Top 10 Misunderstood
These ten rules have been selected as rules about which there
are many common misconceptions. These misconceptions then lead
to many forms of abuse whether it be heckling from the fans who
misunderstand (or don’t agree with) the rule, verbal abuse from
coaches and/or players, etc.
The Top 10 Misunderstood Rules in Softball Are:
Left Hand Turn from First
Award of Bases on
hitting Home Plate, First Base, Second Base or Third Base
on home plate or mat or directly in front of home plate or mat
bouncing out of play or off a defensive player
(Pitcher’s Circle) - Fast Pitch only
Difference between Interference /
1.Left hand turn
A runner forfeits his/her exemption from liability to be put out
if, after overrunning first base, he/she makes an attempt to run
to second base.
The key to this rule is to continue to second base. There must
be at least an attempt towards second base. It does not matter
which direction the batter-runner turns after reaching first
base if they are coming back to first base without attempting to
advance to second base.
If it is the plate umpire’s judgement that the batter made an
attempt to swing at the ball (but not a full swing), the plate
umpire shall call the pitched ball a strike. This call is NOT to
be appealed to the base umpire - use the guiding principle that
the plate umpire does not call it a strike unless he/she saw the
attempted swing - therefore no need for an appeal of what the
plate umpire saw.
However, if the batter attempted to swing at the ball but the
plate umpire did not see the attempt (perhaps blocked out by the
catcher) then a ball shall be called. With this call, the plate
umpire does have the opportunity to check with his/her base
umpire(s) with or without a request from the defensive team.
The plate umpire may make the request on their own or may
choose to make the request when requested to do so by the
defensive team. The key to the base umpire is that they shall
only answer a check swing request made by the plate umpire -
they do not respond to a request made directly to them by a
Should the base umpire see the attempt that the plate umpire
did not see, they shall respond by calling “yes” and the call
shall be changed from ball to strike.
3. Award of
bases on overthrow.
The common misconception with this rule is the old rule
of “one plus one,” a rule that was changed long ago. The correct
ruling is that when a thrown ball goes out of play (beyond the
established boundary lines of the playing field)
- all runners, including the batter-runner shall be awarded
two bases from the last base legally touched based on their
position at the time that the thrown ball left the fielder’s
- if there are two runners between the same bases, the award
is based on the position of the lead runner
Keys to remember with this rule:
- the award is based on their position at the time the throw
was made, not at the time that the ball went out of play -
watch for that very long overthrow from the outfield
- the award is two bases from the last base legally touched -
if a runner is returning to first base to tag up on a fly
ball, they will still be awarded two bases which is second
base and third base as the last base that they had legally
touched was first base
- The proper mechanics for this situation are to call “Dead
Ball” as soon as the ball goes out of play then award the
bases accordingly. Your award should be swift and decisive.
- With multiple runners or a long overthrow, if you have any
doubt consult with your fellow Umpire(s) immediately before
the award and get it right the first time.
Batted ball hitting home plate, first base, second base or third
- A batted ball remains alive and in play when it strikes home
plate: This is a common misconception - many, many years ago
when a batted ball struck home plate it was declared a dead
- In the event that a batted ball comes to rest on home plate,
it shall be ruled a fair ball and the plate umpire shall
- Remember, the fair/foul lines come to the back point of home
plate so the plate is completely in fair territory.
First or Third Base
- When properly installed, first and third base are positioned
on the diamond completely in fair territory. A smart Umpire
looks around between pitches to ensure this is always true.
- Once a batted ball strikes first or third base without
having been first touched by a player, the batted ball shall
be ruled a fair ball regardless of where the ball ends up.
- Once the ball touches first of third base it does not have
to pass the base, touching the base is all that is required to
make it a fair ball.
- The plate umpire should signal fair ball immediately once
the batted ball strikes the base
- Once a batted ball strikes second base without having been
first touched by a player, the batted ball shall be ruled a
Batter stepping on home plate or mat or directly in front of
home plate or mat.
Stepping on Home Plate or Mat
- the batter is out if any part of their foot is touching home
plate or touching the mat when the bat contacts the ball
- the ball is dead and runners may not advance on the play.
Stepping directly in front of Home Plate or Mat
- The batter is out if their foot is completely outside the
lines of the batter’s box and touching the ground when the bat
contacts the ball - therefore if the batter’s foot is
completely in front of home plate their foot is obviously
completely outside the lines of the batter’s box.
- The batter is out if their foot is completely in front or
behind the mat touching the ground when the bat contacts the
- The ball is dead and runners may not advance on the play.
Points of Emphasis:
- There is no penalty unless the batter makes contact with the
- The position of the foot must be judged at the time the bat
makes contact with the ball - if the foot is in the air and
then comes down on the ground after the ball is hit, there is
- With the exception of the foot touching home plate or
touching the mat, the foot must be completely outside the
lines of the batter’s box - touching any part of the lines is
acceptable as the lines are part of the box
- The same penalty applies whether the batted ball is fair or
foul - “Dead Ball” is called as soon as the batter makes
contact with the ball.
ball bouncing out of play or off a defensive player.
When a fair ball bounces out of play, including if it
deflects off a defensive player, the umpire shall declare “Dead
Ball” as soon as the ball goes out of play.
- All runners shall be awarded two bases.
- The award is based on their position at the time of the
pitch - not at the time that the ball went out of play.
- The award is the same regardless of where the ball actually
goes out of play.
- Be prepared that this rule could actually end up bringing
- A long rolling ground ball goes out of play and the batter
is already past second base - the batter goes back to second
- Same play, runner starting at first base is already past
third base and on their way to score when the batted ball goes
out of play, the runner is returned to third base.
7. Infield Fly.
Requirements for an Infield Fly:
- Runners on first and second base OR first, second and third
- Less than 2 out.
