegal?

Answer:  Please refer to the Case Book, 3.2.1; “In (a), a player asks to wear a jacket over her uniform while running the bases.  RULING:  Legal in (a).  The same interpretation would be applied to a school color sweatshirt.  Rule 3-2-1 "uniforms of all team members....state associations may, on an individual basis, permit a player to participate while wearing a different style uniform for religious reasons, inclement weather, etc." Updated 3-20-17

Question 11:  Last night we had a player who received a cut on her finger while running the bases.  When the 3rd out occurred she was still on 3rd base and needed a little more time to make sure the injury was not serious and to stop the bleeding before entering the game.  We replaced her with a legal substitute.  I thought that if a player is injured, specifically to stop bleeding it did not count against her toward her second re-entry. She was able to finish the game but we were told if she left the game again she could not re-enter.  Is blood time, (wrestling term) not in consideration for a substitution or does it count as a regular substitution?

Answer:  Rule 3-3 (substitution) does not include any special consideration for injuries.  The umpire was correct in his ruling regarding the second re-entry.

Question 12:  I have a runner on 1B and pinch hit for my pitcher.  On 2-1 pitch, the runner attempts to steal 2nd base and is thrown out for the 3rd out.  My question is since the batter would start the next inning with a fresh 0-0 count, did her at bat count as an entry the previous inning or could I have my pitcher back up to bat without having considered her even being out of the game and we would still have the ability to sub for her and reenter her in the game or would the above situation count as a substitution and reentry.

Answer:  Rule 3-3-3.  A substitute is in the game when the substitution is recorded by the plate umpire.  If not announced, a substitute has entered the game when the ball is live and a batter takes her place in the batter's box and the umpire declares the ball live.  Thus, in Situation 2, the substitute was in the game and if the pitcher is re-entered into the game the substitute has had one entry.  Since a substitute can reenter, this player could have been used to hit for the pitcher (same spot in the batting order) in a later inning.

Question 13:  Coach had listed an improper number on the line-up card.  What is the penalty?

Answer:  Violation of Rule 3-1-3.  It would result in team warning based on Penalty.

Question 14:  I (plate official) wrote down the wrong number for a legal substitute.  The number was reported correctly by the coach to me, and it was written down correctly on the other side of the lineup card.  Once the substitute had batted, the opposing coach appealed that she was illegal because "6" batted instead of "16."  After discussing it with the other umpire, we agreed to let the at bat stand because it was my error in writing the number down incorrectly.  Was this the proper way to handle the situation?

Answer:  Yes, neither team should be penalized for this umpire error.  Had coach reported it incorrectly, then the penalty of unreported sub would be applied - warning for 1st and restriction to bench for subsequent violations. It is recommended that the plate umpire check to see that the player who enters the game is the same number as coach reported and use preventative measures to avoid this situation.

Question 15:  In a game the other night the assistant coach had her iPad on the field while coaching first base.  In our umpire association meetings they emphasized that electronics could not be on the field or in the dugout so I asked that she keep it off the field.  After the game I did some further investigation and in the softball case book it says that if used strictly for keeping statistics they can be used but if used for coaching or recording they cannot be used.  As an umpire how are we to know when an iPad is being used to keep statistics and when it is used for coaching and it would be easy to be keeping statistics and then record a player pitching or batting.  There is also a gray area to say you are using it for statistics such as keeping hitting charts on the opposing team and then using those statistics for coaching purposes. So when is an iPad allowed and when is it not allowed?

Answer:  Case Book, 3.6.10, sit. B; “The umpire notices that the coach, while in the coach’s box is using a) a palm pilot for recording statistics.  RULING:  Legal in a).  Materials/devices used for scoring purposes are permissible.”   I would suspect that if a coach is using his/her iPad to film it would be apparent to most everyone there.   During the pre-game meeting remind coaches that if they are using some type of electronic device (iPad) while in the dugout or coaching box, it’s to be used to keep statistics only.  There is not an expectation that umpires need to constantly monitor coaches to keep them from using these devices to coach.

Question 16:  I’m a coach.  Am I allowed to use an app on my smart phone (RightViewPro) from the dugout?

Answer:  Rule 3-6-11; “Electronic devices may be used for coaching purposes during the course of the game.”

Question 17:  Is there a rule in SB for a batter throwing their bat after contact is made with the ball.  It is not done on purpose, but by accident. After the swing, contact, and before running the bat flies out of the batters hand.

Answer:  Rule 3-6-3; “A team member shall not carelessly throw a bat.”  PENALTY:  “The umpire shall issue a team warning to the coach of the team involved and the next offender on that team shall be restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game.” See also, Rule 3-6-16; “Team personnel shall not deliberately throw bats, helmets or any other piece of equipment.”  “PENALTY:  The umpire shall eject the offender from the game, unless the offense is judged to be of a minor nature.  If minor, the umpire may warn the offender and eject if the offense is repeated.”  Also, Case Book 3.6.16, sit. B; “RULING:  b) The umpire will warn the team for a carelessly thrown bat, and if the act is repeated, any subsequent offenders on that team will be restricted to the bench/dugout for the duration of the game.”

Question 18:  In a recent softball game a player was involved in a collision at first base.  The home team had a licensed athletic trainer on site and she evaluated the player for symptoms of a concussion.  The LAT declared her eligible to return to play.  Who exactly is allowed to clear players for return to play?

Answer:  Rule 3-3-9; “Any player who exhibits signs, symptoms, or behaviors consistent with a concussion…shall be immediately removed from the game and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.”

Question 19:  I have a player on my team who just got a sub-dermal implant.  Is this allowed?  What if she screws a stud onto the implant?
Answer:  The sub dermal implant is legal since it is contained beneath the skin with no exposed surfaces.  By adding a stud, it would be in violation of Rule 3-2-13.

Question 20:  We have an assistant coach whose responsibility is to work with pitchers and catchers as well as keep the book on game days.  In our game last evening, she has done as she always has...sit between our dugout and home plate, but outside the fence.  As well as keep the book from here, she also relays signals to our catcher (again not from immediately behind the plate, but down the line adjacent to our dugout).  In the 5th inning, the opposing coach drew this to the attention of the home plate official who then issued us a warning and said this was an illegal activity.  Is this true as we move forward in the season, especially since we will definitely see the same home plate official again?  Or are we allowed to have this staff member outside the fence giving signals to our catcher if she is not immediately behind the plate?

Answer:  The ruling is correct.  Please refer to Rule 3-6-6; "Only the batter, runner, on-deck batter, coaches in the coach's box, bat/ball shaggers or one of the nine players on defense are permitted to be outside the designated dugout/bench or designated warm-up areas.  Also, in the Case Book; 3.6.6, sit. A, B, and D all have similar situations.  In this situation, the umpire should have asked the head coach if the scorekeeper was also coaching (in this case sending the signals in).  If so, the scorekeeper/coach would need to move to the dugout.  No warning would be issued unless the scorekeeper/coach or other dugout personnel were out of the dugout.  If the scorekeeper were simply keeping score, they would not be required to adhere to Rule 3-6-6.  This is important to note, as occasionally parents, non-school pitching coaches, and others have been observed signaling or coaching from the stands, backstop area, and fences.  All coaches and all coaching must be from the dugout or the coach’s boxes when the team is on offense.

Question 21:  Our new jerseys have a manufacturer’s logo on the sleeve.  It’s the legal size.  At the bottom of the jersey on the tail there’s another logo, like a tag from the store that we bought the jerseys from.  Is it legal to have two logos?

Answer:  Not allowed.  Rule 3-2-3; “…may bear only a single manufacturer’s logo/trademark/reference that does not exceed 2 ¼ square inches…”  In this case, keep the jersey tail tucked in.

