Umpires Corner
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Umpires Corner

Umpires Corner

Sept 13, 2021
We had a play today and I’m not sure the right call was made.
A player is running to third.   I’m not sure if there was a force.  The ball was a little short so the third baseman moved forward to try to catch the ball.  As he did that, he and the runner collided.    The runner fell off to the side of the base.  The third baseman picked up the ball and tagged him.    Was he out or safe?
Dennis Bashore

thanks for the question.
As Dirty Harry might say:
I know what you’re thinkin’. Was it obstruction by the defense or interference by the offense?
You have to ask yourself one question: when the collision occurred, did the defensive player have possession of the ball or not?
From what you said, I don’t think he did.
MSCSA rule 7A: Fielders may NOT block the base and base baths when they do not have the ball. If they do [block the base path] the umpire should call “obstruction” and the runner will be awarded the base he would have reached if he had not been obstructed.”
USA SB rule supplement 36: “It is obstruction if a defensive player is blocking the base or base path without the ball and the runner is impeded….If the obstructed runner is put out prior to reaching the base…a dead ball is called and the obstructed runner is awarded the base….”
On the other hand….If the defensive player DID have possession of the ball, there was a collision, and the ball was dropped/knocked loose…Dead ball. Interference by the runner. Runner is out. All other runners return.
Keep those questions coming.
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
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Special Olympics
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Aug 12, 2021
Applies only to Senior Men 55+ Division as they still have the infield fly rule:
Play: Bases loaded. Batter pops up in the infield. The umpire judges the ball can be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder. Umpire declares “Infield Fly. Batter’s out.”
Defense lets the ball drop to the ground. Runner at third had been a few steps down the line toward home. When he sees the ball hit the ground, he attempts to score, but is thrown out at the plate.
Ruling: In infield fly is a live ball. As soon as the umpire declares it, the batter is out. As a result, the runners are not forced to advance. If the ball is caught, they can advance after the first touch.
If the ball is NOT caught, it is like any other fly ball that is not caught- they do not have to tag up and can advance at their own risk.
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
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Special Olympics
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Question:                                                                                                                                                                  Aug 4, 2021
Dale Wilson (asst coach Grand Prairie Mustangs 65 + ) here and asking…..The batter hits the ball to the outfield….the runner on 2nd base is headed to home plate….the ball hits the batter’s bat which was tossed in front of home plate and caroms off, so the catcher can’t field and get the runner out ….What’s the ruling?
If the bat was “legally discarded” and a thrown ball hits it, then the ball is still in play. Legally discarded just means the batter didn’t throw the bat at the ball or throw it down the line in anger or something. And it is “In the game.” A bat not in the game, such as leaning against the fence or lying on the ground….now you’ve got interference.
Basically, if the ball hits the bat, it is live.
If the (discarded) bat hits the ball, it is a dead ball (and interference if the umpire judges it was intentional.)
Now, back to your play:
A thrown ball is live if it hits a defensive player, a base, an offensive player (who wasn’t trying to get hit), or equipment being used in the game. (discarded bat, discarded catcher’s mask, batting helmet that fell off, etc.)
In short, in your play, it is a live ball.

Hope that help and keep those questions coming. 

Denton, Texas
USA Softball
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Special Olympics
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Question:                                                                                                                                                                    August 3, 2021
David – I play for the Richardson Raiders. Our league does not employ the infield fly rule. However, there is confusion about this. Here is a given scenario. There are runners at 1st and 2nd. Batter pops up to SS or middle infielder. They let the ball drop to the ground. Neither runner advances. SS (or middle infielder) picks up the ball, tags runner at 2nd and puts his foot on 2nd base. Is this a double play or does runner at 2nd have the right to stay at 2nd safely?
Stephen Taylor


thanks for the question.
This sort of play is exactly why the infield fly rule was invented.
Stephen asked: Our league does not employ the infield fly rule. However, there is confusion about this. Here is a given scenario. There are runners at 1st and 2nd. Batter pops up to SS or middle infielder. They let the ball drop to the ground. Neither runner advances. SS (or middle infielder) picks up the ball, tags runner at 2nd and puts his foot on 2nd base. Is this a double play or does runner at 2nd have the right to stay at 2nd safely?
From wikipedia:
The rule was introduced in 1895 by the National League in response to infielders intentionally dropping pop-ups to get multiple outs by forcing out the runners on base, who were pinned near their bases while the ball was in the air. At that time, the rule only applied with one man out. The current rule came into effect in 1901.
The infield fly rule is a rule of baseball and softball that treats certain fly balls as though caught, before the ball is caught, even if the infielder fails to catch it or drops it on purpose. The umpire’s declaration of an infield fly means that the batter is out regardless of whether the ball is caught. The rule exists solely to prevent the defense from executing a double play or triple play by deliberately failing to catch a ball that an infielder could catch with ordinary effort.
Both runners are forced to advance because the batter has to go first, so the runner at first is forced to second, so then the runner at second is forced to go to  third. You said he tagged the runner at second and then stepped on second base. Yes, this is a double play. 
However, if he had stepped on second base first and then tagged the runner, the runner at second would not be out. This is because as soon as the runner at first is out (by the defense stepping on second base) the force was no longer in effect (the runner at second is no longer forced to third). The runner at second can subsequently only be out if tagged when he is off base. He has possession of/ is entitled to second base.
Hope this helps.

Keep those questions coming.

Denton, Texas
USA Softball
How can I help you with your officiating goals?
Special Olympics
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Case Play: Batter hit with own batted ball while in box.                                                             July 20,2021
B1 swings and hits ball straight up. He stays in the box while the catcher is trying to make a play on the ball. The ball comes down, hits the batter in the head and rolls into fair territory.
Possible rulings:
1.           Fair Ball?
2.           Foul ball?
3.           Batter should run to first or be thrown out?
4.           Batter should be called out for interference?
5.           Batter should only be called out if he “actively interferes” with the catcher?
6.           Batter is not out because the batter’s box is his sanctuary?
Ruling: Batter is out for interference if the umpire believes the catcher was impeded.
(Does not matter if the batter’s head was in fair or foul territory.)
USA Softball Rule references:
7.6.S. “The batter is out when actively hindering the catcher while in the batter’s box.”
[“Actively hindering” has been defined as any movement by the batter while in the box when the catcher is trying to make a play. (i.e., throw or catch.) David comment.]
Rule 1, “Interference: The act of an offensive player or team member…that impedes, hinders, or confuses a defensive player attempting to execute a play. Contact is not necessary.”
Rule Supplement #33, “Defensive players must be given the opportunity to field the ball anywhere on the playing field or throw the ball without being hindered.”
Rule Supplement #33B, “The batter’s box is not a sanctuary for the batter when a play is being made at the plate.”
Rule 8.2.F, “The batter-runner is out when the BR interferes with a fielder attempting to field a batted ball.”
Rule 7.6.R. “The batter is out when hindering the catcher from catching or throwing the ball by stepping out of the batter’s box.”
Rule 8.2.F.4 “The batter-runner is out when the BR interferes by making contact with a fair batted ball before reaching first base.”
Rule Supplement #33A.2, “Runner interference includes a runner or batter-runner who is hit by a fair touched or untouched batted ball.”
How about a foul untouched ball?
Let’s change the play a little: batter hits a pop up along the first base line and begins running to 1B. He is running in foul territory. The ball comes down and hits him on the head. His head is in foul territory. If no defensive player has a play on the ball, then it is just a foul ball. But if any defensive player has a chance to make an out on this play, it would be interference and the BR is out.  [David interpretation]
SSUSA rule book: Rule 1. 45 Interference- “A base runner must avoid a fielder making a play.” [Once a batter hits the ball, he is a runner; technically a ‘batter-runner.’]
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
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Special Olympics
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July 8, 2021

Hi, Bill,

Thanks for the question.

