SOFTBALL Overview of the Game Softball is played on a field called a diamond. The field is divided into two areas, the infield and the outfield. The infield is bounded by the home plate and the three bases. The field is also divided into fair territory, the area inside the foul lines, and foul territory, the area outside the lines. (See diagram no.1) The object of the game is to score runs. Each run counts as a point. Runs are scored each time a batter becomes a base runner, and running in a counter-clockwise direction, safely touches first, second, third and home bases. The base runner must touch home plate before the third out of the inning is made in order to score. The game is divided into seven innings. In each inning, each team has one turn at bat (offence) and one in the field (defence). Each team is allowed three outs while at bat in an inning. The team to score the most runs at the end of the seven innings wins. A team consists of nine players. Players bat in the order on the scoresheet. The batter stands within the batter's box and the pitcher pitches to the batter. There are two types of pitches, a strike and a ball. A strike is a ball pitched into the strike zone that the batter does not swing at, or swings and misses, or hits into foul territory. A ball is a ball pitched outside the strike zone and not swung at by the hitter. Once a batter hits the ball they must run to first base, or beyond. If a batter does not hit the ball on the third strike they are out if the catcher catches the ball; if they are not out they must run to first base before the ball is caught by a player touching first base. If before three strikes are reached four balls have been pitched the batter may walk to first base. Fielding Positions A softball team is numbered in relation to fielding position and not batting order. These positions are: À Pitcher Á Catcher Â First Base Ã Second Base Ä Third Base Å Shortstop Æ Left field Ç Centre field È Right field (See diagram no.2). Infielders: Pitcher's basic duties: Pitch strikes, i.e. pitch the ball so that the batter must attempt to hit it. Cover home plate when the catcher is drawn away. Back up throws to second and third bases from the outfield. Catcher's basic duties: Catch or block all balls the batter misses or tips. Be prepared for pop-up catches. Be aware of runners stealing bases and be able to throw to the correct base for the out. First base's basic duties: Catch every ball thrown to first base and contact the base. Cover first base if not fielding the ball yourself. Do not obstruct the batter coming into base. When a runner approaches first base, stand on the inward side of the base with a foot touching the base. Play the ball, not the base. It is better to field the ball off the base than leave the ball and allow the runner to advance further because of an overthrow. Second base's basic duties: Cover second base if not fielding the ball yourself. Cover first base if the first base player is drawn into play. Second base is positioned behind the baseline between first and second bases. Third base's basic duties: Cover third base, even if the play is not to that base. If a player is obviously going to bunt, the third base player should move towards home plate. Shortstop's basic duties: Cover second and third bases when these players are drawn in the play. Move out into left and centre field to relay throws from deep in the outfield. Outfielders: Left field's basic duties: Back up all batted and thrown balls to the left side of the infield. Back up all balls to centre field. Back up third base. Centre field's basic duties: Back up all thrown and batted balls through the centre of the infield. Back up batted balls to left and right outfield. Right field's basic duties: Back up batted balls to the right of the infield. Back up all throws to first base. Back up all balls to centre field. The right fielder usually plays closer to the diamond than the other outfielders. Basic Fielding Principles 8 Watch the ball from the time it leaves the bat or fielder's hand to the time you pick it up or catch it. Watch it all the way to your glove. 8 Take a practical "ready" position before each pitch. This allows for the glove to be on the ground for a ground ball, but also allows for movement to a fly ball. 8 On the pitch, all players move in and be aware of what they will do if the ball is hit or thrown to them, 8 Place your body behind the ball. 8 Use two hands whenever fielding or catching. This enables easier glove closure around the ball, provides a back up if a fumble is made, and positions the throwing hand for a quick release. 8 Move to the ball. 8 Throw ball directly to target. 8 If the ball must bounce, make sure it bounces in front of you. 8 Loudly call "MY BALL" to avoid confusion or collision with other players when fielding fly balls. 8 Outfielders: It is easier to run forward than backwards, so play deep enough. Always back up infield players. 8 Outfielders must return the ball quickly to the infield area. 8 Think about where the batter hit the ball the last time they batted and position yourself accordingly. 8 Know where to throw the ball after it has been fielded. Look at where the base runners are located. General Rules 1. On start of play, the plate umpire calls "Batter up" for the batter to take up position in the batter's box. On any suspension of play the umpire calls "Time out". To restart the game the umpire calls "Play ball". 1. A STRIKE is called by the umpire for each 8 Legally pitched ball entering the strike zone (see diagram no. 3) and at which the batter does not swing. 