Question 22:  They had a sub up to bat that didn't report, we realized it and brought it to the attention of the plate umpire.  The girl had a 1 and 1 count on her.  The umpire said she wasn't out because she didn't become a runner yet and if we would've waited for her to get on base then she would've been called out.  They let the girl she was subbing for come back in and hit with her 1 and 1 count.  By my reading of the rules she should've been out as soon as she was in the batter’s box and the pitcher took her place on the rubber.  Please comment.

Answer:  Rule 3-6-7, Penalty:  "The umpire shall issue a team warning to the coach of the team involved and the next offender on that team shall be restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game.  The head coach is also restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game." Updated 3-20-17

Question 23:  I have a FLEX and a DP in my starting lineup with the DP batting in the 8th spot.  Later in the game can I enter my FLEX into the lineup and then have my DP play the field for the person that the FLEX now bats for in the lineup? So my FLEX now bats 7th in the lineup and my DP who still bats 8th now goes into play left field.  And my left fielder is out.

Answer:  Illegal.  Rule 3-3-6g; “Placing the FLEX into one of the first nine positions for someone other than the DP’s position is considered an illegal substitution.”

Question 24:  In the softball Case Book, Situation 3.3.1 says that a team warning to the head coach shall be made for any additional subs to be added to the sub list or for a player number change and the coach restricted to the dugout on the second addition/change.  Our question is what is the penalty if the head coach adds multiple subs and/or number changes? If for TWO additional name changes, is the head coach restricted to the dugout, and if for three additional changes, is he/she ejected?  Does the penalty pertain to the number of changes made per occurrence or to the number of occurrences made (ex: two changes in the 3rd inning for a warning and another change in the 5th inning for his/her restriction to the dugout)?

Answer:  Please refer to Case Book situation, 3.1.3, that covers this situation.  The rule was written to cover each occurrence rather than each violation.  Thus, coach could have several errors on lineup card with only one penalty at the time the errors are brought to the attention of the plate umpire.  If after the correction another violation is discovered later, then the coach's penalty is moved to the second step (Rule 3-1-3 penalty).  First step is warning, second is restricted to bench and third would be ejection (per Rule 3-6-20).

Question 25:  Our varsity will be making up a suspended game tomorrow from a month ago.  Since the original game, two players from JV have moved up to varsity, and were not on the original lineup card.  We just want to make sure that there won't be any penalty if they were to enter the game as a courtesy runner.  Can they play, and how should we notify the umpires and opposing team?

Answer:  Prior to the start of the suspended game, coach notifies the umpires that there will be 2 names added to the original roster.  Since these are late additions, they fall under the PENALTY for 3-1-3, "…team warning… further changes will result in the head coach being restricted to the dugout/bench area for the remainder of the game."

Question 26:  A Senior player on our Varsity Softball team broke her hand in a game early in the season.  She is still in a cast, but the doctor has cleared her for all running.  Coach wants to begin using her as a courtesy and/or pinch runner.  I assume the cast must be padded and/or a soft cast.  Do we need any type of doctor note or WIAA authorization to show umpires that the padding is legal?

Answer:  I would recommend that the coach have the doctor's clearance to show to the umpires at the pre-game meeting in the event he uses her as a runner.  Regarding the padding, if you follow the requirements for padding listed in 3-2-13 and it meets those standards, coach should simply tell the umpires that the padding is in compliance with 3-2-13.

Question 27:  During the game a coach has to remove a player due to concussion like symptoms.  The injured player is replaced with a legal substitute.  The coach informs the umpire that the newly entered substitute would bat for the injured player but that the DP would play defense for her.

Answer:  Legal.  The DP can play defense for any player.  If that player is not the Flex, that player will continue to bat but not play defense (Rule 3-3-6e).  The team continues to play with ten (10) players.  NOTE.  Should the DP play defense for the Flex, the Flex has left the game and the number of players is reduced from ten (10) to nine (9).

Question 28:  Substitute Green bats for Smith.  Green hits a single.  Before the next pitch the opposing coach brings to the umpire’s attention that Green failed to report.

Answer:  The umpire would confirm that the substitute failed to report and issue a team warning to the offending team and enter Green into the game.  If that team had already received a warning for unreported substitute, that substitute and the head coach would be restricted to the dugout for the remainder of the game.  The original player (Smith) or a legal substitute would replace Green at first base (Rule 3-6-7 and Case Book 3-6-7 Situations A & B).

Question 29:  Runner on second base (1 out).   Batter hits a homerun over the fence.  Runner from 2nd base scores.  Batter approaches the plate and 2 teammates slap her hand before she touches home plate.  RULING for batter?  RULING for runner who was on 2nd base?

Answer:  In Case Book play 3.6.6 g

B1 hits an out-of-the-park home run.  As she touches third base, her team comes out of the dugout to congratulate her. Legal, but bench personnel cannot obstruct the umpire’s view of B1 touching home plate.  All bench personnel should remain behind the umpire and the batter’s boxes to ensure an unobstructed view of players touching the plate.  No mention of hand slaps. PENALTY: (Arts. 2 through 10) The umpire shall issue a team warning to the coach of the team involved and the next offender on that team shall be restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game. (Art. 2)  A fake tag without the ball is obstruction (8-4-3b). (Art. 7) The head coach is also restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game. (Arts. 8, 9, 10)  For coaches who violate, depending on the severity of the act, the umpire may issue a warning, restrict the offender to bench/dugout for the remainder of the game or eject the offender. If in the hand slapping the players block the umpires view of runner touching home plate, the umpire should issue a warning.  Repeat is restriction to bench.

Question 30:  Hitting team is up with 1 out and girls on 1st and 3rd.  Batter enters the batters box and takes a pitch, which was a ball.  Defensive coach comes out of the dugout after the thrown pitch and says that the batter is out because she didn't report.  Umpires called the batter out.  Correct procedure?

Answer:  Rule 3-3-4:  A substitute or courtesy runner shall not enter the contest unreported, (3-6-7 Penalty, 8-9-7).

3-6-7 Penalty:  The umpire shall issue a team warning to the coach of the team involved and the next offender (player) shall be restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game.  Art. 7:  The head coach is also restricted to the dugout/bench for the remainder of the game. Updated 3-20-17

Rule 2, ART. 2 . . . Unreported Substitute.  An unreported substitute is a substitute who has a legal right to participate in the game but has not reported to the umpire prior to her participation (3-6-7). All substitutions must be reported to the umpire.

A team warning should have been issued and the batter allowed to complete her turn at bat.  Had this been the second unreported substitution, the unreported substitute and coach would be restricted to the bench and another legal substitute or the player whom the unreported substitute replaced would bat with a 1 ball 0 strike count.

Question 31:  In a softball game last week,  I was using the DP/Flex option.  My flex was my pitcher.  In the 4th inning I pulled my pitcher (flex) and replaced her with a player from the bench, a legal substitute.  I then moved my right fielder to 3rd base and my 3rd base player to shortstop.  The DP then played right field and the original shortstop then came out on defense BUT retained her batting privileges.  The batting order DID NOT change, just the flex player on defense and players moved fielding positions.

1.    Abbot Shortstop  (6)      Leaves game defensively.  Continues to bat.

       Now: hitter-only.  Abbot has not left the game.

2.  Peterson    DP  (9) Enters game defensively in Right Field.

     Continues to bat.