Of course, USA Softball does not use the courtesy foul.

But I have done lots of Special Olympics, which does use it.

Also, I have umpired in some leagues and tournaments that use it.

Here is my usual, long-winded answer. 



USA Softball did a study of pitches taken versus pitches swung at, during 

numerous tournaments. The study found that 80% of first pitches were NOT swung at. So, the next year, they implemented the 1-and-1 beginning count to speed up the game. Most softball games have a time limit.


(The same philosophy was used in writing the so-called “hit and sit” rule. In USAS play, on an over-the-fence home run or a four-base award, the batter nor the runners have to run the bases. They all simply go to the dugout. The batter “hits and then sits.” This speeds up the game, giving more playing time to the participants. Don’t get me started on MSCSA pitchers taking two, three, four minutes to “warm up.”)   : )



The courtesy foul is a concession to the batter after his three strikes were taken away with the 1 and 1 count. 



This rule is only in effect when the batter already has two strikes.

When the batter has two strikes, the next pitch can result in  5  things (I can only think of 5 off hand, anyway):

  1. ball four, base on balls
  2. pitch hits the strike mat, strike 3, batter is out.
  3. batter swings and misses, strike 3, batter is out.
  4. batter hits the ball fair
  5. batter hits the ball foul, and it is not caught on the fly for an out.


In the first four examples, the batter of course gets no more pitches.

But in #5, the batter is not out and gets ONE more pitch.


For clarification: if the batter has only ONE strike and hits a foul ball, this in NOT his courtesy foul. He now has two strikes and the courtesy foul rule is in effect.



When the batter reaches two strikes, some umpires will announce: “Two balls, two strikes, still got a courtesy,” or similar.


Then, if the batter hits a foul ball that is not caught, some umpires will announce “Two balls, two strikes, courtesy gone/used,” or something to that effect.


I think the 1-and-1 count is a great rule. 

1.It speeds up the game. 

2.The offense and defense are still balanced, especially with the 

     courtesy foul.  

3.It makes it a little easier on the umpires. 

4.When there is less time for fielders to wait until the ball is hit, 

     they stay more alert and in the game. 

5.Same for the fans. 

6.Pitchers have to throw a lot less pitches during the game. 

7.There is more playing time/action.

How is it working with NO infield fly?


Keep those questions coming! See you in the playoffs.



Denton, Texas

USA Softball

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Special Olympics

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June 24, 2021

QUESTION. When an errant throw to first goes in the dugout, does the Batter-runner get second base?

ANSWER. Second base, and sometimes third base

THROWN BALL-the award is two bases

Batter-runners and runners are always awarded two bases from the time of the throw. In almost all cases, the batter-runner has NOT achieved first base at the time of the throw. So, he is awarded first base and second base. (He still is required to touch first base.)

In a small minority of plays, the batter-runner has ALREADY achieved first base at the time of the throw. In this case, the BR is awarded second and third.

Remember, it is not at the time the ball goes in the dugout, but the time of the throw.



Example. R1 (Runner at first) goes to second on a base hit to right field.

By the time F10 throws the ball, R1 is already at 2B. The ball gets by F4, the second baseman) and rolls into the 3rd base dugout. The runner at second is awarded third base and home. If the BR has already achieved 1B, he is awarded second and third.

USA softball rules use the terminology “blocked ball.” This is a batted, pitched or thrown ball that is touched, stopped or handled by a person no engaged in the game… This includes a ball that goes in the dugout, over the fence, or is touched/picked up by a bat boy, coach or on-deck batter.

Actual examples I had in a game. 

  1. Grounder to infielder. Throw to first is way off line. On-deck batter sticks his bat out and hits the ball to stop it.

Ruling. Blocked ball. Interference. Batter-runner is out.

Same play as above. As ball rolls toward dugout door, bat boy picks it up. Same ruling.

  1. BR reaches 1B before F6 can throw it. But F6 is frustrated and accidently heaves the ball over F3’s head and over the fence. Umpire tells the BR “You are awarded second base and third base.” BR runs directly to 3B without touching 2B. Defense appeals missing 2B. Runner is called out.

BATTED BALL- the award is one base.

  1. Long fly ball down left field line. F7 makes a great catch but his momentum carries him into dead ball territory, such as through a gate or past a dead ball line. Ruling: blocked ball/dead ball. BR is out. 


  1. F1 tries to go from 1B to 3B on a base hit to the outfield. The ball is thrown to 3B and F5 tries to make a tag, but loses possession of the ball, which becomes blocked (such as goes in the dugout). All runners are awarded one base from where they were at the time the ball becomes blocked. 

Hope this helps. Keep those questions coming.

Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics

Shine as one. Be a volunteer.

April 7, 2021
If a player while in the box makes contact with the ball & one foot steps out of the batters box . Out or dead ball?
Coach Bob
Desoto Dukes
Hi, Bob,

Thanks for the question.

You asked If a player while in the box makes contact with the ball & one foot steps out of the batters box is the batter out?

Looking at your question literally, it says the batter makes contact with the ball THEN steps on the plate. In that case there is no violation and no penalty. 
Two examples: 
1. The batter hits the ball, then afterwards, his momentum carries his foot onto part of the plate.
2. The batter hits the ball, then as he begins running toward first base, he steps on part of the plate.
But I think what you meant was, when the batter makes contact with the ball AT THE SAME TIME his foot is out of the box? If that is so, here is my answer:
If either of the batter’s feet are completely out of the box (the whole foot) when contact with the ball is made (fair or foul), the ball is dead and the batter is out.
If a foot is partially out of the box but is also touching the plate and contact is made, dead ball, batter out.
While the pitch is in flight, if the batter steps out of the box and then back into the box and makes contact with the ball. Dead ball, batter out.
If there is no batter’s box, “good judgement should be used and the benefit of the doubt should go to the batter.”
In SSUSA, “The batter is out when any part of a foot is touching the strike mat when he hits a ball fair or foul.”
In both codes, the ball is dead, the batter is out, and any runners must return to the base legally occupied at the time of the pitch.
Rule references:
USAS: rule 7.6 F-H and Rule Supplement 7
SSUSA: Rule 7.6 C-D

Hope this helps.

Denton, Texas
USA Softball
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Special Olympics
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Question:  Is there a rule for interference at the base running ?February 25, 2021

This new rule is essentially the same as the USAS rule.

First, NCAA changed it, then USAS changed theirs.
The rule used to be that you could block the base if you had possession of the ball, OR
if you were about to gain possession of the ball. 
The “about’ part was the problem.
In the USAS rule book, 2020, page 139 is a good explanation. “It is obstruction if a defensive player is blocking the base or base path without the ball and the runner or batter-runner is impeded. In past years, coaches taught their players to block the base, catch the ball and make the tag. Now defensive players must catch the ball, block the base and then make the tag.”
And the definition of obstruction includes the words “hinder or impede” and “contact is not necessary.”
Now, you must have possession of the ball to block the base.
If the defensive player does not have possession of the ball, he is guilty of obstruction. 
I have several slides in my power point regarding this.
See below. I know we don’t slide, but I think they illustrate the concept well of

“possession of the ball” and “not have possession of the ball.”

obst 2.jpg

 Assuming this 3rd baseman has the ball in her glove, she is legally blocking third base.

obst 5.jpg

 This catcher has the ball, so she can legally block HP.

obst 6.jpg

 This is almost certainly obstruction, because the 3rd baseman does not have the ball, and she is blocking the base.

obst 8.jpg

 This is probably obstruction because the defensive player does not have the ball and she is in the path of the runner.


