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RULES OF PLAY

REVISED JANUARY, 2018

RULES OF PLAY

1. COMPLETE GAME IS SEVEN INNINGS (SIX INNINGS IN 8U)       

1.1 Game will be terminated after 6 ½ innings if home team is ahead. (5 ½ innings in 8U)

1.2 If tied at the end of seven complete innings (six innings in 8U), apply USA Softball Tiebreaker Rule until a winner is determined or a time limit rule comes into effect.        

2. NO NEW INNING AFTER ONE HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES

2.1 When the 1hr. 40 min. time limit is reached, the home team is the winner if ahead in the bottom half of an inning.  Otherwise, continue play until the above condition exists or until the end of a complete inning, whichever comes first.  If the game does not reach the last batter time limit, the final score is the score at the end of the game. Score will not revert back to the last complete inning.

3. “LAST BATTER” GAME TERMINATION AT TWO HOURS

3.1 Under no circumstances will a batter be allowed to start an at-bat after the two hour time limit.  At the two hour mark, the current batter will be allowed to complete her turn at bat. The final score is the score at the end of the last completed inning. 

Exception:  The final score is the score at the two hour limit (will NOT revert back to the last completed inning,) when ALL of the following conditions are met upon reaching the two hour limit:

  • Home team is batting in the bottom of an incomplete inning. 
  • Home team has scored to gain a tie or the lead in the bottom of the incomplete inning.
  • Home team was behind or tied at the end of the last completed inning.

4. GAME SUSPENSION DUE TO WEATHER, DARKNESS, ETC.

4.1 If the game must be suspended prior to the completion of 3 ½ innings, or with the home team tied or behind in the bottom of the fourth inning, the game will be resumed at a later date at the point at which it was suspended.  All players on the official team rosters on the original game date, unless previously ejected, are eligible to play when the game is resumed, even if they were not present at the original game. 

4.2 If the game must be suspended, and the “no new inning” time limit has been reached, or after the completion of four innings, or with the home team ahead in the bottom of the fourth inning, apply the “last batter” game termination Rule 3 above. This supersedes Rule 4.1 above.  

5. DOUBLE FORFEITS ARE A LOSS FOR BOTH TEAMS

5.1 In the event that neither team is able to field a minimum of seven players for a scheduled game, a double forfeit will be recorded, and a loss assessed to both teams in the league standings.

6. SPECIAL RULE FOR LEAGUE TOURNAMENT GAMES

6.1 A league tournament game must have a winner.  The USA Softball Tiebreaker Rule will be applied in league tournament games that exceed seven innings, (six innings in 8U), or are tied when a time limit rule comes into effect.

6.2 Tournament championship games will be subject to a “No new inning after two hours” limitation.  

7. TIEBREAKERS FOR LEAGUE STANDINGS

7.1 The following tiebreakers are used to break ties in league standings:

Note: Tiebreakers 2 – 4 are only used to determine league tournament seedings.  If a tie for a trophy placing cannot be broken using tiebreaker #1 below, all tied teams will receive trophies.

  1. Won-Lost record in games between the tied teams (i.e., Head-To-Head)
  2. Runs allowed in games between the tied teams.
  3. Runs allowed in all games.
  4. Coin flip.

8. UMPIRE RESPONSIBILITES-SUBSTITUTIONS

8.1 If an umpire is late for the start of the game, inform the Umpire-In-Chief or any Board Member present, then recruit a mutually acceptable substitute who will relinquish the duty upon the arrival of the regular umpire after the current full inning is completed.

8.2 An umpire's authority shall begin the minute he/she steps onto the field of play at a respective park and shall remain in authority until he/she leaves the field of play at the conclusion of the game. 

9. FIELD RESPONSIBILITIES

9.1 Teams are to share in the field preparation, field breakdown, and field cleanup responsibilities. Each team is responsible for policing its side of the field and bleacher area upon completion of the game. All teams who have completed their games are to vacate the field immediately if another game is scheduled to follow. Teams who have the last game of the day on a respective field are to secure the league’s equipment in their respective storage containers.