3.     Thurwachter  Left Field  (7)         (7)  No change

4.     Otterson          Center Field (8)      (8)   No change

5.     Thompson       Third Base  (5)       (6)   Moved defensively to Shortstop             

6.     Smith               First Base (3)          (3)  No change

7.     Jones              Catcher (2)               (2)  No change

8.     Nelson            Right Fielder (9)      (5)  Moved defensively to Third Base

9.     Tao                 Second Base (4)       (4)  No change

10.   Mayer:            Flex-Pitcher (1)       (1)  Mayer replaced by Murphy.  Mayer has left the game.

Substitute:  Murphy

Answer:  (from John Peterson)   As diagramed above,  

1.     There are still 9 defensive players.

2.     The batting order has not changed.

3.     The Flex position in the order is occupied by the pitcher (1).  The starting pitcher was Mayer and she was replaced by Murphy.  Straight substitution as permitted in Rule 3-3-5f.  Mayer has left the game.

4.     The DP enters the game defensively and plays right field (9) as permitted in Rule 3-3-5e.

5.     Former right fielder (9) moved to third base as covered in Rule 3-1-6.  Defensive changes can be made at any time (subject to restriction of pitcher under 3-3-2 Note).   This is not a substitution.

6.     Former third base player (5) moved to shortstop base as covered in Rule 3-1-6.  Defensive changes can be made at any time (subject to restriction of pitcher under 3-3-2 Note).   This is not a substitution.

7.     Former shortstop is no longer playing defense but hitting only as permitted in Rule 3-3-5e.

        All changes are legal.  No violations.

Question 32:  I have 2 pitchers. P1 is a weak hitter, but P2 hits very well.  In the line-up, I list P1 as the Flex and P2 as the DP.  Immediately after turning my line-up in, I inform the umpire that I am replacing my Flex with my DP.  This allows me to keep my P2 in the batting order later when I bring back P1 as the Flex.

I have two questions:

Question 32a:  Does P1 have to throw a pitch in the 1st inning before I can make the switch? 

Answer:  No, P1 does not need to throw a pitch before replacement. Umpires should ask at the meeting if either coach wants to make any changes. Once reported at the pre-game meeting, it is a substitution and P1 has left the game, since she has been replaced defensively by P2. Rule 3-3-6, Points of Emphasis.  Case Book 3.3.6 Situations A-J.

Question 32b:  If we are the Home team, do I have to wait until the umpire declares "play ball" and then take a Time Out to make the change?

Answer:  No, DP/Flex has to be on the line-up card at the pre-game meeting.  Pitching changes can be made then or any time after that.

Question 33:  Is a coach allowed to be outside of the dugout while his/her team is on defense?

Answer:  No, NFHS Rule 3-6-6, Bench and Field Conduct.  "Only the batter, runner(s), on-deck batter, coaches in the coach's box, bat/ball shaggers or one of the nine players on defense are permitted to be outside of the dugout/bench or designated warm-up areas.

Situation 3.6.6 E: "The home coach while his/her team is on defense turns a bucket upside down and sits just outside the dugout to get a better view of playing action.  RULING: Illegal. Coaches must remain inside the designated dugout area.  The coach shall receive a team warning.  Any subsequent offender shall be restricted to the bench/dugout for the remainder of the game."

Question 34:

Situation 1 - Both teams were wearing eye black streaked down their cheeks.  They even had it smeared into "stripes."  is this allowed?

Situation 2 - One of the teams was wearing eye black with glitter in it.  Is this allowed?

Answer:  At this time, there is no restriction by the NFHS regarding the use of eye black.  In both situations, eye black is not being worn as the manufacturer intended, and coaches should monitor the use of eye black by their players.


RULE 4: Starting and Ending Game

Question 1:  Last night at our JV game, we had a ball hit down the third base line that rolled into foul territory and well past the level of the temporary fence (the fence ended at the foul line) but stayed in the field of play. After the ball had rolled past the level of the fence, my LF threw her hands up (the ball continued to roll 25-30 further). The plate umpire did not rule a ground rule double, but allowed the runner to score. When I came out to ask, the base umpire believed it should be a ground rule double, stating that the temporary outfield fence line is extended. The plate umpire said it was a live ball and the HR stood. Should there be an extension of the temporary fence if it ends at the foul line? To me, it doesn't seem right that a ball hit fair to CF can be stopped by a fence, but a fair ball down a baseline could roll forever.

Answer:  Please refer to Rule 4-1-3. This should have been discussed as a “ground rule” during the pre-game conference.  I believe the correct call would have been a ground rule double.

Question 2:  Our recent softball game was stopped because the game, after completion of the third inning, had reached a 15 run difference.  I tried to relay that this must either be a conference ruling or mutually agreed upon by the coaches prior to the start of the game but the umpire stated it was a rule.

Answer:  You are correct.  Please refer to the Wisconsin Adaptations for softball which can be found on the Official's, School Center and in the Season Regulations; "By conference agreement or mutual agreement by both head coaches prior to the start of the game, a game may end after three innings if a team is 15 or more runs behind and has completed it turn at bat (Rule 4-2-3)."

Question 3:  The coach of the visiting team said his athletic director told him it would be a 5-inning game (apparently via an agreement with the host AD).  Not so, the home team coach declared.  She said it should be a full length game (it turned out to be a 10-run rule game in 5).  Who has the authority to make this decision, the coach or the athletic director?

Answer:  There is no such thing as a 5 inning game (per NFHS and WIAA rules) unless the game is scheduled as part of a double header.  In the example you have given, neither the coaches nor the athletic directors have the authority to pre-determine this game will be 5 innings.  The only other option is the possibility of using a time limit as per the WIAA Softball Season Regulations. If this is a non-conference game, the athletic director of the host school who should have issued the contract would have the authority to determine a time limit game which would be indicated in the contract signed by the visiting school athletic director.  If it is a conference game there should be a standard contract that all schools in the conference use or set standards for play that all schools in the conference adhere to.  Umpires should be informed when they sign their contracts as well.

Question 4:  Bottom of 6th inning, two outs, runner on 3rd, score Iola 3, Bonduel 2.  Lightning is spotted, teams are asked to go off field, time 5:45 pm, while waiting, more lightning, rain starts falling lightly, still waiting, heavier rain comes down, field is considered unplayable.  Question: Is game suspended at point of interruption?  Or is game done?  Score of game before 6th inning was XYZ 2, ABC 1.  XYZ did score in top of 6th making it 3 -1, of course ABC scores 1 run in bottom of 6th before the weather changes things.   Rule books were opened and after checking with Wisconsin adaptations.  No one was sure what the ruling should be, coaches agreed to wait and see what officially has to be done.  Just want to make sure.

Answer:  Please refer to Rule 4-2-2; “If a game ends because of weather conditions, or darkness interferes with play so that the game is called (ended) by the umpire it is a regulation game provided:  a) five full innings have been played; or if the home team has scored an equal or greater number of runs in four or four and a fraction turns at bat than the visiting team has scored in five turns.  b) play has gone beyond five full innings and is called when the teams have not had an equal number of completed turns at bat.  The score shall be the same as it was at the end of the last completed inning; unless the home team, in its half of the incomplete inning, scores a run (or runs) which equals or exceeds the opponent’s score, in which case, the final score shall be as recorded when the game is called.”  In your game, the score would be recorded from the end of the 5th inning and be considered a complete game. XYZ 2, ABC 1.

Question 5:  When is a game forfeited for a team being late? Is there a difference between a team just not arriving at the game site with no advanced information that they may be running late or a situation where the team bus has a mechanical problem that will result in the team being 30-45 minutes late?

Answer:  Rule 4-3-1 gives authority to the umpire to forfeit a game if a team is “late in appearing or in beginning play after the umpire calls “Play Ball”.  I would advise that if a team has made contact that they have been delayed, no forfeit should be awarded.  If no prior contact has been made every effort still should be made to accommodate the late team since the goal is to play the game.

Question 6:  When a team is on the field for pre-game warm-up, is it permissible for the pitcher to stand on the pitcher's plate and pitch balls to the catcher who then practices throwing out base runners?

Answer:  During warm-up, pitchers do not have any prohibition regarding pitching.   The situation you have described is legal.