 Blocking the base is legal if you have the ball. The runner is diving back to third on an attempted pickoff play in FP.

obst 3.jpg

 Blocking the base, but doesn’t have the ball= obstruction.

Hope this helps.
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
How can I help you with your officiating goals?
Special Olympics
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October 15, 2020
Question:  What is the difference between an illegal player and an ineligible player?
ILLEGAL PLAYER When a player has been in the game and then removed from the game by the umpire for rule violations. Also called “disqualification.” Some examples:
1.    A pitcher who returns to pitch after being removed from the pitching position by the umpire
2.    A starting player who re-enters the game a second time after being substituted for twice
3.    A starting player returns to the game, but is not in their original position in the line-up
4.    A substitute returns to the game a second time after being replaced twice.
INELIGIBLE PLAYER When a player is not eligible or no longer eligible to play in that particular game.
1.    A player that has been ejected for any reason. There are 15 violations in the USAS rule book that result in ejection (a few examples: argue balls and strikes, use of altered or non-approved bat, flagrant crashes, attacking an umpire)
2.    A player that has been disqualified for any reason
3.    A player that is not on the roster, or did not meet the deadline for being on the roster
4.    A player who is not eligible to be on the roster due to some other reason. Some examples:
a.    age (45-year-old cannot play senior)
b.    residence (all players may be required to be from a certain geographical area)
c.    gender (women under 40 yrs of age cannot play on mscsa teams)
d.    amateur (cannot be paid to play)
David Martin compilation and interpretation 10-15-20                
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics

Question from Frank Roszell:                                                                                                   October 15, 2020
Pitcher places right foot on plate. Left foot parallel but not touching plate about inch away from the left edge if the plate. Pitcher steps with the right foot and delvers the pitch with one step of the right foot.

In this case the right foot is the pivot foot. Pitcher cannot step with the pivot foot. That’s why it is called the pivot foot.

One foot must be in contact with the plate when the ball is released.
USAS wording “The pivot foot shall remain in contact with the pitcher’s plate until the pitched ball leaves the hand.”

Glad to help.

Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics

Good morning Mr. Martin. This is Alan Jensen from the NRH hawks.                                                                           Uploaded Oct 1, 2020
My question is there such a thing as a batter being out of the box  when the pitcher
Releases the ball since we don’t have the box actually outlined and if so what would the call be. The other team says there is no box and I disagree.
Thank you sir.

Hi, Alan

Thanks for the question.
There is always a batter’s box.
Just because there are no lines does not mean there is not a box.
(If there was no foul line drawn between home and first base, would there be no fair or foul?)
The box is 6 inches back from the plate, 4 feet forward and 3 feet back.
Umpire mechanics dictate that the PU will hold up the pitcher until the batter is ready and in the box. Discretion must be given when there is no box drawn.
But if the umpire is SURE a foot is even partially out of the box, he should instruct the batter to step in the box.
If the batter complains there is no box, the umpire should say, move closer to the plate and I will tell you when you are good.
The batter now has ten seconds to get completely into the box. Failure to do so, will result in the umpire calling a strike on the batter. When he does step in, the PU should say thanks, now let’s play.
Prior to the pitch, both feet must be completely within the confines of the box.
When the ball is hit both feet must be at least partially within the confines of the box.
When the ball is hit, fair or foul, and the batters foot is completely outside the box OR on the plate, the umpire shall call dead ball, batter’s out. 
The PU must take charge and control the pace of the game. Hold up the pitcher until everyone is ready. Instruct the pitcher when he can pitch, etc.

Hope this helps. Keep those questions coming. 

Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics

Someone sent me a text or an email with a rules question, and I can’t find it,                                                      Uploaded Sept 17, 2020   so I don’t know who it was.  It has been several days now.  

I apologize for the delayed response.


The question, as I remember, went like this:
Ground ball to shortstop, ball thrown to first base. F3 keeps foot on white bag but part of his upper body is over the safety bag. Ball beats runner, runner and F3 collide, runner falls down.
Umpire called the runner out, I believe. 
Interference? Obstruction? Nothing?
Assuming neither player did not make the contact intentionally….
If the collision occurred BEFORE the runner reached 1B, it could be obstruction by F3.
If the collision occurred because the runner stepped on the white bag, it could be interference.
Since F3 made the play, there was no interference by the runner.
So, therefore:
I would judge this to be “incidental contact,” sometimes called a “train wreck” or a “collision.”
Runner is out, since the ball beat him to the bag and because the crash/collision was incidental, there are no penalties.
Hope his is helpful.


Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics


Question from Bill Geiger (Haltom City Bearcats)                                                                                          Uploaded September 2, 2020

Afternoon Mr. Martin,need an interpretation,batter hits ball down the the base line,3rd base ump/base coach calls the ball fair,opposing team protests,home plate umpire then calls the ball foul. Question being can you even protest foul ball calls,and who makes the call? This particular hit touched the ground beyond 3rd base.  Thank Ya Sir. Appreciate all this.

Hi, Bill

Thanks for the question.
It seems like a three-part question.
1. Fair and foul. When a batted ball hits the ground before the bag and then any part of the ball passes over any part of the bag–  it is a FAIR ball. [doesn’t matter which side of the line it hits AFTER passing the bag.]
2. Who’s call is it? My opinion is that the home plate umpire has all fair and foul calls. Obviously he has the best view/angle. The base coaches umpire duties are for tags and time plays on the bases. This is not to say that the plate umpire can’t ask for help or a “second opinion” from the base coach. For example, if the plate umpire was visually blocked out. But this should be extremely rare. [Even in state and national tournaments, when we use 3 or more umpires, the umpire at third base only has fair/foul if he turns his back on the plate umpire because it is a long fly ball close to the base line.]
3. Can you protest a fair/foul call? The rule book specifically says that protests cannot be made for JUDGMENT calls. This is not to say that the coach can’t ask an umpire for a “second opinion.” [“Hey, ump. Can you get some help on that?” If asked in a nice way and the coach has not been a jerk all game, we say the umpire should go talk to the other ‘umpire’ in private and get the call right.]
Hope this helps and keep those questions coming.
Below is a little essay I wrote a few years back that we give to all our umpires in Denton.
By David Martin
If we call a player “out” and he says he wants a second opinion, we can’t reply “OK, you’re out and you’re ugly, too.” (This was the title of MLB umpire Durwood Merrill’s book.)
We have to get the call right. Anytime you are not sure of a ruling, get with your partner to discuss it. Keep all coaches and ballplayers away so they cannot hear the discussion. Speak softly and
respectfully to your partner. Listen to his/her comments. Your partner is the only friend
you have on the field. You should cooperate, respect and help each other at all times.
How to handle a request for a second opinion
The player or coach is NOT going to say “Excuse me, Mr. Umpire, sir, but could you possibly check with the other umpire to see if they had a better angle?” No, they are going to say something more like: “Can you get some help?” or “Come on. You can’t be serious,” or “Would you ask your partner what he saw?” or “I want to appeal/protest to the other umpire.” (This is not an appeal nor protest by rule, but the coach may use this term.)
Example: You, the BU calls the BR out at first base. The coach complains that F3’s foot was not on the bag. Now, you have two options of what to do. The first is to stay with your call. You can respond to the coach with something like “Coach, I had a good view and a good angle. His foot was on the bag the whole time.” or “Coach, his foot was on the bag at the time he caught the ball, and then his foot came off.”
Your second choice is to be a nice guy and check with your partner. You can respond to the coach with something like: “I’ll check with my partner” or “OK. I’ll ask what he saw.”
Get together with your partner. Take your time. You should ask your partner what he saw. If the PU says he is sure the foot was pulled, then you have received more information. You should then turn to the runner at 1B and make the safe signal. Remember, you have not “changed your call,” you have “received more information.”
If the PU is NOT sure the foot was pulled, then you should turn toward 1B and reiterate the out signal. Get the call right. Then announce it for all to hear. This also goes for a swipe tag, or a player missing the bag or using the wrong bag. Of course, a request for a second opinion on a judgment call [out/safe] is not honored.
How to handle an angry coach
A coach who has been complaining/whining the whole game will probably be
treated differently than the coach who believes a major call went unfairly against his
team and wants to let the umpire know this. In other words, the amount of time the umpire
listens to a coach is inversely proportional to the amount of complaining he/she has done.
When talking to a coach, it should be one on one. One umpire and one
coach. If necessary, the second umpire should help keep the other coaches/players away.
Let the coach state his case. Answer questions. Validate. (“OK, I hear what
you’re saying.”) Stay calm. Be a model for calmness. Do not threaten. Do not raise your voice. Watch your body language. Put your hands behind your back or at your side. Turn your body so you are shoulder to shoulder, not face to face. You may want to ask the coach “What did you see?” Then, you can say “Here is what I saw.” When the coach starts repeating himself or disrespecting the umpire, the conversation is over. You should say “Coach, you’ve had your say, now let’s play ball.”
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics



We had another question about a play today.                                                                                                  Uploaded August 27, 2020

The batter hit a little pop up between the pitchers rubber and the 3rd base line.  The batter started to first and the catcher started toward the ball and they collided right at the plate and the catcher goes down and the batter continues to first base.  The other team said it was runners interference I said the runner has the right to go to first base as long as he didn’t intentionally interfere. I also think it would have been catchers interference if the runner had not made it.  By the way there heads collided and the catchers was briefly knocked out. 
Thanks again
Brad Swann 

Hi, Brad,

Thanks for the question.
This can be a tricky one and I have heard it discussed in many umpire training sessions, schools, and classes.
The NCAA rule states that neither interference or obstruction is sometimes the decision.
NCAA 12.2:
“Note: If both players’ actions are appropriate to the situation and contact could
not be avoided, it is inadvertent contact and neither interference nor obstruction.”
The USA Softball manual agrees.
The USAS umpire manual, page 65, states “Contact between defensive and offensive players does not necessarily mean that obstruction or interference occurred….Consider the following:
1. Did the offensive player alter their direction in a way to draw contact with the defensive player….?”
2. Did the defensive player alter their attempt to field the ball to draw an interference call?
3. Could the defensive player actually make a play?
4. Did the defensive player have possession of the ball?
As you described the play, I think you have what umpires call a “train wreck.”
So, probably ‘inadvertent contact,” a “train wreck,” or “no call.”
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics

David we had a situation come up on our game today                                                                                  Uploaded August 25, 2020

The other pitcher had taken a couple of warm up pitches.   Our batter gets in the batters box and the and the pitcher pitches the ball.  The batter hits a triple but the pitcher says he gets three warm up pitches an argument issued and my contention is that when a batter gets in the batters box and the pitcher pitches to him that is a live ball whether he took 3 pitches or not. I know pitchers don’t have to take 3 pitches and they have 1 min or five pitches.  But if he pitches to a batter who was in the box I believe it is a live ball.  
Thanks Brad  

Hi, Brad

Thanks for the question.
By rule …’not more than one minute may be used to deliver not more than three warm-up pitches.”
In regular softball, “play is suspended” while the pitcher takes his 3 pitches. 
And the ball is live only when the umpire indicates to the pitcher to play.
In this case:

Was the umpire in his usual position?

Was the catcher in his position?
Were the infielders’ warm-up balls already thrown in?
If the answers to these questions are all “yes,” then I would be inclined to say “Live ball.”
If the pitcher wanted his third warmup, he should have alerted the umpire and/or batter, so the batter would step out of the box. 
The umpire can put the ball in play before 3 warmups if he thinks the pitcher has taken more than one minute, also.  
Hope this helps.
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics


Jim Gibbons asked,                                                                                                                                                          Uploaded Aug 11, 2020

How far can a runner be out of the baseline to avoid a tag from a defensive player?

CASE PLAY: fielder tries to tag the runner, but the runner avoids the tag by sidestepping or going around the fielder.
BASELINE: An imaginary line directly between bases.
BASEPATH: A line directly between a base and the runner’s position at the time a defensive player is
attempting to tag that runner.
“Hey, blue. He was out of the baseline!” This is incorrect. A runner can run just about anywhere he wants to run. He can run way past a base, out into the grass or further. The only exception is when a defensive player is trying to tag him.
A runner generally does not run in a straight line between the bases, but rather more like an arc or curved line. This is the runner’s base PATH.
Once a defensive player has the ball and is attempting a tag, the runner must now run DIRECTLY to a base. (Either the base he is going to or the base he came from.)
So, when a runner avoids a tag by running more than three feet from his base PATH, he is OUT by rule.
RULE 8.7.A….” The runner is out when running to any base in regular or reverse order and the runner runs more than three feet from the base path to avoid being touched by the ball in the hand or glove of a fielder.”
What is three feet? It is as far as the fielder can reach on either side of his body.
So, if the fielder reaches as far as he can and is not able to tag the runner, the runner is “out of the base path.”
Now for the tricky part.  If the defensive player with the ball is NOT between the runner and the base and reaches out as far as he can, the runner is not out, because he stayed in his base path.
Here are a couple of photos you may be able to use.
Both show a defensive player reaching as far as they can to tag a runner.
In most cases like this, the runner is going to be called out for being out of the base path.
Ball remains alive.
David Martin, 8-11-20
Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics


Hi, Sam.                                                                                                                                                                                      Uploaded July 27, 2020

Thanks for the question.
Yes, we have had similar questions in the past, so you are not the first to wonder about this.
First, I will answer the easy part of your question: You asked:
“If the ball arrives at that base that he is retreating to does he have to be tagged or by the fact that the Fielder is standing on that base with the ball constitute a force out?”
Yes, the runner would be out if the ball is caught by the fielder before the runner touches the base. Many call this a “force” out, but by rule, it is a “time play” out. In other words, which thing happened FIRST in time, ball caught by fielder OR runner touches base?
Also, the fielder may tag the runner before he reaches 1B, in which case he would also be out.
Now, for the second part of your question. You asked:
…does the retreating runner have to run past or step on the bag?”
The retreating runner must step on the bag. The 3-foot lines at second and third are only for advancing runners to use. You are correct, the 3-foot lines do not exist for a retreating runner.
So the retreating runner must step on the bag prior to the ball being caught by the fielder at that base. Also, our rules allow a retreating runner to dive or slide back into a base.
I hope this clears up any confusion regarding this rule. If not, please email me back again and I will take another stab at it.

Keep those questions coming.

Denton, Texas
USA Softball
Special Olympics

Hi, again Brad                                                                                                                                                                                      Uploaded June 25, 2020
Thanks for the questions:
Here are my opinions and rule references from the MSCSA rules listed online. 
If a runner is coming from second heading to third and is being waved to go home but a throw comes in from the rover and hits the runner as he gets to third does he have the right to the base so he can advance. He did not run to the lines because he was was being waived around. 
D. Runner to Second or Third Base: In the Senior Men 65+ Division, at second and third base, the runner must run to the side of the base away from the direction of the incoming ball or the defensive play, unless they are trying to continue on to the next base.
DM: the runner would not be out in the play you described because he was trying to “continue” to the next base. He could only be called out if he intentionally interfered by moving into the path of the ball. 
The second question is if a pitcher has a one foot on the rubber and one about a step off the rubber in front of it then steps with the foot on the rubber no longer in contact with it then releases the ball is that an illegal pitch. In essence he has taken two steps to the plate then releases the ball. 