10. PLAYER INNING REQUIREMENTS

10.1 Every player must play at least two defensive innings, and should never sit out two consecutive innings unless due to injury, illness, player/parent request or other unusual circumstances.

11. GAME STARTING REQUIREMENTS

11.1 A team will forfeit any game in which it is not able to field a minimum of seven players at the umpire’s official game start time.  A forfeit will also be assessed if a team is unable to continue, or finish a game with a minimum of seven players. This rule also applies in the event of a player injury that reduces a team below the minimum of seven players.

This rule applies to all age divisions, including those that field ten players on defense.  Any team forced to play with only seven players will be required to take a mandatory out every time the eighth spot in the batting order comes up.  A team forced to play shorthanded with at least eight players WILL NOT be penalized in this manner.  Vacant position(s) must be listed last in the batting order.

12. DUGOUT REQUIREMENTS FOR PLAYERS

12.1 Players not at bat, on deck, base running, or in defensive positions are required to remain in the dugout during the game.  Teams playing on fields without permanent dugouts will consider specific seating in the out-of-play area as the dugout.

13. MANAGER AND COACH REQUIREMENTS

13.1 A maximum of one official manager and three official coaches are allowed in the dugout during games.  Should one of these be ejected from the game, he/she may not be replaced.

13.2 All members are to adhere to SMGSA's Code of Conduct which is outlined in the Mission and Vision/Values statements. The Code of Conduct also includes, but is not limited to, clean language, respect of umpires, managers, coaches, players and parents, and treating all SMGSA members the way one wishes to be treated. Violations to the Code of Conduct could result in the member being ejected and Rule 14.1 (Ejection Rule) being implemented.

14. EJECTION RULE

14.1 A manager, coach, player, parent or spectator who is ejected from a game will incur an automatic one game suspension, to be served immediately, beginning with the next game. A game is described as the moment the umpire steps onto the field of play and until he/she leaves the field of play at the games conclusion. The suspended manager, coach, player, parent or spectator is not to attend the game or be in the park before, during, or after the game. In the event of an ejection, the game umpire will submit an ejection report to the UIC, who will subsequently notify the Player Agent in order to ensure adherence to the stated penalties.

A manager, coach, player, parent or spectator who is ejected from a second game will receive an automatic three game suspension, with a hearing to be scheduled in front of the Executive Board to determine if the individual can continue to participate in the league.

Managers are responsible for the behavior of their team’s parents, relatives, fans, and spectators.

15. MANAGER OPTION TO TERMINATE AT-BAT

15.1 If currently ahead in the score, the manager of the offensive team may terminate his/her team’s at-bats before the defensive team records the third out of the half-inning.  See Run Ahead Rule 17 for run-ahead limits.

16. TIME EXTENSION DUE TO INJURY

16.1 There will be no time extension given when a player is injured, unless called for by the umpire due to extenuating circumstances.

17. “RUN AHEAD RULE”

17.1 The team in the lead will be declared the winner if ahead by the stated number of runs after completion of the following number of innings:

  • Four innings (3 ½ if home ahead) 12 runs
  • Five innings (4 ½ if home ahead) 10 runs
  • Six innings (5 ½ if home ahead)   8 runs

18. NOTIFICATION OF BENCHED PLAYERS

18.1 Opposing managers and the umpire must be notified prior to a game if a player in attendance is to be benched or is injured.  The team manager must receive permission from the Player Agent or the Director of Coaching at least 24 hours prior to benching a player for disciplinary actions.

19. COURTESY RUNNERS

19.1 Only the pitcher and catcher may have courtesy runners.  The courtesy runner will be the person that made the last out.  In the event that no outs have been recorded in the current half-inning, the courtesy runner must be the first player preceding the replaced player who is not already on base at the time.

20. GAME RESCHEDULING

20.1 Games will not be rescheduled unless required by weather, or other improper playing conditions.  Games may not be rescheduled until the Scheduler and Umpire-In-Chief have been contacted regarding field and umpire availability.

