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Softball Rebranding - Fick's Fast Pitch

Softball Rebranding - Fick's Fast Pitch

As we mentioned a couple of months ago USA Softball is the new and rebranded name of the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) effective with the 2017 season. This change has been in the works for some years and reflects the organization’s position as the National Governing Body of the sport and the return of both softball and baseball to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games program. For umpires (and others) there are no changes other than a new name and of course a new uniform which will be phased in over the next four years and offer more options – especially for shirt colors. Right now, we all need to work on saying USA Softball rather than ASA. For me, that could take years to get used to. USA Softball has adopted some Mechanics Points of Emphasis for this season and also made some updates to its...
2017 Annual Rules Quiz

2017 Annual Rules Quiz

It’s time for my annual rules quiz. Below are 10 True or False questions based on the Pro rules. Where there is a distinction between the Pro, NCAA and NFHS rule, I have noted it in my answer section. Therefore, if you would rather take the test under NFHS or NCAA rules, you can do so. If you get all 10 correct, consider yourself a “rules guru;” A score of 8-9 correct answers places you in the category of a rules expert; If you get 6-7 right answers, you are living in the average lane; A score of 4 or 5 places you in the category of “rules challenged.” Any score less than 4 correct puts you in rules crisis. And you should deny that you ever took this quiz. OK-number your papers from 1-10 and simply write “True” or “False” for each question. The answers are found at the end of the quiz. Good...
NFHS Rule Change Review

NFHS Rule Change Review

The NFHS Baseball Rules Committee made five rules changes for the 2017 season. This month we’ll discuss those changes and the 2017 points of emphasis. We’ll also review the changes which went into effect for 2016. Pitch count. The rules now require a pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown in a game. Most states had restrictions in place based on the number of innings pitched. The policy will afford pitchers a required rest period between pitching appearances. The NFHS is committed to allowing state associations to determine pitch count restrictions because of the disparity in the length of HS baseball seasons and the number of games played. A model plan was developed by Bert Borgmann of the Colorado High School Activities Association over a three-year period which...
NCAA Rule Changes for 2017

NCAA Rule Changes for 2017

The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee made a variety of changes and editorial revisions for the 2017 season. Here they are in the approximate order of significance. Collisions. In the interest of safety, the collision rule (8-7) has been revised. When a runner is attempting to score, there are restrictions on both the runner and the catcher which are designed to prevent an avoidable collision. A runner may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate), or otherwise initiate an avoidable collision. The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner...
Type B Obstruction

Type B Obstruction

In recent columns I have focused on the subject of how poor visual skills leads to a variety of rules infractions such as passing the runner, interference, obstruction etc. In my previous column, I covered obstruction plays when there is a play being directly made on the runner such as a runner being obstructed during a rundown or when the batter-runner is obstructed before reaching first base. Playing under Pro and NCAA rules, these are known as Type A obstruction plays. Unless there is a thrown ball in flight before the obstruction is called, the ball is dead immediately and the runner is awarded the next base after the last base he legally touched. Playing under NFHS rules, the ball is always a delayed dead ball and the runner is guaranteed at least one base from the point of the infraction....
2017 Points of Emphasis

2017 Points of Emphasis

Last month we looked at the ASA and NFHS rules changes for 2017. Although there are a few changes to each code the new items are relatively minor in nature. As is often the case the Points of Emphasis can be more important to both umpires and the game than the actual rules changes. As we flip the calendar to 2017 let’s take look at the new POEs which are existing rules that the rules makers have identified as needing attention. For those who have to take an annual NFHS rules test you can count on being asked about these items. The points come from issues brought up from those involved in the game all across the country. For 2017, the NFHS has three emphasis items: Pitching, DP/Flex Education (this time called DP/Flex Simplified) and Uniforms. The first two of these are “repeats” from last year...
Awarding the Cycle - Part II

Awarding the Cycle - Part II

Hitting for the cycle is anomaly. On August 14, 2015 in a game against the Colorado Rockies, Matt Kemp became the first player in San Diego Padres’ history to accomplish the feat. All MLB teams have now had a player do it as least once. Last month, we began an examination of the acts by which umpires could award a cycle by rule by discussing awards of first base. Here are the ways two, three and four bases could be awarded to a batter. Two bases. There are two ways for a batter to get a two-base award and first is somewhat common – the erroneously named “ground rule double.” The award is in the rules and the ground rules are not a factor (NFHS 8-3-3c; NCAA 8-3o1; pro 5.05a6-8/6.09e-g, 5.06b4B/7.05f). The batter is awarded two bases is when his fair batted ball bounces and passes over, through...
NFHS and USA Softball Rules Changes for 2016

NFHS and USA Softball Rules Changes for 2016

It seems that each season goes by faster than the previous one.  While it’s hard to get used to the fact that 2017 is almost upon us, the rules changes adopted by both the National Federation and ASA/USA Softball are again going to be relatively easy for umpires to handle the coming season.   While there are a few more rules changes this year the new items are not in the “major” category and indications are that the rules makers of both organizations believe that their games are in good shape. The most significant NFHS changes relate to equipment and uniform changes. Umpires (and likely coaches and players as well) will most certainly welcome the change to Rule 3-2-15 which states that equipment to be inspected by the umpires, including all bats and helmets, shall be placed in a single location...