C. Pitching:  The pitcher may take no more than one step prior to delivering the ball. Before releasing the ball, the pitcher will become set (complete stop) for one (1) second and then release the ball within ten seconds. The pitcher must have one foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate when he starts his pitch.

DM: the pivot foot is the foot that is on the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher can take ONE step with the non-pivot foot as long as the step is simultaneous with the release of the pitch. The step can be forward, backward, or to the side. Also, he is not required to take a step. When a pitcher makes an illegal pitch, the umpire should call “illegal pitch” as soon as it becomes illegal.That is so the batter will know as soon as possible.
Keep those questions coming. 
David Martin
Denton, Texas
42-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 41 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite

Uploaded February 6, 2020
Frank Rozelle Asks:
Pitching. Is there any rule that prohibits  a pitcher from wearing  a glove on his pitching hand? A glove like a wide receiver might use on a football team for example to improve the grip on the ball.
Hey, Frank
Thanks for the question.
Can a pitcher wear a glove on the pitching hand?
Rule 6c. Section 5 “Batting gloves shall not be worn on the pitching hand.”
Tape on the fingers IS allowed.
David Martin
Denton, Texas
42-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 41 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite

                                                                                                                                                                                      Uploaded Jan 30, 2020
(a.k.a., the safety base)
            USA Softball has provided a double base at first to try to prevent collisions between the batter-runner and the first baseman (or whatever defensive player is covering first base). Some players and even some umpires seem to be confused about the rule. There is no “Rule Supplement” for the double base, so part of the following is an interpretation.
Situation #1
            When there is a play on the batter-runner (BR) at first base, the BR must touch the safety bag (of contrasting color) and the defensive player must touch the white bag.
There are two exceptions to this part of the rule:
A. When there is a throw from foul territory, the BR and the defensive player may use      either bag.
B. When an “errant throw” pulls the defensive player off the base into foul ground, the
             BR and the defensive player may use either bag.
Situation #2
            When there is no play on the BR at first base, for example a base hit to the outfield, the BR may touch either bag.
Situation #3
            Once the BR has passed first base, the BR may return to either bag, may stand on either bag until the ball is hit by the next batter (FP pitched), and may use either bag to tag up on a fly ball. In other words, once the BR passes first base, the double bag becomes “one big bag.”
NOTE #1: The defense can also use the one big bag when attempting to retire a runner who left too soon on a fly ball or line drive (a time play).
NOTE #2: There is nothing in the above or in the rule, which says a BR must touch the white bag at any time.


David Martin
Denton, Texas
42-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 41 years

Uploaded Sept 12, 2019
Question:  Afternoon Sir, today’s game we had a man on first base, batter hits line drive down first base line, hits runner while he is standing on the bag. Opposing team claimed runner on first base was out, I maintained he was safe, checked the rule book and I think it says I was right. Looking for your interpretation?   Thank Ya Sir.
Hey, Bill
Thanks for the question.
A runner who is in contact with a base is not out when hit by a batted ball.
(the only exception is if he intentionally tried to get hit.)
The umpire has to decide two things:
1. is it a live ball or a dead ball?
2. is it a fair ball or a foul ball? 
Number one depends upon where the nearest defensive player is standing.
Since in slow pitch, virtually all defenders are behind the base, then the ball would be dead.
The umpire should throw his hands in the air and declare “DEAD BALL.” Then he should award the batter first base.
Runners only advance if forced.
USA SB Rule Supplement #44
Number two depends upon where the ball made contact with the runner. For example, if his/her right leg is in foul territory and the batted ball hits that leg, it is just a foul ball.
Optional reading:
In fast pitch, the closest defender is almost always in FRONT of the base (but it is possible in SP). In this case if a runner on base is hit by a batted ball, the ball is live. The runner is NOT out and may run at his/her own risk.

Question: How many steps can the pitcher take before releasing the ball?                                               Uploaded Aug 22, 2019
When I played, I noticed at least 3 pitchers in our league who violated the pitching rule almost every pitch.
One pitcher took a step backward, then a step forward. This is more than one step and is illegal.
One pitcher took two or three steps before reaching the pitcher’s plate, then released the ball without stopping.
       This is called walking the plate or walking the rubber, and is illegal.
One pitcher would stop on the pitcher’s plate, then take two steps forward before the release. This is more than
      one step and is illegal.
MSCSA rules and USA SB rules are consistent and clear.
The pitcher must come to a complete STOP on the pitcher’s plate, then he may take NO MORE than one step (forward or backward).
If the pitcher chooses to pitch from somewhere behind the pitcher’s plate, he still must adhere to the above rule.
The spot he picks is HIS pitcher’s plate.
USA SB rule 6C, Section 1.C and Section 3.E
MSCSA Rule 6, Section C
I hope this helps.
David Martin
Denton, Texas
42-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

Bill, thanks for the question.                                                                                                                                                                  Updated Aug 1, 2019
It is a good one.
I have been guilty once or twice of forgetting I have a runner, and taking off toward first base when I hit the ball.
Our league uses SSUSA rules with some USA SB rules mixed in.
NEITHER SSUSA nor USA Softball have a rule regarding this because they don’t allow CR from home plate. 
Indeed, I have never seen a CR from home in any league except MSCSA. SPA does not allow it. Maybe You Trip does?
The batter must achieve 1B on his own.
SSUSA specifically addresses this in “Rule 8.4(1) The batter must reach first base without the aid of a courtesy runner.”
It is not mentioned in the USA SB rule book, but it is understood that a CR is only used after the Batter reaches base.
This was sent to us early this year by the USA SB Director of Umpires:
If the batter gets a base on balls, he must touch 1B, before the CR takes over.
If the CR touches 1B before the batter, the batter is called out.
There was no mention of a CR from home.
So, we have to extrapolate our rules to cover this, based on common sense and similar rules.
My suggestion would be: If the batter runs toward 1B simultaneously with his CR and interferes in any way with the catch of the batted ball, the throw of the ball, or the catch by the first baseman, he shall be called out for interference. Contact does not have to be made.
The umpire should declare “Dead Ball. Interference. Batter is out”
If the umpire does not see any interference, then the umpire should give a warning to the offensive coach.
Interference includes impeding, hindering or confusing the defense.
The Board may wish to add this to the rules.
Hope this helps.

The question is “When can a runner leave his base?”                                                                                                         Updated Aug 1, 2019
In baseball, as you know, runners can “lead off.”
But they are in jeopardy of being thrown out by the pitcher if they stray too far.
And bases are 90 feet apart.
When softball was invented, bases were set at only 50 feet.
So the rule makers established the rule that runners may not leave until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.
This was of course, fast pitch softball.
When slow pitch was introduced, the rule was made that a runner may not leave the base until the ball “is hit.”
When SP stealing came into the mix, additional wording was added.
Here is the complete rule: 8.7.R (slow pitch) “The runner is out when he fails to keep contact with the base to which they are entitled until a pitched ball is batted, touches the ground, or reaches home plate.
EFFECT: the ball is dead, ‘No pitch” is declared, and the runner is out.
USA SB rulebook 2019, page 102
Umpires are taught to imagine an invisible plane at the front edge of home plate. This defines “reaches.”
As soon as the pitched ball reaches this plane, the runner may leave their base.
If the runner leaves before that, whether stepping off or running, whether intentional or not, the ball is dead and the runner is out. Letting the runner leave before that would give them an advantage, whether to avoid being put out at the next base or by scoring.
So, the rule is NOT ‘when the ball is hit” but includes other criteria (reaches home plate, hits the ground, etc.) 
In one of my previous responses, I did not include “reaches home plate” because the question was about when the ball was hit. 
I also did not include the phrase “or touches the batter” which is also true, because the pitch would have already “reached home plate,” (in most cases) if it hits the batter. 
If the batter swings and misses, the runner is legal to step off the base, since the ball has reached home plate.
No need to change the rule. And I don’t think the two statements were contradictory. I was just emphasizing different things. I hope this clears it up.
The answer, as always, is more awareness. 
For example, encouraging all the players to read the rules, especially those who serve as umpires. 
Thanks again and let me know if you have further questions about this. 