The Scheduler will assign a game reschedule date if either manager is unable to agree on an appropriate date within fourteen days of the originally scheduled game.  Should unusual circumstances occur, special permission to reschedule may be allowed by the Scheduler.

21. GAME CANCELLATION

21.1 If no message is posted on the league website, (www.smgsa.org) canceling the game two hours prior to start time, teams are required to show up or risk forfeit.  The umpire will make game time decisions as appropriate and as weather conditions warrant.

22. PROTESTS

22.1 Refer to the “USA Softball Official Rules of Softball”, “Rule 9 – Protests”.

22.2 All protests shall be submitted IN WRITING, and hand delivered, emailed, or postmarked to the League President, or ranking League official if the President position is vacant, within 48 hours.  The Protest Committee, as provided in the League Bylaws, MUST interview both managers and the umpire of record to determine the facts, then will meet to resolve the protest.  A decision of the committee will be made within seven days and will be final.

23. HOME/VISITOR DETERMINATION

23.1 Home team is listed second on the schedule and will occupy the 3rd base dugout.  Tournament games, playoff games, and practice games shall be designated as “coin flip” games for the purpose of determining home/visitor.

24. PLAYERS LEAVING DURING GAME TIME

24.1 If a player is unable to bat during a game due to any reason     (e.g., physical injury, early departure, restroom use, etc.), the batting team shall notify the umpire and opposing manager and skip her spot in the batting order WITHOUT PENALTY.

If a player is unable to complete her responsibilities as a batter because of injury, she will be replaced by the next player in the batting order, who will assume the ball-strike count of the injured player.

If a player in unable to complete her responsibilities as a runner because of injury, she will be replaced by the most recent out of the affected team.  In the event that no outs have been recorded in the current half-inning, the courtesy runner must be the first player preceding the replaced player who is not already on base at the time.

If a Rule 24 event reduces a team below seven players, that team will forfeit the game.

25. ON DECK CIRCLE VIOLATIONS and HELMET RULE

25.1 As noted in the specific GROUND RULES Section for Alverno High School and Meyer Field, there are NO ON DECK BATTING CIRCLES at these fields.  For safety reasons WARM UP SWINGS ARE NOT ALLOWED.

25.2 A player must wear a helmet with attached face guard when entering the on deck circle at fields where such an area is designated.  Additionally, a player may not remove her helmet until she enters the dugout area at the conclusion of her batter/runner responsibilities.  Exception – Rule does not apply if a helmet falls off while a player is running the bases.

If a player violates Rule 25, the umpire will issue a warning.  The second and subsequent infractions in one game will result in a team out.  Example: After two outs have been recorded, and one warning already issued, a batter removes her helmet while standing on first base. The third out will be called.  The player at bat at the time of the infraction will start her at bat again in her team’s next offensive inning.

26. POINTS OF EMPHASIS

26.1 8-Foot Circle or “Look Back Rule”

Managers and coaches are strongly advised to become familiar with the USA Softball 8-foot circle, or “Look Back Rule.”

26.2 Dead Ball Base Awards

Managers and coaches are strongly advised to become familiar with the USA Softball rules regarding base awards to runners when a live ball enters dead ball territory.

26.3 Legal Delivery

Managers and coaches are strongly advised to become familiar with the rules concerning the Legal Delivery, as defined in USA Softball Rule 6 – PITCHING REGULATIONS (Fast Pitch).

26.4 Catcher Safety

Managers and coaches must adhere to USA Softball Rule 3 – EQUIPMENT.  Any player warming up a Junior Olympic pitcher must wear an approved catcher’s helmet and mask.

26.5 Charged Conferences

Three charged conferences between the manager and/or other team representative from the dugout with any defensive player are allowed in a regulation game.  EFFECT: Any excess conferences will result in the removal of the current pitcher for the remainder of the current defensive inning.  NOTE: USA Softball rules regarding additional conferences allowed during games longer than seven innings apply as written.

26.6 Baserunner Interference

Managers and coaches are strongly advised to become familiar with the USA Softball Rule regarding baserunner interference.