Question 7:  When one team is on the field for pre-game warm-up, it is permissible for the other team to have players standing parallel to the third base line or first base line (about 3 feet from the line) watching their opponent warm-up?

Answer:  The following language is from the Softball Season Regulations.  When one team is taking the field for warm-ups, the other team should not be on the field. Pre-game warm-up schedule is being recommended for regular season games and is required for the WIAA Tournament Series, with the exception of the actual State Championship games. 35 minutes prior to the start of the game, the home team takes the field.  20 minutes prior to the start of the game the visiting team takes the field.  5 minutes prior, the pregame meeting is held and the field is prepped for play.  The field is defined as the entire enclosed field (live ball area).

The language above would prohibit the situation you have described.

Question 8:  Our game was suspended due to rain in the third inning.  We will be making up this game.  Do we need to start over?

Answer:  Please refer to the Softball Season Regulations; “If the game is to be completed, it will be continued from the point of suspension...”

Question 9:  What about the 15 run mercy rule after 3 complete innings, is that allowed?

Answer:  Please refer to the Softball Season Regulations, page 29; "By conference agreement or mutual agreement by both head coaches prior to the start of the game, a game may end after three innings if a team is 15 or more runs behind and has completed its turn at bat (Rule 4-2-3). The NOTE is new and refers ONLY to the WIAA Tournament Series:  "NOTE:  The 15 run rule must be used in all WIAA tournament games except the State Tournament games (quarterfinal, semifinal, and championship)."


RULE 6: Pitching

Question 1:  The Pitcher from Team A steps on the pitcher's plate with the heel of her pivot foot against the front edge of the plate.  The umpire rules this illegal stating that part of the foot must be on top of the pitcher's plate.  Correct?

Answer:  This is an incorrect ruling.  The pivot foot is only required to be in contact with the pitcher's plate.  (Rule 6-1-1).

Question 2:  With no outs, a 1 ball 1 strike count and R1 on first base, the pitcher is called for an illegal pitch.  B2 swings and misses the ball.  R1 who was stealing on the pitch is thrown out at second base.  The umpire rules that since R1 was stealing on the pitch she would remain out but awards the batter a ball for the illegal pitch.

Answer:  This is an incorrect ruling.  Since the batter was not safe at first base and all runners did not advance at least one base on an illegal pitch, the offensive coach should receive his/her choice of the play or the penalty (6-1-1 PENALTY EXCEPTION 2).  In this case the result of the play would be B2 at bat with a 1 ball 2 strike count and R1 remaining out.  If the coach would like to take the penalty, a ball is awarded to B2 (2 ball 1 strike count) and R1 would be returned to first base.

Question 3:   I did a varsity softball game and the home school coach gave me three new balls for the game. In the top of the first inning the first ball and a second had been put in play, but not the third. Between the top and bottom of the inning I asked my partner if I had to require the pitcher of the visiting team to throw the unused ball. He didn't know so I gave the pitcher the choice of which ball to use from the two that had been put in play. Should I have taken the third ball from the coach and did I handle the balls correctly with the pitcher?

Answer:  Please refer to Rule 6-5-1; "The pitcher has a choice of balls at the start of each half inning unless both balls do not get put into play.  In that case, the pitcher in the bottom of the first inning must throw the unused ball.  Thereafter, the ball in play should be returned to the 16 foot circle after every half inning."  You might also refer to the Case Book, 6.5.1.

Question 4:  Is Gorilla Gold Grip allowed?

Answer:  From the NFHS staff: “Yes, Gorilla Grip is legal and should remain in the back pocket or on the pitcher's person.  It also comes in the form of a wristband the players can wear.  (6-2-2)”

Question 5:  The opposing pitcher at our game last night on every pitch would step on the rubber with both hands on the ball, take her sign and then pitch.  I waited to after the 1/2 inning and addressed the issue with the home plate umpire who then wanted me to share my concern with the base umpire, which I did.  The next inning the pitcher continued as before.  I asked the base umpire about it and he said he couldn't see it and referred me to the home umpire.  Between innings I asked the plate umpire about the pitch and he said he would address the issue with the opposing coach, which he did.  It was his opinion that the pitcher's procedure did not give her an advantage and he wouldn't call an illegal pitch.  Subsequently, the pitcher did correct her pitch most of the time.  Occasionally, she would fall back into her incorrect habit and nothing was called.  At no time did the umpire tell me that her procedure was not illegal, just that it didn't give her an advantage.  Knowing that there were a lot of other more pressing issues in the game, I didn't make an enormous issue of the pitcher's procedure; I only mentioned it when walking off the field between innings and dropped the subject when it was apparent that the illegal pitch would not be called.

Answer:  Rule 6-1-1a; “Prior to pitching, the pitcher must take a position...and with the hands separated.”  You have correctly identified the issue.  Nowhere in the NFHS or WIAA rules does it state that illegal pitching should be ignored if, in the umpire’s opinion, “no advantage is gained”.

Question 6:  If a pitcher is wearing a mouth guard, when she removes it would she be required to wipe her fingers prior to touching the ball, the same as licking her fingers?

Answer:  Correct call.  Rule 6-2-2.

Question 7:  I have encouraged our pitchers to use both the "windmill" and "slingshot" deliveries against a hitter, with the intention of disrupting the hitter's timing.   I would give the umpires a "heads up" about that prior to the game, so that they wouldn't be caught off-guard and also to avoid any potential controversy during the game.  A few umpires have told me that would be an "illegal pitch", since the pitcher must use the same delivery to the hitter during an at-bat.

Answer:  Rule 6-1-2 does not list this as an illegal pitch.

Question 8:  In our game on Saturday, the other team's pitcher was charged with an illegal pitch. We had a runner on first base. The umpires said that the runner did not get second base on the illegal pitch, although they did call a ball on the batter.  I don't think that is correct unless I missed a rule change. Please let me know if I'm mistaken.

Answer:  Correct call.  Rule 6-1-1 PENALTY:  "In the case of an illegal pitch, the batter is awarded a ball."  The penalty that permitted base runners to be awarded one base without liability to be put out has been removed.

Question 9:  When the pitcher touches their mouth then the ball, the rule book says the call an "immediate illegal pitch".   What is the signal? How is this rule applied?  How is call different if she has not yet stepped on the pitching plate?  If time is out?

Answer:  The signal for an illegal pitch is a "Delayed dead ball".  When a delayed dead ball is called the batter is awarded a ball and base runners are awarded one base without liability to be put out.  (PENALTY).  Please reference the NFHS Case Book, 6.2.2, sit. B, RULING:  "Any time F1 licks the fingers on her pitching hand, she shall wipe them before touching the ball, otherwise an illegal pitch shall be called.  The umpire shall declare the ball dead immediately."   In that Case Book play the pitcher is not ready to pitch and the ruling is to call ball dead immediately and enforce illegal pitch penalty.

Question 10:  A pitcher is standing behind the pitching plate with the ball in her glove, looking into her team’s dugout receiving the signal from her coach. Following this, she steps onto the pitching plate and looks at the catcher, then brings her hands together in front of her body. The umpire rules illegal pitch since the signal has to be taken while in the pitching position.

Answer:  Incorrect ruling. As long as the pitcher pauses long enough when looking at the catcher to simulate taking the signal, there has been no violation of the pitching rule. (6-1-1b)


RULE 7: Batting

Question 1:  When hitting, once established in the batter's box, may a batter switch to the opposite box once per at bat, provided she calls time, makes the switch quickly and is not disrupting the game?

Answer:  Legal.  Please refer to Rule 7-3-1 for restrictions including the Penalty and Effects.