Hi David,                                                                                                                                                                              Updated July 22, 2019
I am the coach of the Richardson Roadrunners.  Last week, we had some “disagreement” between my team and the Mesquite Texans over infield fly rule issues.  It seems this never ends!
So, if you can educate me on the following, it would be appreciated.
  1. Plate umpire calls infield fly; the ball drops on the ground and due to the runners not hearing the umpire’s call, the runner from second starts to go to third.  The third baseman gets the ball and steps on third saying the runner is out because he is forced.  We argued once the infield fly is called and the batter is out, if the runner tries to advance he must be tagged out as the force is off.  What is correct? Must be tagged. The force has been removed when the umpire declares  “Infield Fly, Batter’s Out.” Now if the ball is caught, and the runner is off base, the ball could be thrown to that base and if the throw beats the runner back, he is out. Technically, this is not a “force” but a “time play.”
  2. While all the above was happening, the runner on first started toward second and after the third baseman stepped on his base he threw to second to get the runner there.  Again, the runner was not tagged and was called out because they said it was a force (same as the above).  What is correct? Must be tagged. Same as above.
  3. Is the rover considered an infielder or outfielder?  If he is playing on the grass between short and second and a popup is hit to him, can the infield fly rule be called? This is an excellent question I have not heard before: is the rover an infielder or an outfielder? We have to go to Rule One: Definitions to help us with the answer: “An infielder is a fielder who defends the area of the field around first, second, third or shortstop areas.”  p. 22 My interpretation of the rule would have to be that if the rover is close enough to the infield that he can catch fly balls that can also be caught by the infielders, then he is an infielder. If he is playing deeper than that , he is an outfielder. Grass and dirt have nothing to do with the infield fly. The criterion is: can the ball be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder? For example, if the ball CAN be caught with ordinary effort by the shortstop, it is an infield fly, even if the ball is caught by the third baseman, the pitcher, the rover or even an outfielder. 
  4. A ball is hit high in the air, the shortstop turns with his back to home plate to try and catch it and it drops to the grass between him and the left center fielder, maybe ten feet behind the dirt part of the infield.  The home plate umpire called infield fly—was that a correct call? It is a judgement call. The umpire should declare an infield fly if the ball can be caught with ORDINARY effort by an infielder. The way you have described the play, it seems the shortstop would have needed EXTRA-ordinary effort to catch that ball.
I presented a power point to the coaches last year on this topic. I would be glad to come in and do it again, concentrating on the IFF.
Or I could send the ppt to Tom who could show it to all the coaches.
Thanks again for the question and keep them coming

CASE PLAY RUN SCORES/DOES NOT SCORE                                                                                                             Updated July 18, 2019
One out in the top of the 7th inning. R1 at 3B, R2 at 2B and R3 at 1B. A ground ball was hit to F5 and he threw to F4 who was coming to 2B in hopes of turning a double play. R2 who was originally on 2B started toward 3B but abruptly changed his mind and returned toward 2B. F4 tagged R2, then stepped on 2B to get the force out on R3 coming from 1B. That made three outs and ended the game. 
The offensive coach protested that while the play in question was taking place, R1 from 3B made the tying run and that the run should count since it scored before the final out was recorded. (R3 forced out at 2B)
A run cannot score if the third out is the result of a force out.
In this situation, the bases were loaded. The second out was a tag out and the third out was a force out. (Even if F4 had tagged R3, it would be considered a force out.)
So, it doesn’t matter when the runner from third crossed the plate/scoring line.
USA Softball Rule 5.5.B.1 states “No run shall be scored if the third out of the inning is the result of …a runner forced out due to the batter becoming a batter-runner.” p. 55
If the bases are NOT loaded: for example, R2 at 2B and R1 at 3B. Ground ball is hit to an infielder who throws to 3B to get R2. If R1 crosses the scoring line before the runner from 2B is tagged, the run would count.
Two outs. Runner at 2B only. Batter hits what he thinks is a double, but is tagged out on a close play at 2B. Now, it is important for the umpire to be in position to determine which happened first in time: the tag at second base OR the runner from 2B crossing the scoring line. If the runner touches the plate/crosses scoring line before the tag at 2B, the run would count.
F4 steps on 2B for the force on R3, but is not able to tag R2 who came back to 2B. F4 then tags R2 who is now standing on 2B. R2 is not out because the force was taken off when F4 stepped on 2B. R2 is entitled to the base.

David Martin 7-18-19

CASE PLAY BATTER SWITCHES BOXES                                                                                                                                 Updated June 20, 2019
B1 starts in the left-handed batter’s box, then at some point switches to the right-handed box.
Is this legal?
Rule 7.3.E “The batter shall not step directly in front of the catcher to the other batter’s box while the pitcher (SP) is in position to pitch or anytime thereafter prior to the release of the ball. EFFECT: 1. ball is dead, 2. the batter is out, and 3. runners may not advance.”
The batter MAY switch boxes, if one of the following is true:
1.     He asked for “time” and is granted time
2.     He switched before the pitcher “toes the pitcher’s plate”  (In senior play, where the pitcher can pitch from behind the pitcher’s plate, the umpire will have to decide if the pitcher is “in position to pitch.”)
If the pitcher has his foot on the pitcher’s plate (“in position to pitch”) and the batters leaves one box and enters the other one, he is OUT.
Personal note: in my 40 years of umpiring, I had this situation ONE time, and I called the batter out. Much, much more common is the batter who wants to stand outside the box and has to be coaxed, cajoled and threatened to get inside.
David Martin 6-20-19
David Martin
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

CASE PLAY THROWN BALL HITS BAT                                                                                                                                     Updated June 20, 2019
R1 on 2B. B2 hits a base hit to the outfield and discards his bat legally, which rolls into fair territory. F9 throws the ball home in an attempt to put R1 out. The throw strikes the bat causing the ball to carom away from F2 and making it unable to make the play at home.
Rule 8.5.G Exception 3 “If the ball becomes blocked due to offensive equipment NOT involved in the game….   This rule does not apply, since the bat was offensive equipment that WAS involved in the game. 
So there is no interference, no penalty, live ball.


