This is the first in a series of 2019 season weekly softball umpire bulletins. We will cover issues pertinent to softball including, but not limited to, game issues, rule interpretations, etc. This issue will cover items of importance.
TIE GAMES: There have been instances where umpires have allowed Varsity games end in a tie. This is a violation of GHSA Policy. All Varsity games both in invitational tournaments and regular season must have a winner. In invitational tournaments if the score is tied and time limit has expired, you go to the tie breaker in the next inning which starts after the time limit expired. During regular season games you go to the tie breaker in the 10th inning.
ILLEGAL PITCH: Per Rule 6-1-1b, the pitcher MUST “take (or simulate taking) a sign from the catcher”. She cannot walk through the pitch (step on the pitcher’s plate and immediately bring her hands together). We have already received complaints of umpires not enforcing this requirement. It is your job to enforce every rule as written and not selectively enforce some and not others. DO THE JOB YOU ARE PAID TO DO.
PLAYER SAFETY: Rule 3-3-9 states “Any player who exhibits signs, systems, or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion, or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the game and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.” It does not matter what the coach, player or player’s parents say – the player must be removed. It is the responsibility of the umpires to ensure this is done.
LIGHTNING: Upon arrival at the ball field you need to locate the game/site manager and ensure he/she has access to a lightning detector or if there is an automated system. If automated you must get the players off the field and not restart the game until the all clear is sounded. If the game manager has a portable lightning detector, it is his/hers responsibility to inform you of a lightning issue based upon county guidelines (lightning guidelines may differ county to county). The game cannot resume until at least 30 minutes has elapsed since the last lightning strike. Umpires have the authority to and should remove players from field prior to notification when they see lightning.
STRIKE ZONE – If there is any question about what the strike zone is for fast pitch softball, go to page 27 of the 2019 NFHS Rules Book. Rule 2-56 art. 3 clearly describes what the strike zone is; “the space over home plate which is between the batter’s forward armpit and the top of the knees when the batter assumes a natural batting stance. Any part of the ball passing through the strike zone in flight SHALL be considered a strike.”