Question 2:  A batter laid down a bunt in fair territory.  She dropped the bat and went to first.  The bat was lying in fair ground, and the bunted ball ended up rolling into the bat.  The umpires said that because the bat was lying still, and the ball moved into the bat, it was still a live ball, and no out was recorded.  When I looked at Rule 7-4-13, I got the impression that anytime the ball hits the bat a second time, whether intentional or not, in fair territory, the runner should have been called out.

Answer:  In NFHS rules, 7-4-13, only the bat moving into the ball is covered.  So the ruling by the umpires was correct.  If contact is made in fair territory, it’s a live ball.  In foul territory, a foul ball.

Question 3:  Team A is going to play a double header.  Team A's coach fills out a lineup card for both of the games to be played. He mistakenly hands the lineup card for the second game of the double header to the umpire but had given Team B's scorekeeper the correct lineup for the game that was about to begin.  In the top of the first inning, A-3 bats to lead off the game and doubles.  She moves to third base on a sacrifice bunt.  After the  sacrifice bunt play is over Team B's scorekeeper points out that A-3 batted  in the leadoff spot but is listed as the #3 batter on her lineup card she  was given.  According to that lineup card Player A-3 is due to bat now but she’s standing safe at third. Team B appeals batting out of order after the second batter in the order was put out.  Now what? Additional information:   The second batter, who sacrificed #3 to third, is correct batter in second slot.  Before the next batter comes to the plate, the error is detected and coaches and umpires meet to discuss.

Answer:  #3 was out of order but second batter completed her turn at bat and since she was the correct second batter there is no penalty to Team A.  The correct batter should be the batter who follows #3 on the lineup card submitted to the umpire.  Thereafter, Team A follows that lineup card submitted to the umpire.

Question 4:  The pitch is called a strike and the umpire gives the count verbally "one ball, two strikes". Without explanation, the batter walks to and enters the dugout.  What is the ruling?  What can be done to manage this situation?

Answer:  I would give the benefit of the doubt to the batter.   The batter is not out for leaving the field of play.  Call the batter back to the plate and re-announce the count.

Question 5:  Batter makes an effort to bunt the pitch (in the umpires judgment the batter clearly offers) but the ball is out of the strike zone and the batter misses the ball and the ball hits the batter. Strike or HBP?

Answer:  Strike.  Rule 7-3-2.  If the batter attempts to bunt and is hit by the pitch it is a dead ball strike regardless of the location of the pitch.

Question 6:  Pitch is clearly out of the strike zone but within the batters box and as the batter makes an effort to avoid the pitch it hits her on the hand as she holds the bat.  In the umpire's judgment the batter did NOT offer at the pitch.  Strike or HBP?

Answer:  Dead ball, HBP.  Hands are part of the body, not part of the bat.  Thus, if batter is not swinging or pitch is not within the strike zone, batter is awarded first.

Question 7:  The umpire told the batters a number of times that they must keep 1 foot in the batter's box between pitches, while taking signs from the head coach.  Years ago, when I coached baseball, I knew this was a baseball rule, but I don't recall ever seeing it for softball.  Can you confirm if this is a rule so I can instruct my team correctly?

Answer:  Rule 7-3-1 governs this situation and at this time there is no rule that a batter must keep one foot inside the batter’s box.  The 10 second rule is intended to keep game moving along.


RULE 8: Batter-Runner and Runner

Question 1:  There is a runner on 1st base, and the batter lays down a bunt.  Runner on first rounds second base.  There is interference on the batter hitting the first base person.  Batter is called out, and we sent the runner back to first base even though the base runner had made it past second before the infraction.  Did we enforce the correct call?  The coach argued that the base runner should have been able to stay at second base.

Answer:  Penalty 8-6-10, if the runner interferes, “The ball is dead and the runner is out.  Each other runner must return to the last base touched at the time of the interference.”  So, if either umpire knows with certainty that runner at first touched second before the interference she is placed at second.  If not, she is returned to first.

Question 2:  At our game last night the question was brought up as to whether the Flex player could be used as a courtesy runner for the pitcher.  The umpire made the decision to allow our opponent to use the Flex as the courtesy runner for the pitcher.  Is this legal?

Answer:  No, NFHS 8-9-3  “players who are currently in the game or have participated in the game in any other playing capacity are ineligible to serve as courtesy runners.” The umpire should not have allowed it as the FLEX player is not a proper substitute in this situation.

Question 3:  When we have a runner on third and a batter walks we sometimes have the batter that walked go on to second.  Last night our opponent threw the ball to first base which made our player stop at the base.  Since the pitcher or catcher made a play on our player can our player still go on to second after the ball is thrown back to the pitcher?

Answer:  Rule 8-7-3; “Once the runner stops at a base for any reason, she will be declared out if she leaves the base" covers this situation.  For additional clarification from John Peterson; if the defense throws to 1st or other infielder when batter walks, then the Look Back Rule is not in effect.  Thus, the runners are not obligated to stay on the base and can leave at risk of being tagged out.  If the runner on first in this play left the bag as the ball is thrown back to the pitcher (leaves the bag before the pitcher catches the throw) and the pitcher is within the circle, then that is legal and the runner can advance to second at the risk of being tagged out.  The runner at third can also leave the bag prior to pitcher catching the throw in the circle.  Assuming this happens, the runner(s) can stop once and then "immediately" advance or return (Rule 8-7-2).  The base umpire would watch the runner at first and the plate umpire the runner at third to be sure they comply with requirements of the Look Back Rule. Look Back Rule is only in effect when pitcher has the ball within the circle. The complicating factor is what the pitcher does if the runners leave the base legally.  If she "makes a play" (including a fake throw) then the runners are released from Look Back Rule requirements.  The play or fake throw creates unregulated situation where anything can happen.  I have not seen any clarification from NFHS giving us guidance on when, in this situation, the Look Back Rule is again in effect.  Can runners dance off base endlessly once pitcher fakes a throw?  My interpretation is to reinstate the rule once no play is obvious, i.e. pitcher stops any action and runners have had time to react to her inactivity.  Historically, in plays like these I have seen runner go one way or the other or pitcher actually throws the ball to a fielder.

Question 4:  We are on defense with two outs and a runner on second base, first base is empty. Girl hits a ground ball we make the play and are out of the inning....Not....catcher hits batters bat with glove (runner not trying to advance on pitch and no delayed dead ball obstruction signal) So umpire, as he should, puts the runner on first for catcher interference (obstruction). I asked for time and very politely asked him to put runner back on second. He said no she gets third.   Am I wrong?

Answer:  You are correct: Rule 8-1-1d.  EFFECTS:  1. The umpire shall give a delayed dead-ball signal.  2. If the batter hits the ball and reaches first base safely and if all other runners have advanced at least one base on the batted ball, catcher obstruction is canceled. All action as a result of the batted ball stands. No option is given. Once a runner has passed a base, the runner is considered to have reached that base (whether missing the base or not) and no options are given.  3. Otherwise, the coach or captain of the team at bat, after being informed by the plate umpire of the obstruction, has the option to take the result of the play, or have the obstruction enforced by awarding the batter first base and advancing all other runners only if forced.

Question 5:  At a Varsity reserve game, they had bases loaded and 1 out.  The defense had the outfield playing shallow. The count was 2-1, and the batter hit a line drive between 1st and 2nd that neither f3 nor f4 had a chance at fielding, in flight the batted ball hit r3 in the shoulder and rolled toward f4, the ball remained live, and two runs scored and runners remained on 1st and 2nd. With the ball in flight the right fielder has a chance to catch a fly ball for an out, how I read 8.6.11, that should be a dead ball and an out by interference even though the ball got by f3 and f4.  Can you help me clarify?