David Martin
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

Question Regarding Fair or Foul                                                                                                                                         Updated May 29, 2019
Question:  Batter has two strikes and hits a foul ball close to the right field foul line, The right fielder with one foot  still in fair territory reaches over the foul line and touches the fly ball but does not make the catch.
The call made was that it was a foul ball and the batter was out as it was a third strike foul.
Was the right call made?
Thanks for the question.
The right call was made!
The placement of the foot or any part of the fielder’s body has no bearing on whether a ball is foul or fair.
Where was the ball in relation to the line? (using the “imaginary plane” idea)
Judging a ball fair or foul AFTER passing first or third base depends on:
1. Where the ball first touched the ground, OR
2. Where the ball was first touched by a fielder.
If the batted ball first touched the ground in FAIR territory, OR was first touched in FAIR territory, it does not matter where the ball goes after that. It remains a FAIR ball. 
This can be found on P. 21 of the rulebook. “Rule 1: Definitions: Fair Ball, Section F–A fair ball is a legally batted ball that first falls or is first touched on or over fair territory beyond first, second, or third base.”
At the risk of giving more information than you want, which I sometimes do (Sorry):
Umpires are taught to give such batted balls “Status.” Ball status is a mechanic the umpire uses to signal the location of a batted ball in flight near a foul line when first touched by a fielder. As soon as the ball is touched, the umpire “gives the ball status” or fair or foul, by giving a quick point fair or foul. Then he will give another signal depending on what happens: “Out,” “Foul Ball,” “No catch,” or “Fair.”
The “Imaginary plane” is used by umpires in several cases:
1. When a pitch reaches the front of the plate, runners may leave their base.
2. When a runner is struck by a thrown ball the last half of the way to first, (3-ft. running lane)
3. When a ball is touched close to a foul line, whether before the bags or beyond the bags. 
Keep those questions coming!


David Martin
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)


CASE PLAY: INFIELD FLY IS NEGATED                                                                                                          Updated May 17, 2019
PLAY: R1 at 2B and R2 at 1B. With no strikes, B3 hits a fly ball about halfway between the pitcher and catcher. When the ball reaches its highest peak, the umpires announce “Infield Fly. Batter’s out!” F1 and F2 each think the other will field the ball. Neither does, and the ball hits the ground in fair territory and rolls untouched into foul territory. B3 starts walking back to his dugout.
RULING: HPU announces “Foul Ball, “ and asks B3 to return to the plate to continue his at bat. The definition of an infield fly includes the fact it must be a FAIR ball. If the batted ball rolls untouched into foul territory it is a foul ball and the out on the batter is negated. (Unless it was the third strike.) Rule one: Definitions- Infield Fly
D. Martin 5-15-19
David Martin
Denton, Texas
41-year volunteer Special Olympics
USA Softball Umpire 40 years
USA Softball National Indicator Fraternity/Elite
USA Softball of Texas D-13 Umpire in Chief Slow Pitch (retired)
North Texas Umpire Association Clinician (retired)
World Baseball Softball Confederation certified (2015-2018)

MSCSA Question Regarding the Infield Fly                                                                                                              Updated May 2, 2019
Q.  Batter is called out,ball hits the ground,when can the base runners advance? 
Thanks for the question.
A.  Runners may leave their base as soon as the ball is hit. **
The only time they have to “tag up” is when a fly ball is caught.
This includes an infield fly.
On an infield fly:
If it is caught, they must remain on base until the ball is first touched, or go back and “tag up” if they were off base.
If it is not caught, they may leave their base as soon as the ball is hit. (Risky with an infield fly.)
**If a runner leaves his base before the ball is hit (fair or foul), the ball is dead and the runner is out. The umpire should declare “No Pitch! Runner is out!”
By the way, I believe the above rules are true for all levels of baseball and softball, and all organizations.
USA Softball Rule References:
8.3.H     runner leaves base too soon (must re-touch)
8.8.L      runner leaves base too soon (fails to tag up)
8.4.L      Runner may advance with liability to be put out (during an infield fly)
8.7.R     Runner fails to keep contact with base until ball reaches home plate or is hit
8.7.R EFFECT    Runner leads off, (no pitch, ball is dead)
8.6       Runner must return after each pitch. May leave when ball reaches home plate.
Hope this helps.
David Martin

MSCSA Question Regarding Height Of A Foul Ball/Foul Tip                                                             Updated May 1, 2019
Q.  Does a foul ball/foul tip have to be higher than the batter’s head before it can be caught for an out?
A.  The reference  of the “height of the batter’s head” as it relates to a foul ball and foul tip no longer applies.  This change instituted in 2006, allows more opportunity for the catcher to obtain “outs” by catching foul batted balls the same as any other fielder playing closer to home plate.  The definition of a foul ball has not changed.  However a foul tip is now defined as a batted ball that goes sharply and directly from the bat to the catcher’s glove/mitt or hand and is legally caught by the catcher.
REF: 2019 USA Official Rules of Softball. Rules Supplement 22, Page 131

MSCSA Question Regarding Runner Interference                                                                          Updated April 16, 2019                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Q.  C league. Runner going from second to third. Rover fields the ball and looks at the runner going to third and sees the runner is running straight for the base. He throws wide to avoid hitting the runner. The runner is not called out for interference. The player feels the runner obstructed his throw an should be called out. What are the options for the player who feels his throw was obstructed and his play interfered with?
A. The 2019 MSCSA rule:
I believe the A and the B league got rid of this rule. One reason is because of these questions. Seems like when I was playing, we would have a couple of these plays every game.
D. Runner to Second or Third Base: In the Senior Men 65+ Division, at second and third base, the runner must run to the side of the base away from the direction of the incoming ball or the defensive play, unless they are trying to continue on to the next base.
If they “run through” the base and run on the same side of the bag as the incoming ball or the defensive play, they will be called out, unless, in the opinion of the umpires, the runner has to deviate from this course in an effort to avoid contact with the defensive player. 
The rule is pretty clear. In your situation, it seems the runner should have been called out. There is one exception to the rule: unless they have to deviate from their course to avoid contacd with a defensive player. And another would be if the runner arrived at the bag well before the throw, so no interference could be called. A third exception would be if the runner was obstructed by a defensive player and thus arrived late to the bag, or had to devieate his course around the defeneive players.
As far as the rover feeling wronged, yes, he should have his coach ask the umpire for a ruling.
David Martin

MSCSA QUESTION REGARDING UMPIRE POSITIONING                                                                                    Updated April 14, 2019
Q: What is the correct umpire positioning to make correct calls at first and third base?
A.   In MSCSA, players are used for umpires. The coach at first is responsible for plays at first. The coach at third is responsible for plays at second and third. The plate umpire has several duties, one of which is to be a second opinion in case the base umpires need help.
The coach’s box is eight feet from the foul line. The box extends 15 feet from the base toward home plate. Inside this box is the worst place a coach/umpire can be to make a close call.
Of the two duties, coaching and umpiring, the umpiring is more important, so the coach/umpire should stand somewhere that will make it easier to see close plays. They must remember they are umpires first and coaches second.
Most umpires are taught that the angle is everything. “Get the proper angle.” “Get the best angle.” “Angle over distance.” When you are in the coach’s box, you have a very poor angle to see a close play.
You see major league umpires on tv set up several feet past the bases, then move inside the diamond to make a call from about a 30- 45-degree angle. The USA SB Umpire Manual instructs us to start 18-21 feet down the line, completely in foul territory. When the ball is hit to an infielder, move inside the diamond, keeping the 18-21 foot distance, and no more than a 45 degree angle.
So, with that overview, here is my recommendation for MSCSA base umpires.
First base and third base umpires: They should NOT stand in the coach’s boxes. Instead, they should stand at least 15 feet toward the outfield past the coach’s box. The coach/umpire at 1B should be far enough toward the outfield, so that they will not impede the runner if he advances to 2B on an overthrow. This is a safer place; farther from the batter and farther from overthrown balls to their base. When the ball is hit to the outfield, the coach/umpires should stay where they are. When the ball is hit in the infield, they should take two or three steps into the field. This will give them a little bit of an angle to see better the four elements: ball, bag, runner and defensive player. They will be able to better see if there is a pulled foot on a force play, or if a swipe tag attempt was successful or not.
Third base coach/umpire: By being further away from home plate and coming inside a little, they will have a much better, unobstructed view of the play at 2B, too.
Home Plate Umpire: I have gone over this with the managers in a power point, but here are the basics.
1.    If there is no chance of a runner coming home on the play, the HPU should take a few steps toward 3B. This gives him a better angle to help the 1B umpire with swipe tag attempts and a possible pulled foot.
2.    If there is a chance of a runner coming home, the HPU’s first priority is determining the runner out or safe on the throw. The best possible place for this is first base line extended. The HPU should quickly move after the ball is hit to this position. His back will be almost against the backstop.
In summary:
Coach/umpires on the bases should start much further from home plate, past the coach’s box. When the ball is hit in the infield, they should move 2 or 3 steps into the field.
Opinion by David Martin, April 2019