- Not a bunt.
- Not a line drive.
- Can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort this
includes the, pitcher, catcher or any outfielder positioned in
What should the umpire do?
- In an infield fly situation, prior to the first pitch of the
at bat, the umpires should give the infield fly signal to each
other. When it becomes apparent that a batted ball is an
infield fly (typically when the ball reaches its’ highest
point and is just on its’ way down) the plate umpire shall
declare “INFIELD FLY, IF FAIR - THE BATTER IS OUT”
Once an Infield Fly is declared:
- if the hit becomes a foul ball, no penalty, treat like any
other foul ball
- if the hit remains a fair ball
- the batter is out regardless of whether the ball is caught
- the ball remains alive
- the runners may advance at their own risk
- if the fly ball is caught, they must tag up
- if the fly ball is not caught, they can choose to advance
but as the batter has already been declared out there is no
(Pitcher’s Circle) - Fast Pitch only.
The Pitcher’s Circle is the area within an 8’ radius of the
pitcher’s plate - the lines are considered within the circle.
The common misconception is that if the ball is thrown back to
the pitcher and he/she has it in his/her position in the
pitcher’s circle before the batter-runner reaches first base
that the batter-runner must stop at first base.
Even though the ball may be in the pitcher’s possession in the
pitcher’s circle, the batter-runner may:
- continue past first base.
- is entitled to run toward second base, as long as he/she
does not stop at first base.
- once the runner makes a stop, he/she must immediately
proceed to the next base or return to his/her base UNLESS the
pitcher makes a play (including a fake throw) on the runner or
If the runner stops and simply stands there off the base while
the pitcher has possession of the ball in the pitcher’s circle
and no play is made - “DEAD BALL - RUNNER IS OUT - LEAD-OFF” If
the runner stops and then makes a move in more than one
direction immediately after the stop while the pitcher has
possession of the ball in the pitcher’s circle and no play is
made “DEAD BALL - RUNNER IS OUT - LEAD-OFF”
Points of Emphasis:
- The pitcher cannot force the first stop by a runner merely
by having possession of the ball in the pitcher’s circle. Put
another way - the runner is allowed one stop - as soon as
he/she stops he/she must make a decision immediately to either
advance or return.
- A play on the runner (including a fake throw) nullifies any
penalty - put another way, every fake throw allows the runner
one more stop.
9. Difference between
- Typically an act by an offensive player.
- Also possible to have umpire interference and spectator
- Results in “Dead Ball” being called (exception - umpire
- Results in an out if by an offensive player.
- Common misconception - catcher’s interference is actually
- Is an act by a defensive player.
- Results in a delayed dead ball.
- Award is determined at the end of the play (exception - if
the obstructed runner is called out)
- An obstruction call does not entitle the obstructed runner
to keep attempting to advance until played upon.
These two rules require:
- an immediate call when either interference or obstruction
occurs - do not hesitate, these are not the type of calls to
be made after the fact.
- A decisive call
Contact does not always mean interference or obstruction
occurred. There is such a thing as incidental contact - 2
players both unsure of where to go and contact is made. Rule
8.10(c) states that the runner is not out when more than one
fielder attempts to field a batted ball and the runner comes in
contact with the one who, in the umpire’s judgment, was not
entitled to field the ball.
TIP - when contact occurs and in the umpire’s judgment that
neither interference nor obstruction occurred, make a “SAFE”
signal with no verbal call - shows that you saw it and you made
your decision that no call was necessary.
10. Double Base.
The Double Base is used at first base with the orange portion
in foul territory and the white portion in fair territory.
Referring to 4. above - a batted ball striking the white/fair
portion is declared a fair ball, a batted ball striking the
orange/foul portion is declared a foul ball - a batted ball
striking the centre of the double base is declared a fair ball
as it therefore hits a portion of the white/fair portion of the
The defensive player (typically the first baseman) must use
only the white/fair portion of the base at all times. (see
The offensive player must use only the orange/foul portion of
the base on his/her first attempt at first base when a play is
being made on him/her. This includes when the batter-runner runs
on a dropped third strike. (see Exception below)
On a ball hit to the outfield with no play being made at first
base, the offensive player may touch either portion of the base
on his/her first attempt at first base.
Once an offensive player has touched the orange/foul portion of
the base on his/her first attempt at first base, he/she must
then use the white/fair portion of the base:
- when returning to the base after overrunning first base
- when taking his/her position prior to the next pitch
- when tagging up on a fly ball
Points of Emphasis:
- the defensive player - when he/she is required to use the
white/fair portion, provided any portion of his/her foot is
touching any portion of the white/fair portion of the base,
he/she is considered to be in contact with the base
- the offensive player - when he/she is required to use the
orange/foul portion, provided any portion of his/her foot is
touching any portion of the orange/foul portion of the base,
he/she is considered to be in contact with the base
- once the offensive player has made his/her first attempt at
first base, for simplicity sake the orange/foul portion of the
base no longer exists for him/her
Exception (introduced 2013)
- On any live ball play made from first base foul territory,
the batter-runner and the defensive player may use either
base. When the defensive player uses the foul portion of the
double base, the batter-runner can run in fair territory and
if hit by a throw from the foul side of first base, it would
not be interference (unless it is an intentional act like
throwing up their arms etc.)
- Allowing the first baseman to use the orange bag when a ball
comes from first base side of foul territory may avoid
collisions. It should be clear the runner or the fielder can
use either base on a ball fielded on the foul side of first
base. Both the runner and fielder could be touching the same
base. If the fielder uses the orange base in this situation
and the runner makes contact with the fielder it is
interference on the runner. If both players use the white
portion and the fielder causes the runner to hold up or change
direction it is obstruction on the fielder.