Answer:  From this description, Rule 8-8-4.  Runner is not out when, "...hit with a fair, untouched batted ball that has passed an infielder, excluding the pitcher, and, in the judgment of the umpire, no other fielder had a chance to make an out."  Description says neither F3 nor F4 had a play.  However, description does ask "With the ball in flight the right fielder has a chance to catch a fly ball for an out."   While it is hard to imagine a line drive low enough to the ground that it hits a runner can be caught by the right fielder, if, in the umpire's judgment the right fielder had that chance, then you would invoke Rule 8-6-11.

Question 6:  We had a situation where we had a runner on 3rd base with 2 outs and the batter walked.  The batter (runner) rounded first took 4 steps and stopped.  The pitcher was not yet in the circle.  The runner at 1st placed her hands on her knees and stood there.  The pitcher kept walking to the pitchers circle but was not there.  She ignored the runner.  The field umpire then called the runner out for making an attempt towards 2nd and then returning to 1st base.  When I asked he said putting her hands on her knees was an implied move to 2nd so when she went back to 1st he called her out.  Personally, I don't see how this possibly could have been called.  There was no attempt by the runner, throw or movement by the pitcher, or anything else involved.  The umpire then told me between innings it’s only the 2nd time in 15 years he ever made that call.  I am thinking he shouldn't have made it at all.  I understand the movement or attempt if it’s made but my runners are taught not to do that as they will probably steal on the next pitch anyway.

Answer:  “Umpire error.  Rule 8-7-1, Look-back rule will be in effect when the ball is live, the batter-runner has touched first base or has been declared out, and the pitcher has possession of the ball within the pitcher's circle (2-45: both feet within or partially within circle).

Question 7:  Trying to figure out the number of bases to award.  Runner on first pitched ball gets away from the catcher and goes into dead ball territory before the runner gets to second and as the runner gets to second.  Is this rule 5-1-g3 because the dead ball area is a fence door to the team bench area?

Answer:  Please refer to Rule 8-4-3c "(FP) a wild pitch or passed ball lodges in or goes under, over or through the backstop."  Penalty: The ball is dead and all runners are awarded one base only,” Refer also to the Dead Ball Table; 1 base from the time of the pitch.

Question 8:  Per efforts to use speed-up rules in games, is it required to run for catchers when there are two outs?  I thought there was something in the preseason video and documentation that this rule was being used to emphasize keeping games moving.  However, I checked both Softball and Baseball rule books and they only state that courtesy runners may be used for pitcher and catcher as part of adopted speed-up rules.
Please clarify this for me for both baseball and softball and this one is probably a good one to add.  I know a lot of travel leagues and 14 and under leagues do use this rule so that catchers can get back and get ready to catch the next half-inning.

Answer:  There is not a requirement that catchers have a courtesy runner in softball.

Question 9:  With a runner on first and two outs, a batter swung at a third strike in the dirt.  The ball got past the catcher; both runners advanced and were safe.  After the play, the umpire called the batter out because first base was occupied and ended the inning. I'm not familiar with softball rules, but in baseball with two outs, I'm pretty sure the batter can run to first base even if it is occupied.  If the bases are loaded, for instance, the catcher can just step on home plate for the force out.

Answer:  Incorrect call.  Rule 8-1-1; “The batter becomes a batter-runner with the right to attempt to score by advancing to first...when:  Rule 8-1-1b; “The catcher fails to catch the third strike before the ball touches the ground when there are fewer than two outs and first base is unoccupied at the time of the pitch, or anytime there are two outs.”

Question 10:  Situation: 1 out, runner on first.  Batter lined foul and ball was caught by first baseman (out #2) in foul territory.  Runner had begun to advance on the hit, but attempted to return to first base.  The first baseman stepped on the orange half of first base while the runner began to slide.  The first baseman also tried to tag the runner but failed to do so before the runner returned to the white half of first base.   The field umpire ruled safe.  The fielding team head coach appealed the play, and I ruled runner was out (#3) and inning over because the fielder contacted the orange half of the bag before the runner returned to the white half.

Answer:  Correct call.  Rule 8-10-3 and Case Book 8.10.2  Regarding the appeal (from John Peterson); It is not strictly an appeal play, but covered under Rule 10-1-4, "If there is reasonable doubt about some decision being in conflict with the rules, the coach or captain may ask that the correct ruling be made."  However, proper mechanics for this situation is provided in the next sentence, "The umpire making the decision may ask another umpire for information before making a final decision. “Thus, the umpires should have conferred and the calling umpire should have reversed his/her call.

Question 11:  Runner on third is off with the pitch and stops 15 to 20 feet off the bag.  Catcher throws it back quickly to the pitcher in the circle while the runner is still off the base.  The runner at third makes a fake towards the plate with a couple of short steps and then took two shuffle steps back towards third stopped, still 15 to 20 feet from third.  The pitcher looks away and the runner broke for the plate.  The pitcher throws to home with and errant throw, the catcher has no play. My understanding of the rule was that when the runner at third made the fake towards the plate she committed to go because the ball was already in the circle.  And because she did go to home she was open for a play, which was mishandled by the defensive team.  If she would have returned to third at that time she should have been declared out because of the move toward home committed her to go to home.  Since she went to home I did not call her out.  Should I have called her out for the fake to home or sent her back to third because of the shuffle steps to third.  Or is there another ruling I am not considering at this point?

Answer:  The Runner is out under Rule 8-7, Look-Back rule.  Once the pitcher has the ball and is standing inside the circle (both feet on within the lines), the runner(s) must immediately return to their base or advance to next base.  Only caveat is that if the batter has become a batter-runner the Look-Back rule is not in effect until the batter-runner touches first base.  I assume in the play below, the batter had not become a batter-runner and therefore the runner should be called out.  If the batter in this play was batter-runner then the runner can do anything they want as far as stopping, running, dancing etc.  See Case Book 8.7.1 Situations A and C.

Question 12:  1 out in the top of the 7th inning with runners on first and second.  The next batter hit a pop up to our second baseman and she was clearly under the ball and the infield fly rule was called.  The batter is out and the runners advance at their own risk.  Our second baseman caught the pop up and threw the ball to second to our shortstop, who was clearly on the bag.  The throw beat the runner and it should have been a double play and then we are out of the inning.  Instead the base umpire first said that the runner needs to be tagged on the infield fly rule.  When the runner was not tagged he called her safe.  I questioned the call that she doesn't need to tag her and that the ball beat her to the base and it should be a double play.  The umpire then changes his mind and says that the shortstop straddled the bag and didn't touch the base.  What is the correct call on this play?

Answer:  The coach is correct regarding the rule on infield fly.  The definition is under Rule 2-30.  Also under Rule 8-2-9.  Case book has plays under both these rules.  Situation B is similar to his play.  In this play the ball is live.  The batter is out which removes any possible force play on the runners.  It does not remove the possibility of an appeal that a runner failed to retouch a base after the fly ball is caught or left her base early.   In these cases the runner can be tagged out (if off her base) or put out by touching the base she left early.  This is one example of a "live ball appeal" under Rule 2, Section 1, Article 3a.  It is possible that the umpire was thinking that since the force was removed the runner on first was safe when the shortstop touched second.  He didn't realize it was an appeal of R1 who left second early.  My thinking is supported by the umpire's comment that a runner had to be tagged on an infield fly, which is correct under the rule.  Since the force is removed, runners who attempt to advance have to be tagged.  However, to repeat, runners who leave early on a caught infield fly can be called out if they do not retouch the base or leave early.  This could have and should have been corrected when the coach came out to question the call.  It is unfortunate that the two umpires did not confer to get this call right.

Question 13:  Runner on 3rd, and batter walks, goes right past 1st and onto 2nd.  Ruling? Legal?

Answer:  Legal.  Rule 8-7-4; “Responsibilities of batter-runner after completing a turn at bat . . including a base on balls....”  8-7-4a; “A batter-runner who rounds first base toward second base may stop, but then must immediately, without stopping, return to first or attempt to advance to second base.”