8 Legally pitched ball struck at and missed by the batter. 8 Foul tip held by the catcher. 8 Foul ball not caught when the batter has less than two strikes. 1. A BALL is called by the umpire for each – 8 Legally pitched ball that does not enter the strike zone, or touches the ground before reaching the home-plate and which the batter does not attempt to strike. 8 Illegally pitched ball. 4. If a pitched or batted ball hits the batter whilst in the batter's box, the ball is DEAD. 4. Batters complete their turn at the bat as soon as they hit a fair ball or when the umpire has called four balls. Four balls entitle the batter to go to first base. This is known as a WALK. If the base-runners are in a force situation, each base-runner will advance one base. 4. If the pitch hits the batter and the ball has not been swung at, the batter is permitted to go to first base. 4. The batter is out if the third strike is caught. NB. If the catcher fails to hold the ball on the third strike, the batter should run to first base to try and beat the force-out or a tag-out. 8. Batters should run to first base immediately after hitting a fair ball. While running there, the bat should be dropped safely into foul territory. 8. If the batted ball hits the batter outside the batter's box, the batter is out and the ball is dead. Base-running 8 Base-runners may attempt to advance to the next base when the ball is hit into fair territory and not caught, when a ball is overthrown, on a strike, on a ball, when the catcher misses the ball, or when the coach tells you to. 8 The batter/base-runner may over-run first base. When over-running first base, always turn into foul territory to avoid being tagged off base. 8 Base-runners must retain contact with the base. Players may be put out if tagged off base. 8 Base-runners must return to the base they occupied if a hit ball is caught, provided they left the base before the ball was handled. However, the base-runner may advance to the next base after the ball is handled or attempt to advance after retouching the base. 8 Base-runners may not advance on a foul ball or when the ball becomes dead. 8 Base-runners attempting to steal may return to their original base, even if they have travelled over halfway to the next base. 8 Base-runners may not be more than one metre from any baseline when trying to avoid a tag-out. 8 Base runners must touch each base. 8 One run is scored when a base-runner completes a full circuit of the bases in legal order before the third out of an inning. 8 A base-runner may legally leave the base when a pitched ball leaves the pitcher's hand. Base-runners must maintain contact with the base until the ball leaves the pitcher's hand. If the runner leaves the base early, the runner is out. 8 A base-runner is out if a fielder holding the ball touches the base to which the runner is forced before the runner does. 8 A force-out is made by tagging a base ahead of a runner only when the runner is forced to advance because the batter becomes a runner. 8 A base-runner is out is a fielder tags (i.e. touches) the base-runner with the ball whilst off the base. NB. First base must tag inside the fair territory area. 8 Two runners may not occupy the same base. The first runner retains the right to the base, except on a forced play. 8 If a runner misses a base, the runner may be put out by a fielder touching the base with the ball before the runner re-tags the base. 8 A base-runner must return to base on a foul ball, and when a batted ball is caught by a fielder. After retouching the base, the base-runner may advance at their own risk. 8 The base-runner must always be alert, watching the coach and/or looking for opportunities to steal. The moment the ball has left the pitcher's hand the runner should be ready to leave the base ("take a lead"). Sliding There may be times when the ball and the base-runner arrive at the base almost together. Sliding may be the answer to get the runner onto the base safely. However, the runner must not slide into first base. The runner is out if the runner overslides home plate, misses it, and the plate is tagged by a fielder before the runner can return. Play Ball The Batter 8 The batter must stand with both feet within the batter's box. 8 The batter is out if an attempt to hit the ball is made while the whole of either foot is outside the lines of the batter's box. 8 A batter must run when a fair ball is hit. 8 The batter is out if a fair fly ball is caught by an opponent before it touches the ground. 8 The batter is out if a foul fly ball is caught by an opponent before it touches the ground. 8 A batter may run after three strikes if the catcher fails to catch the ball. 8 The batter is out if the third strike is caught and held by the catcher. 8 The batter is also out if the third strike is not caught, and there are less than two outs and first base is occupied. 