Senior Softball DFW | Umpires Corner
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Umpires Corner

Umpires Corner


Any rule on the books about a pitcher taking 1-3 warm up pitches BETWEEN innings?

Jim Thomas

Thanks for the question.

USA SB rule 6.C.8 says “At the beginning of each half inning, the pitcher may take no more than one minute to take no more than 3 warmup pitches.” This is true for the start of the game, also.

Exception includes when the batter is not ready or there is some other delay, the pitcher may continue to warmup.

Technically, the one minute begins when the third out of the previous half-inning is made. So, if the pitcher dawdles coming out, it is possible the umpire will not allow any warmups if the one minute has expired. This is never enforced in our league, but I wish some of our pitchers would speed it up a little.


SSUSA rule book Rule 6.11 (1) has almost exact wording.

Our rule 6C has exact same wording, but says no more than FIVE warm-up pitches. Some of our pitchers need to be reminded that FIVE is the limit.


When I umpire, I am a little lenient on the one minute in the first inning, but very tight on future innings, so as to keep the game moving.

If the pitcher throws a ball overhand to the catcher or any other defensive player, I take that to mean he is ready, and I call for “batter up.”

A mediocre umpire will allow the pitcher to throw as many warmup pitches as he wants, then asks the pitcher “Are you ready?” But that is not how it is supposed to be done

Related: sometimes the minute has expired and I call batter up, the first baseman will complain he hasn’t had time to warm up his infielders. But there is no rule that allows time for infielders to warm up, only the pitcher. So they have to get their warmups in by the time the pitcher gets his.

Keep those questions coming.


  1. Our rules say “All plays on all bases are force outs.” Can this be correct?
  2. Technically this is not correct and may have been a result of an attempt by the rule writers to simplify the rule. The purpose of the rule is to emphasize there are no tag outs at second base, third base or home in an attempt to reduce injuries.


The definition of a force out is: “If the runner put out is the batter-runner at first base or any other runner forced to advance because the batter became a BR.” (SSUSA Rule 1.27  USA SB Rule 8.7.G and RS #21)

The term “force”  is used when the runner is not allowed to stay on the base where he is. He is “forced” to advance. When he advances to the next base, he is out or safe depending which thing occurred first in TIME.


Another kind of play is a “time play.” This means, to determine out or safe, one must determine which thing occurred “first in time.”  This is a very common determination we make in every game.

All plays at all bases are really “time plays.” This means the umpire must determine which thing happened FIRST in time. Was the ball caught by the fielder on the bag or plate before the runner touched the bag or scoring line? EFFECT: Runner is out.

OR… did the runner touch the bag/scoring line before the fielder on the bag/plate caught the ball? EFFECT: Runner is safe.


Another kind of play is a tag play.A runner may be tagged out anywhere when he is off the base with the excepton of the last 20 feet from 3B to the scoring line. Exception: At 2B and 3B, the runner can run through the line without being in jeopardy of being tagged out. However, if he makes any attempt to advance, he can now be tagged.

Other examples of Time Plays (aka “timing” plays):

  1. R1 leaves 1B before the fly ball is caught by F9. F9 throws the ball to F3 standing on 1B as R1 hustles back. Which thing occurred first in TIME?  R1 touching 1B or F3 catching the ball at 1B? This time play determines whether R1 is safe or out.
  2. R1 at 2B. Two outs. B2 hits a base hit to the outfield. B2 tries for 2B but is tagged out. R1 crosses the scoring line. Which occurred first in TIME? The tag of B2 or R1 stepping over the scoring line? If the tag occurred first, the run does not count.

Recommendation: This should be changed in MSCSA rules.

Proposed rule change to be voted on by the coaches:

Rule 7 BASE RUNNING  Delete the sentence “Thus, all plays at all four bases are force plays.”

5-8-18 D. Martin




  1. Is it true that as long as the batter has at least one foot in the box, the pitcher can release a pitch?
  2. Incorrect. This is a common misconception. SSUSA and USA SB rules agree. The pitcher may NOT deliver a pitch until the batter is ready to hit. To do so otherwise is called a “Quick Pitch” and is illegal. SSUSA rule 1.56 Quick Pitch reads “This would be before the batter takes his desired position in the batter’s box or while he is still off balance as a result of the previous pitch.” and “EFFECT: the umpire shall call time and allow the batter to get set.” USA SB rule 6.C.7 reads “ EFFECT: illegal pitch,” and thus a ball on the batter if he does not swing.

A related situation would be when the batter takes excessive time to get in the box (more than ten seconds). In this case the umpire may call a strike on the batter. (Both rule books agree.)


Recommendation: A clarification should be added to MSCSA rules in this regard.

Proposed rule clarification to be voted on by the coaches:

“Rule 6C [add] The pitcher may not pitch until the batter is ready or until the umpire instructs him to do so.”


5-2-18 D. Martin





  1. What is the rule regarding the batter’s feet in the box?


  1. Both SSUSA and USA SB rule books agree. Prior to the pitch, the batter must have both feet completely within the confines of the box. This includes the lines. At the time the batter hits the ball, he must have both feet at least partially within the confines of the box. This means he can have some of one or both feet outside the box. If the batter’s feet are not in the box prior to the pitch, the umpire should call time and instruct the batter to step completely in the box. If the batter steps completely out of the box or on home plate and hits the ball fair or foul, the umpire shall declare “Dead ball. Batter’s out.”


Recommendation: A clarification should be added to MSCSA rules in this regard.