Question 14:  R1 & R2 on first and second with no one out.  B1 bunts a hard bunt to F3.  She fielded the ball cleanly.  The throw to first was late and B1 was safe.  The first baseman threw the ball to the pitcher who was in the 16' circle.  Here is where it gets interesting. B1 thought she was out and left the base, walking five to six feet towards the first base dugout, when the coach (in the third base box) hollered out, “You are safe, get back on the bag.”  No throw was made, batter returned to first, and no call was made. Discussing after the game, with the ball in the circle, the runner left the bag.  No attempt to advance was made.  Looking further, if this was a ‘designed play’ to draw a throw and the R2 scores from third from the advance, the offense has gained an advantage.  What would the call be?

Answer:  Determining if this were a “designed” play cannot be a part of the ruling.  Provided the runner has not entered deadball territory, she would not be considered to have abandoned the base (8-6-19).  Therefore the defense takes the risk if they choose to throw to first to attempt a play on the runner.

Question 15:  Last week we had a team with a DP in the 7th batting spot, batting for the pitcher who was the FLEX in the 10th spot on the card.  In the 3rd inning the DP walked and went to first.  The coach then entered the FLEX (the pitcher ) for the DP at first, which is OK, but then he entered a courtesy runner for the pitcher (the FLEX).  He said he could do this. I don't think this is correct.

Answer:  Illegal.  Rule 8-9-2:  "The pitcher or catcher must bat and reach base legally (or earn their way on base) in order to be eligible for a courtesy runner."

Question 16:  Last season, we twice had the same situation come up in a game and we had two different interpretations.  A slapper in the box makes contact with the ball on a bunt.  After making contact (a bunt) the momentum of the batter carries the batter 2-4 feet in front of home plate where the defensive players are waiting to field the ball.  The ball is fielded by the third baseman, but the runner has made contact with the first baseman who is in the field of play and 3-4 feet away from the baseline.  The first time the runner was called out, and the second time the runner was awarded first base.  What is the correct call?   When the runner was called out she was called out for being outside the base line or running lane.  When the runner was awarded first base it was called obstruction.

Answer:  The running lane from home plate to first base begins 30 feet from home plate.  There is no restriction on a batter running to first until she reaches the running lane.  Rule 8-2-5, covers running lane.  A batter-runner who does not run in the running lane is liable to be called out if she interferes with a throw.  The case book covers this situation under 8-2-5 Situations A, B, C & D.  Rule 8-4-3b covers Obstruction.  Runner is entitled to advance when "a fielder not in possession of the ball and not making an initial play on a batted ball, impedes the progress of a runner or batter-runner who is legally running bases (bolding added)."  Obstruction is delayed dead ball and the ball remains alive until and when the batter-runner is thrown or tagged out before reaching first base.  Then a dead ball is called and the obstruction enforced.  Thus, ruling should be: obstruction on F3, award batter first base if she is thrown or tagged out. The batter-runner could only be called out if she interfered with F3 who is making an initial play on the batted ball.

Question 17:  The FLEX player is listed correctly on the lineup card in the ten spot as the pitcher.  In the top of the first inning (or at any other time during the game), the DP reaches base.  Once the DP has safely reached base, the FLEX (pitcher) is substituted in for the DP and then a courtesy runner is brought in to run. Legal? Does it matter that the FLEX (pitcher) is not the one to reach base, and how might this affect the use of a courtesy runner?

Answer:  Not legal.  Per Rule 8-9 Courtesy Runner, which states:  "The pitcher or catcher must bat and reach base legally (or earn their way on base) in order to be eligible for a courtesy runner."  Since the DP is not playing defense when she earns her way on base she is neither the pitcher nor the catcher and is thus not eligible for courtesy runner.  However, had the visiting coach reported at the pre-game meeting that the DP was going into pitch or catch she is, per Rule 9-9-2, the pitcher of record and once on base IS eligible for a courtesy runner.  The DP/pitcher must face at least one batter (one pitch) in bottom of first.  If she does not, the courtesy runner becomes substitute and DP/pitcher must re-enter.

Question 18:  The FLEX player is listed on the lineup card at 1st base. Knowing that the DP can play in the field for anyone other than the FLEX and it does not count as a substitution, can the DP start the game as the pitcher although not listed on the lineup card as the pitcher?  And, when the DP reaches base, can a courtesy runner be used for her if she was pitching in the half inning prior to her at bat?  In other words, is the courtesy runner being used for the P position, or the person pitching at that time even if they are not listed on the lineup card as the pitcher?

Answer:  Complex question.  Answers: Yes, DP can start the game as pitcher.  Yes, courtesy runner can be used after top of 1st since she has actually pitched.  Courtesy runner is running for player who is either pitcher or catcher.

First, as described above, the DP can enter defensively and pitch.  This can happen anytime during and after the pre-game meeting.  If that happens the FLEX has left the game and must re-enter.

Second, since the DP was entered into the game defensively, courtesy runner is allowed.  In top of 1st inning only, she must then pitch to a batter in the bottom of the 1st.

Third, the courtesy runner is running for the player who is the pitcher or catcher.  As rule states, after the top of the first it is the player who last played at that position.


RULE 9: Scoring and Record Keeping

Question 1:  With 2 outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd base, the batter hits a deep fly ball that is caught by the Right-fielder(F9).  Prior to F9 touching the ball, the runner on 3rd begins to advance toward home while the runner on 2nd legally tags and is safe at home on a close play.  Once the ball is dead, the defense appeals that the runner on 3rd left early.  The umpire rules the runner out and nullifies the run, but allows the run scored from 2nd to count since she touched home plate prior to the appeal being made.  Correct?

Answer:  Incorrect.  Since the runner from 3rd was ruled out on appeal for the 3rd out of the inning, no run can be scored on this play.  (Rule 9-1-1, Exception C).

Question 2:  There are no outs, a runner on 2nd and a 2-1 count on the batter.  The pitch is low and gets by the catcher.  The baserunner attempts to steal 3rd base.  In a rush to retrieve the ball, the catcher throws her helmet and stops the ball.  She then throws the ball to 3rd in an attempt to retire the runner.  The umpire rules that the runner is safe at 3rd and awards the batter 1st base.  Correct?

Answer:  Correct. Since the pitch was ball four, the batter has now completed her turn at bat and should be awarded 1st base.  The runner is awarded 3rd base - one base from the time of the pitched ball. (Rule 8-4-3d).

Question 3:  Runners on first and third with two outs. The batter has two balls two strikes, the pitch is made, the batter swings strike three, but the ball gets away from the catcher, the batter stands there, the runner that's on third crosses home plate on the passed ball and the batter takes off to first and gets thrown out. The run should not count correct?

Answer:  Correct.  Rule 9-1-1, Exception; “A run is not scored if the runner advances to home plate during action in which the third out is made as follows:  A. by the batter-runner before touching first base”

Question 4:  No outs.  Runners at 2nd & 3rd.  The hit was a slow roller to SS.  The only force play was 1st base.  SS faked the throw to 1st, then turned to check runner at 3rd (hoping the runner at 3rd would run home.  The runner didn't.  So no play was made because she wanted to keep our runner at 3rd from scoring.  How would this be scored?

Answer:  Fielder's choice.


RULE 10: Umpiring

Question 1:  I worked a game where the ball went just outside the fence and someone tossed it back to the 3rd baseman.  She threw it to the pitcher. Coach wanted the other ball used instead.  Would this be a requirement?