8 If the third out is called before a batter has completed the turn at bat, this batter becomes the first batter in the next inning. Definitions Appeal Play An appeal play is a game situation upon which an umpire cannot make a decision until requested to by a player. The appeal must be made before the next ball is delivered to the batter. Base on Balls (aka A Walk) A base on balls permits a batter to gain first base without liability to be put out and is awarded to a batter by the umpire when four pitches are judged to be balls. Base Path A base path is an imaginary line 900cm either side of a direct line between bases. Base-runner A base-runner is a player of the team at bat who has finished their turn at bat, reached first base, and has not yet been put out. Base Running Run as soon as the ball is hit, unless it is a fly ball). Base runners must touch bases in legal order. If the chance of an extra base is apparent, run to the right some three metres from the base and drive hard to touch the inside of the base. (See diagram no. 4). Batted Ball Any ball that hits the bat or is hit by the bat and which lands either in fair or foul territory. No intention to hit the bat is necessary. Batter/Base-runner This is a player who has finished their turn at bat but has not yet been put out or touched first base. Batting order This is the official listing of offensive players in the order which members of that teammust come to bat. Blocked Ball A blocked ball is a batted or thrown ball that is touched, stopped, or handled by a person not engaged in the game, or which touches any object which is not part of the official equipment or official playing area. Bunt A bunt is a legally batted ball tapped slowly within the infield. The batter and baserunners may advance. If the ball is bunted foul after two strikes, the batter is out and the base-runners may not advance. Catch A catch is a legally caught ball which occurs when the fielder catches a batted or thrown ball with their hands or glove. If the ball is merely held in the fielder's arms or prevented from dropping to the ground by some part of the fielder's arms or clothing, the catch is not completed until the ball is in the grasp of the fielder's hand or glove. Dead Ball The ball is not in play and is not considered in play again until the pitcher holds it in the pitching position and the umpire has called "PLAY'. Defensive Team This is the team in the field. Double Play This is a play by the defence in which two offensive players are legally put out as a result of continuous action. Fair Ball A fair ball is a batted ball that:8 is hit into fair territory. 8 lands on the full and settles on fair territory between home and first base, or between home and third base. 8 first falls on fair territory beyond first or third base. Fair Territory That part of the playing field within and including first base and third base foul lines from home base to the bottom of the playing field. Fly Ball A fly ball is any ball batted into the air. Force-out A force-out is an out which can only be made when a base-runner loses the right to the base which had been occupied by that base-runner because the batter becomes a base runner. Foul Ball A foul ball is a batted ball that:8 first touches on foul territory. 8 settles on foul territory between home and first base, or between home and third base. Foul Tip A foul tip is a batted ball that does not rise higher that the batter's head, and which is caught by the catcher. A strike is called, the ball remains in play, and base-runners may advance at their own risk. If this is the third strike the batter is out. Illegally Caught Ball This occurs when a fielder catches a batted ball with a cap, glove, or any part of the playing uniform while is it detached from its proper place. Infield Fly Rule The batter is out if an infield fly ball is hit and there are less than two runners out and runners are on first and second, or first, second and third. The umpire calls "infield fly, batter out". Interference This is the act of an offensive player or team member which impedes, hinders, of confuses a defensive player who is attempting to execute a play. Obstruction This occurs:8 When a defensive player or team member hinders or prevents a batter from striking or hitting a pitched ball. 8 A fielder who does not have possession of the ball, or who is in the act of fielding a batted ball, impedes the progress of a base-runner who is legally running bases. Offensive Team The offensive team is the team at bat. Overthrow An overthrow is a play in which a ball is thrown from one fielder to another in an attempt to retire a base-runner who has not reached or is off base, and which goes into foul territory. Passed Ball This is a legally pitched ball that should have been held or controlled by the catcher. Play " PLAY' is the term used by the plate umpire to indicate that play shall begin or be resumed. Strike Zone The strike zone is that space over the home-plate, which is between the batter's armpits and the top of the knees when the batter assumes a natural batting stance. Tagging A tag (or legal touch) occurs when a base-runner, who is not touching base, is touched by the ball whilst held in the fielder's hand. A runner may be tagged between bases by any fielder. A runner must be tagged by a fielder on an unforced run. Turn at Bat A turn at bat begins when a player first enters the batter's box and continues until put out or becomes a base-runner. Time "TIME" is the term used by the umpire to order the suspension of play. Wild Pitch This is a legally pitched ball so high, so low, or so wide of the home-plate that the catcher cannot stop or control it with ordinary effort. Strike Zone: The strike zone is that space over the home plate, between the level of the batter’s armpits and the top of the knees, when the batter assumes a natural batting stance. Running Consecutive Bases Diagram no. 4 Remember: 1. Touch all the bases. 2. Listen to the base-coaches and do what they say. 3. Watch the ball every moment while on base. 4. Run hard and positively the instant the opposition makes a mistake.