RULES FOR SOFTBALL FOR LONDON LEGAL SOFTBALL LEAGUE
1. What is Softball?
1.1 Softball was first played towards the end of the 19th century in America. It started out as a modified form of baseball, which could be played in a smaller area such as a small city lot, or indoors during the winter.
1.2 The main difference between the two sports is in the type of ball used. A softball is larger than a baseball, though still quite light, and it therefore cannot be hit nearly as far or as fast. This also means that the game is easier, though no less skilful to play.
1.3 Another difference between the two sports is in the way the ball is thrown (pitched) to the batter. In softball, it’s pitched underarm, and so it cannot reach the incredible speeds achieved by a good baseball pitcher.
1.4 This is not to say, however, that softball is in any way a “poor cousin” of baseball, or a kids’ game. It’s a full sport in its own right, and is played in America by many more adults than baseball. In fact, it’s the largest team-participation sport in the country.
2. London Legal Softball League
2.1 There are many different forms of softball, and many variations on the rules, but this booklet will only be concerned with the type of softball played within the London Legal Softball League.
2.2 One of the great joys of softball is that it can be picked up very easily. The basic rules are simple and the game is immediate, and immediately involving. You don’t need to train all week to be an adequate player and, because of the way the game is structured, everyone is involved at all times and there is a fast turnover of action. But although you can start playing pretty well straight away, you will still need to know the very basic rules, and that is what this booklet is supposed to teach you. We are assuming here that you know nothing about the game, so we are going to keep things as straightforward and simple as possible. We are not going to lay out all the rules by any means, a standard rule book is about fifty closely-typed pages, but if you start playing you’ll pick up the finer points as time goes by. We’ve repeated several points throughout, just to make things as clear and comprehensive as possible, so bear with us.
3. The Playing Area
3.1 The basics of softball are very simple, the same as any team bat and ball game. Someone throws a ball to a batter who then tries to hit it in such a way that they can run as far as possible before the ball is returned.
3.2 We have already explained that the act of throwing the ball to the batter is called PITCHING. The person who pitches is called the PITCHER.
3.3 So, now let’s have a look at the actual playing area, which obviously can’t be called a “pitch”, because that would get too confusing. It is in fact called a Diamond. This is because the central part of it is diamond-shaped.
3.4 The playing area is everything within the thick black lines (see diagram on PDF), similar to the boundary around a cricket pitch, or the foul lines of a football pitch. Everything within these lines is called FAIR TERRITORY, and everything outside is called FOUL TERRITORY. However, the diamond will not always be marked out, and sometimes you will have to imagine the foul lines. But this isn’t as difficult as it sounds, as will become apparent.
As a basic rule, the batter should try and hit the ball into fair territory.
4. The Teams
4.1 There are two teams of eleven players each in softball, who take it in turns to bat and field although only ten field at a time. A turn at bat is called an innings, and each team plays five innings.
4.2 The rule we play by is that at least 3 players per team must be female, one of whom must either pitch or catch. [LLSL Rule Clarification: a team may have a pitcher and a catcher who are both female but may not have a pitcher and a catcher who are both male.]
4.3 The batting team is called the OFFENSIVE TEAM, and the fielding team is called the DEFENSIVE TEAM.
4.4 LLSL Rule: Batting order
(a) So far as possible (and we all know players often turn up half way through the game) your batting order should be submitted to the other side’s captain prior to the game commencing.
(b) The batting order should have, at most, 11 entries on it, at least 3 of which must be taken up by females. If you have less than 11 players, the maximum number of entries on your batting order will be the number of players that you have present (i.e. no player can appear twice on a batting order). If you have more than 11 players, your batting order should have 11 entries on it, with certain entries, as determined by the team captain, being shared between two players (i.e. these players should alternate who bats when it becomes their entry’s turn in the order). A sample score sheet which caters for this will be provided and each captain should keep a score sheet and agree and note down the number of runs that have been scored after each inning.
(c) The batting order must be stuck to.
(d) Players who turn up after the beginning of a game should be added to the end of the batting order if you have less than 11 players present when they arrive. If you have more than 11 players present when a player arrives, he or she should be asked to share a spot with a player who is already listed on the batting order.