Answer:  There is no specific direction as to what happens when "ball goes out of play or becomes blocked" so I would argue it comes under umpire discretion.  We have the discretion to allow a pitcher to change balls when it becomes wet, dirty or damaged.  Ball rotation was added to speed up game so pitcher wasn't waiting for a ball that went out of play because she liked it.  Thus, I use common sense when ball goes out of play.  If it goes out and doesn't come right back, I give catcher new ball and if the ball out of play is thrown back in, I have it thrown to me.  In this situation I would have let it stay in and not forced a change.  The umpire has the authority as per Rule 10.

Question 2:  On a check swing can a coach from the dugout request help from base umpire to overrule plate umpire and make the call? Or does the plate umpire have to make the request for help from base umpire on check swings?

Answer:  Rule 10-1-4 allows for the coach/captain to ask for correct call be made.  The plate umpire then asks the base umpire for help.  This is also referenced in the Case Book, 10.2.3 where the catcher asks the PU for the correct call.

Question 3:  At a recent game the host school was playing music over the loud speakers both between innings and between batters that I, as the plate umpire, could not communicate with the coaches when they were making line-up changes.  Do I have the authority to ask that the music be turned off or down?

Answer:  Yes.  NFHS Rule 10-2-2 gives the plate umpire authority over any rules matters not specifically mentioned in the rule book.



Question 1:  We currently have 18 players out for softball and we are trying to see if we would be able to have a JV and a varsity team. The only way to pull this off is to have JV and varsity not play at the same time.

A.  If a player would play 3 innings on varsity and 3 on JV would that be considered 1 game towards the maximum number?   Yes

B.  If a player would play in 2 innings on varsity and 4 on JV on the same day, would that count as 1 as well?   No, 4 innings in the JV Game counts as a game and 2 innings in the Varsity game counts as a game.

C.  Is there any split where it would count as 2 games against the maximum?   3 innings is the max number of innings that a girl could play in the JV game, and 1 inning is the max that a girl could play in the Varsity game without it counting as it’s own game.

This is the rule that we are referencing:


a.  A student may not participate in more than 26 games, but a student who participates at multiple levels on the same day playing in one inning of a varsity game or three innings of a subvarsity game does not count toward the maximum number of games.

Question 2:  Are protests of games allowed?

Answer:  Please refer to the Bylaws VII Sect. 2 of the Senior High Handbook; "The right of a school administrator to protest shall include decisions of game officials, related to errors in application of game rules, but protests a) will not be allowed in Association tournament competition as pertaining to decisions of game officials, b) must be called to the attention of the Association office no later than the following day (not including Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays), c) cannot be honored if they involve judgment situations, d) will not result in replaying or repeating any game, meet match, event, or race or any portion of any game, meet match, event, or race and e) cannot supersede or bypass procedures for questioning officials outlined in the official rule book of a sport."

Question 3:  We have only 8 girls on our junior varsity team.  Are we allowed to scrimmage instead of forfeiting all of our games?

Answer:  It is permissible for your girls’ junior varsity softball team to play a schedule consisting only of scrimmages due to your low roster numbers.  It is my understanding that your conference commissioner and athletic directors from your conference have agreed to this arrangement.  It is your responsibility to inform your opponents and when hosting games also inform the umpires.  Please refer to the following language per WIAA regulations:


a. One scrimmage, over one day, with another school or schools may be conducted in addition to the maximum allowed games, meets, or contests, provided all athletes participating meet all WIAA and school eligibility requirements (exceptions: students ineligible due to academic deficiency, code of conduct violations, or those required to miss the next competitive event, due to being ejected from their last competitive event, may participate at the discretion of the school), and:

(1) Five different days of practice have elapsed.

(2) There is no loss of academic class time.

(3) There is no score in a book, or on a scoreboard.

(4) A format other than three outs per inning is used.

b. Any interschool scrimmage other than the one in 4.a. counts toward the maximum allowed games.

c. Each high school team, i.e., varsity, JV, freshman is allowed one scrimmage.

d. An individual student is allowed to participate in only one day of scrimmage activity. Note: An individual student may participate in multiple levels of scrimmages conducted on the same day.  Note: If either school counts a scrimmage as a game, it must be counted as a game for both programs, schools or teams.

Question 4:  Is an 8th grader allowed to play for a high school team?

Answer:  From the Senior High Handbook (page 35); "A student is eligible...if he/she is:  carried on the attendance rolls as....Grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 student in that member school."  Eighth graders are not eligible to compete on senior high school teams.

Question 5:  Teams are starting to use the wristbands designed for use by football quarterbacks to reference their plays.  Are these legal in softball?  Concerns about the amount of time being spent by the defensive players referencing the called play.

Answer:  From the NFHS staff:  “It would be allowed as long as it is not distracting to the batter.

Question 6:  Are Varsity, JV or Freshman coaches allowed to coach a PRACTICE during the WIAA Softball season with their summer travel team?  I understand fully that they are in no shape or form allowed to play in any scrimmages or games during that time.

Answer:  Athletes may practice with non-school teams during their high school season.  If a high school coach also is the coach of a summer team and has the same athletes on that summer team, it would appear that they could be practicing for 7 straight days.  This is not allowed per WIAA rules.  I always encourage summer team coaches to communicate with the athletic director and high school coach regarding their practiced plans.  We have received reports from parents that their daughter(s) who are pitchers have suffered from overuse injuries when trying to accommodate both their high school and summer team's practices.  Please communicate and use caution.

Question 7:  I know we can play rescheduled games after the tournament series begins.  I don't think our fields will be ready for our invitational on Saturday. Can we reschedule the invitational for Saturday, May 18?  And, if any of the teams from the original field can't come that day, could we fill the field with another team or teams?

Answer:  The invitational can be rescheduled for a date after the tournament has begun.  Only the teams originally scheduled to attend can play in the rescheduled tournament.  You aren’t allowed to add teams since only games on their original schedule can be rescheduled once the WIAA Tournament begins.

Question 8:  I didn't think teams could agree to 5-inning doubleheaders, international tie-breaker, and/or time limits at the varsity level.  Please advise.

Answer:  Please refer to the WIAA Softball Season Regulations, page 29:  National Federation Allowed Adaptations, letter f.  “The International Tie-breaker may be used, with prior agreement/announcement; for all regular season games......” and letter h. “The number of innings for one or both games in a doubleheader may be scheduled for five innings.”

Question 9:  At a recent junior varsity game, the first baseman was a senior.  Are there rules that would prohibit her from playing on the JV team?

Answer:  This is either a local school or conference decision.  WIAA rules would not prohibit her from playing at a sub varsity level.

Question 10:  Our conference is wanting to play JV softball games the same night after the varsity games.  Is this ok?  It might be only 3-4 innings, but with the lovely Wisconsin weather, we thought it would make the most sense.  I had an athletic director tell me that it was illegal to do this, so I am just clarifying.

Answer:  Not allowed.  All games, at all levels must be 7 inning games, time limit games, or if a double header may be 2-5 inning games.  (See page 29 of the Softball Season Regulations, National Federation Allowed Adaptations).  If would be permissible to play the varsity game first and then play the subvarsity, hoping to get 7 innings in but if called due to darkness the game would not be required to be completed.

Question 11:  Prior to a home teams warming up period are they allowed to:

1) use any part of the infield to take ground balls, pop ups, etc?

2) can they use the part of the infield that is in foul territory?

We have run into some teams that will use the foul territory part of the infield to take grounders, etc., and umpires have not said anything to them.  Just wondering if this is allowed or not allowed.

Answer:  The language on page 29 of the Softball Season Regulations state:  "35 minutes prior to the start of the game the home team will take the field.  The field is defined as the entire enclosed field (live ball area)."  Unfortunately, the current language is only required for the WIAA Tournament Series and recommended for the regular season.  If your conference has not adopted this language I would highly recommend that it be added to your conference by-laws.

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WI Adaptations to NFHS Rules

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