26.7 Defensive Obstruction

Managers and coaches are strongly advised to become familiar with the USA Softball Rule regarding defensive obstruction of baserunners.

26.8 Helmet Face Guard Requirement

USA Softball requires that all batters use an approved batting helmet.  Additionally, SMGSA requires that helmets have an approved face guard attached.  These rules apply in all games, including practice games, regular spring and fall seasons, and summer all-star play.

26.9 Metal Cleats

Metal cleats are not allowed in 6U, 8U, 10U, or 12U.  They are allowed in 14U.

27. 6U DIVISION EXTENDED RULES

27.1 General Game Rules

All players present will bat once each inning, regardless of the number of defensive outs recorded.  Late arrivals will be inserted at the bottom of the order.  Managers are encouraged to change the batting order for each game, as players placed near the top of the lineup will have more opportunities to score runs.

Each game will consist of a minimum of two innings.  Every player present for the entire game will have a minimum of two plate appearances, regardless of elapsed time.  Play may continue after two complete innings up to a time limit of one hour and fifteen minutes.

The 6U Division will use a 10” USA Softball approved softball.

Standings will not be maintained and game scores will not be posted. 

27.2 Defense

Every player present will play in the field during her team’s entire defensive half-inning.  Six players will be assigned infield positions, including “pitcher” and catcher, and the rest will be spread across the outfield.  All outfielders are required to remain at least 20 feet behind the baselines until the ball is pitched.  The “pitcher” must remain within the 8-foot radius circle until the ball is hit.

Managers should rotate players to different defensive positions often, preferably every three batters.  All players should be given the opportunity to play infield positions.

After a batted ball, defensive players should be encouraged to “make a play” (i.e. throw to a base, rather than always return the ball to the pitcher,) to improve their skills and knowledge of the game.

Three coaches are allowed in the outfield during a team’s defensive half-inning. These coaches are to provide defensive instruction.  If an outfield coach inadvertently touches a live batted ball, the ball will remain in play as though it had not been touched.

The infield fly rule is not in effect for the 6U Division.

27.3 Coach-Pitcher

The pitching distance for the 6U Division is 30 feet from the front edge of the pitching plate to the back point of home plate.

Each half-inning, the team batting will provide a coach to deliver a maximum of three underhand pitches to each batter from his/her own team.  If a batter fails to hit a fair ball after three pitches, she will be given three attempts to hit a fair ball off of a batting tee.  If a player fails to hit a fair ball off of the tee, she is out.  To ensure fair play, under no circumstances will a batter be allowed more than the specified number of attempts.

After a fair batted ball, the coach-pitcher must exit the playing field away from the direction the ball is hit, and make every effort to avoid interference.  If the coach-pitcher inadvertently touches a live batted ball, the ball will remain in play as though it had not been touched.  The coach-pitcher is not to play defense.

27.4 Baserunning

No stealing bases.

No leading off until the ball is hit.

After a play is made on a fair batted ball, the ball is dead upon return to the pitcher within the 8-foot radius circle.  It is not necessary for the pitcher to control the ball.  All runners will return to the last base touched, or if more than halfway to the next base, will advance to the next base. 

After a fair batted ball, runners may attempt to advance on any overthrow remaining in play.  As in all SMGSA divisions, an overthrow that goes out of play will result in a two base award from where the runner was when the thrown ball left the fielder’s hand.

28. 8U DIVISION EXTENDED RULES

28.1 Baserunning

  1. Runners starting at first or second base are entitled to steal only one base per pitch.  
  2. A runner starting at third base may not steal home, but is liable to be put out if off the base.
  3. If a batter strikes out and the ball is dropped by the catcher or touches the ground before reaching the catcher, the batter is out (no dropped third strike rule,) and the ball is live.
  4. A batter, who receives a base on balls, cannot advance beyond first base.  If the batter-runner advances further, once the ball becomes dead, she will be returned to first base.
  5. A runner, attempting to advance beyond the base they are entitled to advance or steal may be put out while between bases. A runner cannot be put out while in contact with a base.
  6. After all play ceases and the ball is dead, if a runner occupies a base beyond the one she was entitled to, she will be returned to the correct base without liability to be put out.
  7. The infield fly rule is not in effect for the 8U Division.