Proposed clarification to be voted on by the coaches:

Rule 6E [add] wording above from “Prior to the pitch….”


5-2-18 D. Martin





  1. If a runner is on base, can he be called out for interference?
  2. No, with one exception. USA SB rule supplement 33 reads “In this case, the runner should not be called out unless the hindrance is intentional.” There is no similar rule in SSUSA.

A fielder must be allowed to field a ball anywhere on the playing field. But a runner entitled to the base he is standing on is not required to vacate that space. He is only required not to intentionally interfere with the playing trying to field the ball.

Recommendation: Clarification needed for our rules.

Proposed clarification to be voted on by coaches:

“Rule 7A [add] A runner in contact with the base cannot be called out for interference unless he intentionally interferes with the defensive player”

David Martin 5-2-18


April 14, 2018

Question: Can runners advance on an overthrow from catcher to pitcher?

Thanks for the question.

In leagues with stealing, the ball is live as soon as it reaches home plate or is hit.

Thus, a runner may advance at his own risk in your scenario.

However, in leagues that do NOT allow stealing, such as MSCSA, the ball is only live

when it is hit.

So, in your scenario, the runner cannot advance as the ball is not live.

Since the ball is not live, there is no penalty. The runner must return to his base.

Related scenario #1; batter draws a walk. Catcher overthrows to pitcher. Batter-runner thinks the ball is live, attempts to advance to second base. No can do. A base on balls is a ONE base award, even in leagues with stealing. (Any runners may advance in this scenario is leagues with stealing.)

Related scenario #2: Runner steps off/leads off base during a pitch before ball is hit. EFFECT: no pitch, dead ball, runner is out.

This is because the ball is NOT live on a pitch until it is hit. A runner may only advance when the ball is hit in our league.

In summary, in our league, the ball is not live until it is hit. If the runner leaves his base on a pitch, he is out. If he leaves some other time, there is no penalty, but he has to return to his base.

Keep those questions coming.


SSUSA and USA SB rules agree.

“Obstruction is the act of a fielder

  1. Not in possession of the ball
  2. Not in the act of fielding a ball which impedes the progress of a batter-runner or runner who is legally running the bases.

It is obstruction if a defensive player is blocking the base or base path without the ball and the batter-runner or runner is impeded…Contact is not necessary….”

The ball is live and the batter-runner or runner shall be awarded the base he would had reached had he not been obstructed.

When a runner has to slow down, go around, stop, change course, etc. because of a defensive player, this is obstruction. The runner may make his own base path. The defensive player does not necessarily have to be on a base or even near a base. The Runner must be allowed to run on his own path. The home plate umpire must watch for obstruction and announce “obstruction” as soon as he sees it. The ball is live. If the runner is thrown out at the next base, time should be called and the runner should be awarded that base.

David Martin 4-17-18

QUESTION: Is it legal for a fielder to stop a batted ball with his foot?
ANSWER: There is no rule against stopping a ball with your foot or any other part of your body. Also there is no rule against stopping a ball with attached equipment (i.e., glove). But, if the equipment is detached, this is illegal. For example if a fielder tosses his glove (“intentionally contacts”) at a batted ball and makes contact with the ball, the ball is still live, but the Batter-runner will be awarded at least 3 bases. (If there is no contact, there is no penalty.) On a thrown ball, the penalty is two bases. On a pitched ball, it is one base.
Detached equipment could be a glove, a cap or a mask.
David Martin interpretation 4-20-18
QUESTION: Can the catcher “talk” to the batter, and if so, are there any restrictions on what and when he can say it?
ANSWER: There is no rule that specifically covers the catcher talking to the batter. This would be a judgement call by the plate umpire. However, USA SB rule 5C.4.B and SSUSA rule 6.8 (2) read “A fielder shall not…act in a manner to distract the batter. A pitch does not have to be released. Effect: the offending player shall be ejected from the game.” If this occurs in MSCSA, the umpire should warn the catcher (or other defensive player). The umpire may also choose to  talk to the coach of the catcher’s team. One of our teams has a pitcher that frequently talks to the batter, but I don’t believe he crosses the line of distracting the batter.
Examples of what I would allow as an umpire: “Hey, batter. Swing at this next one.” “We need you to make an out this time.” And other fairly typical comments that are pretty harmless and few would take offense. Some would say even these type comments have no place in MSCSA.
Example of what I would NOT allow as an umpire: Any derogatory comments about the batter’s ability, uniform, team, family, etc. Any deliberate attempt to distract the batter when the ball is in flight or when the batter is swinging. Shouting as the batter swings. Attempts to confuse the batter with comments such as “you better swing, you already have two strikes” when he only has one. Saying “time out” or  “your foot is out of the box” or something similar. 
The same is true for the offense trying to distract the defense. “Watch out for that tree!” 
In the spirit of fun, camaraderie and the other goals of MSCSA, very little leeway should be given to trying to distract the other players. I have seen no example of this while playing MSCSA. 
Last, I refer to the Code of Ethics on page 1 of the SSUSA Rule Book which reads, in part “…when playing I will not commit any act that could be considered unsportsmanlike conduct.”
David Martin interpretation 4-20-18

“Let me know how I can help you achieve your officiating goals.”

David Martin, Denton, Texas

World Baseball Softball Confederation Certified

USA Softball Umpire 38 years

USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite

USA Softball of Texas District 13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch

North Texas Umpire Association Clinician

39 year volunteer Special Olympics