Softball Weekly 'Blast' for Sept. 15


COACHING ISSUES – Defensive coaches are NOT allowed to be positioned outside the confines of the dugout, period. This includes being behind the backstop to signal pitches.  Defensive coaches may stand/sit in the opening of the dugout but may not stand/sit outside the opening. Per NFHS/GHSA rules, offensive coaches, in the coaching box areas, shall be dressed alike and may not wear opened toed shoes. Upper body garments shall be the same in design and color and may be long or short sleeved. Lower body garments shall match in color and may be long or short length.

BATTERS BOX – Rule 1-1-4, Figure 1-1: The dimensions of the batter’s box shall be 4 feet forward and 3 feet back.  If it is discovered the dimensions are incorrect it SHALL be corrected immediately.  We have received complaints that umpires have told coaches that they will play as drawn and will not correct the error.  Corrections need to be made as soon as errors are discovered.

LINE-UP CARDS – Rule 3-1-3; 4-1-2b: Lineup cards will be submitted by the coaches to the umpires at the pregame conference.  This shall occur at every game.  The lineup cars shall be accepted by the umpires and used during the game to keep track of substitutes, etc.  Until the plate umpire accepts the lineup card as final coaches can make changes in batting order, etc., and it shall not be considered a substitution.

RESTRICTION TO DUGOUT: Umpires have the option use this penalty.  However, if ejection is warranted it shall be assessed.  When a coach is restricted to the dugout, he/she must remain in the dugout at all times and may not be on the field to make for any reason. If the restricted coach violates these provisions, an ejection shall be assessed.

NFHS Softball Weekly Rule Interpretations

Fast Pitch Strike Zone

The fast pitch strike zone as described in Rule 2-56-3 is the space over home plate which is between the batter’s forward armpit and the top of 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. The umpire shall determine the batter's strike zone according to the batter's usual stance.

There is little confusion about the description above. Where the discussion arises is around what is considered the “batter’s natural batting stance” or “batter’s usual stance”. In slow pitch the definition in Rule 2-56-4 mentions “when swinging at a pitch” but the fast pitch definition does not have this description. The reason being, in slow pitch the only option for a batter is to swing at the pitch (bunting or chopping at the ball are illegal, Rule 7-4-10).  In fast pitch, the batter could contact the ball by swinging, bunting or slapping. The majority of players batting stances are very similar whether they are swinging, bunting or slapping. However, some batters do adjust their stance significantly when bunting or slapping. If the fast pitch definition said “when swinging” there would be questions about how or if the zone should change if the batter attempted a bunt or should umpires consider a third strike zone when the batter is slapping. Another question might be what strike zone the pitcher should aim for, as many times the pitcher has released the ball prior to the batter squaring to bunt.

As with so many other aspects in the game of softball, umpire judgement plays a role in determining the batter’s natural batting stance and being consistent in the enforcement of the strike zone is no different from having consistency when making other judgement calls during the game. 

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