28.2 Ten Defensive Players Allowed

The 8U Division will play with ten players on the field.  The tenth player must play as a fourth outfielder.  All outfielders are required to remain at least 20 feet behind the baselines until the ball is pitched.

28.3 Batting Order / Substitutions

All players on the team roster in attendance will bat in a designated batting order.  Late arrivals are added to the bottom of the batting order.  Free defensive substitution is allowed.

28.4 Ball Requirements

The 8U Division will use a 10” USA Softball approved softball.

28.5 Pitching Distance

Pitching distance for the 8U Division is 30 feet from the front edge of the pitching plate to the back point of home plate.

28.6 Maximum Runs Per Half-Inning

In the 8U Division, no more than five runs may be scored per half-inning.  This run limit is in effect for the first four innings.  From the fifth inning on, the run limit is waived.

28.7 Coach Pitch Rules

  1. After one walk per half inning, when four balls are called on a batter, the manager or a coach from the offensive team will come in to pitch to that batter. The batter retains the number of strikes in the count.  Every pitch delivered by a coach-pitcher is considered a strike.  The batter must hit one of the pitches delivered by the coach or be called out.  A coach pitch DOES NOT count if the batter has two strikes and hits a foul ball that is not caught, or if the batter is hit by a coach pitch.  Bunting and stealing are not allowed during coach-pitch. Example: The batter has one strike when ball four is called by the umpire.  The coach-pitcher assumes the strike count, and will deliver up to two pitches to the batter, subject to the exceptions above.
  2. The player-pitcher must remain within the lines of the 8-foot radius circle while the coach-pitcher is pitching.  The coach-pitcher delivers pitches from the regulation 30 foot pitching distance, and does not play defense. After a fair batted ball, the coach-pitcher must exit the playing field away from the direction the ball is hit, and make every effort to avoid interference. If the coach-pitcher inadvertently touches a live batted ball, the ball will remain in play as though it had not been touched.  Only one individual per half-inning may be designated as “coach-pitcher”.

28.8 Defensive Outfield Coach

One coach is allowed in the outfield during a team’s defensive half-inning.  The coach is to provide defensive instruction.  If the outfield coach inadvertently touches a live batted ball, the ball will remain in play as though it had not been touched.

28.9 Multiple Pitchers Recommendation

Managers are strongly encouraged to use more than one pitcher per game, with at least two pitchers each allowed to pitch a minimum of one complete defensive half-inning.  When a team has more than one pitcher available, secondary pitchers should be provided with frequent opportunities to develop their skills.  A complete game by the starting pitcher should be a rare occurrence.

Examples of situations where it might be reasonable to waive this recommendation include, but are not limited to the following:

A team has only one pitcher available to pitch in a given game. (Should be communicated to the opposing manager before the start of the game.)

A second pitcher is injured or becomes otherwise unavailable during a game.

28.10 Complete game is six innings

Game will be terminated after 5 ½ innings if home team is ahead. If tied at the end of six complete innings, apply USA Softball Tiebreaker Rule until a winner is determined or a time limit rule comes into effect.

28.11 Special Rule for league tournament games

A league tournament game must have a winner.  The USA Softball Tiebreaker Rule will be applied in league tournament games that exceed six innings or are tied when a time limit rule comes into effect.

28.12 Season scores and standings

For the first four weeks of the spring season, beginning opening day and extending to through the Sunday of the fourth week, scores and standings will not count towards the team’s win-loss record. Standings will be kept beginning on the Monday of the fifth week in order to determine placement for season ending trophies and seeding for the end of the season tournament.

29. 10U DIVISION EXTENDED RULES

29.1 Ten Defensive Players Allowed

The 10U Division will play with ten players on the field.  The tenth player must play as a fourth outfielder.  All outfielders are required to remain at least 20 feet behind each baseline until the ball is pitched.