MSCSA Question Regarding Appeal Plays                                                                                                                                           Updated April 11, 2019
Thanks for the question.
First, the definition of an appeal play:
“A play on a rule violation on which an umpire may not make a decision until requested by a manager or player.”
There are 4 appeal plays:
1. batting out of order
2. leaving a base too soon
3. missing a base when advancing
4. Attempting to advance to second base after making the turn at first base.
Appeals must be made before the next pitch, legal or illegal. (there are some exceptions, but they are for rare situations, such as an appeal at the end of the game.)
A live ball appeal can be made before time is called by a fielder in possession of the ball, by tagging the runner or stepping on the base missed or left too soon.
A dead ball appeal can be made as above, but only by an infielder or coach/manager OR by verbally announcing to the umpire what the players are appealing. For example “Blue, I want to appeal the runner missing second base”
So, to answer your question, there are two “proper” ways to make an appeal, as explained above. And a coach/manager or a player can make the appeal.
Umpires are taught to not make it too hard on the defense to appeal something. For example, if a runner missed third base and the defensive player runs over and stands on third base with the ball, it is pretty obvious he is “appealing” the missed base and the umpire should make a ruling safe or out.
Rule reference:
USA Softball Rule Book 2019 Rules Supplement #1, page 120. The specific rules can be found in Rule 7 for batting out of order and Rule 8 for the others. 
Keep those questions coming.
David Martin


MSCSA Rules Question            Updated 8-22-18


Today a pitcher came into pitch. He started with his foot on the pitcher’s plate. His first step was with his right foot off the pitcher’s plate and then a second step with his left foot before he released the ball. The fact is when he released the pitch he was two steps in front of the pitcher’s plate. So what is the rule on pitching from the plate or in front of the plate. I know you can pitch from behind the pitcher’s plate. What would be the call? I thought he was illegally pitching. He did later change by  standing  behind the pitchers plate and stepping with his right foot on the plate then his left foot in front of the plate before releasing.  I thought that form was ok.

Thanks for the question

Per rule, a pitcher is supposed to come to a complete stop with at least one foot touching the pitcher’s plate.

Then he must deliver the ball simultaneously with the step. Or he can deliver the ball without taking a step. But the rule is clear that only ONE step can be taken before the delivery.

There are many other rules regarding pitching, but this is the one that relates to the step:

SSUSA rule book, page 35, Rule 6.6.E 

USA Softball rule book, p. 74, Rule 6C.3.E

In MSCSA, we allow the pitcher to start up to several feet behind the pitcher’s plate. All other rules are still applicable. For example, after the stop only one step may be taken. 

There are at least two pitchers in the B league who take more than one step, which is technically illegal.

Another pitcher stops, then takes a step back, then a step forward, which is also technically illegal.

The spirit of the rule is to not give an unfair advantage to the pitcher by allowing him to get too close to the plate or to deliver the ball in different ways to try to confuse the batter. 

Routine rule violations in MSCSA that are universally ignored:

  1. Pitching rule about only one step allowed
  2. Batters out of the box before the pitch (every team has some; some teams have many who are not in the box)
  3. Donut-type attachments to bats (no SSUSA rule on this, but USA SB has banned them for over 30 years)
  4. Pitchers taking way too much time to get out to the pitcher’s plate (one minute is the rule)
  5. Pitchers taking way too many warm up pitches (3 warm ups is the rule)
  6. Pitchers who “walk the rubber” meaning they do not take a stop before delivering the ball

Does this mean we want to start enforcing these rules? I don’t know. I don’t think there will be much enthusiasm for enforcing them. But when we get to the tournament and have umpires, there may be some issues.

MSCSA Rules Question           Updated: 8-8-18

Dale Severson with the White Settlement Bearcats.


A runner on first base two outs. A ground ball hit to the second basement, who fields the ball cleanly an d throws the ball away. The BATTER meanwhile starts to walk to the dugout. He’s about 1/2 way between the baseline & the dugout, he realizes the ball was thrown away and runs to first base, beating the throw from the SHORTSTOP. Is the batter out for being out of the baseline or is he safe, because he beat the throw.

Thanks for the question.

The BR (batter-runner) would only be called out if he entered “the team area” or dugout.

USA SB rule 8.2.D “The BR is out when the BR fails to advance to first base and enters the team area…”

SSUSA rule 8.1 H “No runner may return to touch a missed base or one left illegally once he enters his dugout or bench area.” I couldn’t find one specific to the BR in the SSUSA rule book.

Umpires are taught that a BR or a runner may run anywhere they want on the field. The only exception is when they are being played up (someone is trying to put them out). In that case, they must run directly to the base.

Hope this answers your question

Dale Severson with the White Settlement Bearcats

One more rule clarification.

The 3rd baseman is playing on the grass. A pop fly hits in front of 3rd base in fair territory and spins past the base and hits after the bounce in foul territory. The 3rd baseman did not touch the ball. Is it FAIR or FOUL.

A legally batted ball that bounds over or past first or third base, regardless of where the ball hits after going over the base, it is a fair ball no matter where it goes after that.

USA SB rule 1 Definitions of a Fair ball. p. 20

MSCSA Rules Question      Updated: 8-2-18

QUESTION:  If a runner over-runs third base, under what circumstances would he be called out if he makes contact with the third base coach?

ANSWER:. SSUSA rule 9.2 V “The ball is in play, when, in the umpire’s judgement, a coach touches and physically assists a runner. EFFECT: A delayed dead ball signal will be given and play shall continue. The touched and assisted runner shall be ruled out and all other subsequent play will be ruled upon accordingly.”

USA Softball rule 8.7.E The runner is out when any offensive team member, other than another runner, physically assists a runner while the ball is live. EFFECT: the ball remains live and the runner being assisted is out.”

They key phrase is “physically assists.” 

Examples when the runner would be OUT because there was “physical assistance”: 

  1. Runner over-runs 3B and the coach pushes him back toward 3B.
  2. Runner over-runs 3B, trips or loses his balance and the coach prevents him, intentionally or unintentionally, from falling down.
  3. Runner over-runs 3B, falls down and the coach helps him to his feet
  4. Runner over-runs 3B and the coach grabs his arm and tells him to get back on the base.

Examples of when the runner would NOT be out because there was no ‘Physical Assistance”:

  1. Runner over-runs 3B and there is no play at 3B, and the coach pats the runner on the butt or shoulder.
  2. Runner over-runs 3B and the coach and runner brush against each other.

This rule also applies to a runner who touches 3B then proceeds to home plate. There can be no Physical Assistance from the coach. 

Keep those questions coming. 


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


MSCSA Rules Question                       UPDATED 5-2-18

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


MSCSA RULE QUESTION                   UPDATED 5-2-18

  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

MSCSA RULE QUESTION                        UPDATED 4-20-18

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

MSCSA RULES QUESTION                                       UPDATED 4-20-18
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
MSCSA RULES QUESTION                                          UPDATED 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