29.2 Batting Order / Substitutions

All players on the team roster in attendance will bat in a designated batting order.  Late arrivals are added to the bottom of the batting order.  Free defensive substitution is allowed.

29.3 Ball Requirements

The 10U Division will use an 11” USA Softball approved softball.

29.4 Pitching Distance

The pitching distance for the 10U Division is 35 feet from the front edge of the pitching plate to the back point of home plate.

29.5 Maximum Runs Per Half-Inning

In the 10U Division, no more than five runs may be scored per half-inning.  This run limit is in effect for the first five innings.   From the sixth inning on, the run limit is waived.

29.6 Multiple Pitchers Recommendation

Managers are strongly encouraged to use more than one pitcher per game, with at least two pitchers each allowed to pitch a minimum of one complete defensive half-inning.  When a team has more than one pitcher available, secondary pitchers should be provided with frequent opportunities to develop their skills.  A complete game by the starting pitcher should be a rare occurrence.

Examples of situations where it might be reasonable to waive this recommendation include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. A team has only one pitcher available to pitch in a given game. (Should be communicated to the opposing manager before the start of the game.)
  2. A second pitcher is injured or becomes otherwise unavailable during a game.

30. 12U / 14-16U EXTENDED RULES

30.1 Batting Order / Substitutions

All Players on the team roster in attendance will bat in a designated batting order.  Late arrivals are to be added to the bottom of the batting order.  Free defensive substitution is allowed.

30.2 Pitching Distance

Pitching distance for the 12U Division is 40 feet from the front edge of the pitching plate to the back point of home plate.  Pitching distance for the 14U Division is 43 feet at all fields EXCEPT HEASLEY FIELD, where the distance will remain at 40 feet.

30.3 Ball Requirements

The 12U & 14U Divisions will use a 12” USA Softball approved softball.

30.4 Maximum Runs Per Half-Inning

In the 12U & 14U Divisions, the 5-UP rule will apply. 

  1. If a team coming to bat is tied or winning, they will be allowed to score no more than five runs in that half-inning.
  2. If a team coming to bat is losing in that half-inning, they will be allowed to score no more than the number of runs that would give them a five run lead. Example:  A team comes to bat losing 10-2.  That team will be allowed to score no more than 13 runs, which would give the team a five run lead, at 15-10
  3. The run limit imposed in A and B above is waived after the completion of five innings.

31.   GROUND RULES

31.1 SIERRA MADRE MIDDLE SCHOOL

  1. The imaginary out-of-play lines extend from both ends of the backstop parallel to the foul lines. (Southwest field)
  2. No games are to be played on Meyer Field (Northeast field), due to layout of the field and the ADA path on the right field line.

31.2 ALVERNO HIGH SCHOOL

  1. The embankment beyond the right field is out of play.  Any fair untouched batted ball that enters this area is a double.  The precise beginning of the embankment area is left to the judgment of the umpire.
  2. The paved area beyond left field is out of play.  Any fair untouched batted ball that enters this area is a home run.
  3. The imaginary out-of-play lines extend from both dugout fences parallel to the foul lines.
  4. Any batted ball contacting tree branches extending over the field prior to touching the ground will be ruled a “dead ball”.  The count to the batter will be treated as if a batted ball landed untouched in foul territory.
  5. Due to limited space and the severe risk of injuries, there will be NO on-deck circle or warm up swings allowed by the on-deck batter!

31.3 SIERRA MADRE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

  1. The imaginary out-of-play lines extend from both ends of the backstop fencing parallel to the foul lines.
  2. In the absence of a temporary outfield fence, a fair untouched batted ball reaching the left or center field chain link fence, or the area beyond the backstop in center field is a home run.

31.4 VICTORY PARK - FIELD 4

  1. In right field, an imaginary out-of-play line extends in a straight line from the end of the backstop/dugout fence to the end of the Field 3 outfield fence.
  2. A fair untouched batted ball entering the playground beyond left field is a home run.