(e) Males and females must be listed on the batting order so that there can never be more than 3 males batting in a row. A typical 11 player batting order would look as follows:
(f) If you have less than the required 3 female players present but you have one or two female players, there shall be an automatic out in the batting order where a female player would have appeared and you will only be allowed to field with 8 players (if you have one female player) or 9 players (if you have two female players). If you have no female players, the opposition team will be given an automatic walkover but you may still agree to play a friendly (and the team with no female players may wish to consider switching aftershave or start using some).
All fielders should try and catch or stop any balls hit or thrown, with the basic aim of stopping any offensive players from running around the bases to home. But different fielders also have specific duties. (See Infield arid Outfield below and following diagram).
|Pitcher (P)||The pitcher pitches the ball to the batter from the pitcher’s plate, and then acts like any other fielder, catching or retrieving the ball.|
|Catcher (C)||The catcher stands behind the batter and returns all the balls to the pitcher which the batter misses. The catcher also guards homeplate against any incoming runners, and should cover all plays in the infield.|
|1st Base||This fielder stands near first base and guards it against runners.|
|2nd and 3rd Base (2&3)||Similar duties to first base. It is a common fault of inexperienced base fielders to stand on their base at all times; this is unnecessary and means they aren’t covering as much of the field as they could be – study the positions on the diagram. It only becomes necessary to touch your base if you are trying to get someone out at it. Furthermore, ANY fielder can cover ANY base, including home plate. It is second base’s main job to play at second base but if she/he is off base, anyone else may cover for them.|
|Shortstop (S)||The shortstop stands between second and third base and tries to catch or stop any ball hit towards the left-field. The shortstop is also in a good position to cover these two bases if it becomes necessary.|
Outfield positions are not so rigidly defined. The Team Captain or the Pitcher should position the outfielders wherever is appropriate for each different batter. But the rough positions are as follows.
|Left field (L)||Plays in the outer left-field (the outfield to your left as you stand to bat) and attempts to catch or stop, then return to the infield, any balls hit in his direction.|
|Centre field & Right field (CF & RF)||Similar duties to left field.|
|Short field (SH)||Should be in any position between the infielders and the outfielders (possibly different for each batter) where they think they will do the most good.|
The outfield must not over shift (i.e. overlap). This means that whilst the outfield can shift round according to the batter up’s strength it is not permissible to have overlapping lines of fielders in the outfield.
No infielder (other than the pitcher) is allowed within the diamond before the ball is hit and no outfielder is allowed within 30 feet of the diamond before a ball is hit.
Once an inning has started, players can not switch fielding positions and no substitutions can be made, with the following two exceptions:
(a) the pitcher can be substituted once in each inning; or
(b) in case of injury to a fielder.
8.1 Each defensive player, including the Pitcher, must wear a glove to catch the ball with. These gloves may seem cumbersome at first, and people who have played cricket, for instance, are often tempted not to use them. But, because of the size and weight of a softball it is painful and dangerous to try to catch it without a glove, so don’t be tempted.
8.2 Practise using the glove, catching the ball in the fingers rather than in the palm of the hand, and remembering not to rely on the glove to do everything for you. Close the fingers on the ball or it will bounce out. Also, you should cover your catching hand with your other hand in case the ball does pop out.
8.3 Another reason to practise with the glove is that it is worn on the weaker hand (ie if you are right-handed you should wear the glove on your left hand) and you will probably not be used to catching with this hand, but the reason for doing it this way round is so that the stronger hand will be left free for throwing.
8.4 Try and get some throwing practice as well, as it’s very tricky throwing such a large and relatively light ball.
9.1 There are two basic types of pitching in softball, FAST and SLOW. The LLSL plays SLOW PITCH. This means exactly what it says, the ball must be pitched slowly.
9.2 The pitcher must start at the plate, he may take one step forward but must keep one foot on the plate. The ball is lobbed underarm, and must have an arc of between 6 and 12 feet from the ground (see diagram on PDF). The trick is to use spin and/or a difficult or deceptive arc. It may look easy to hit at first, but a good pitcher can make it very awkward.
The batter will be standing at a five-sided plastic marker called the HOME PLATE, over some part of which the ball must pass. When the ball reaches the plate it must also pass between the batter’s knees and shoulders (when standing in a normal batting position) (see diagram on PDF).
NOTE: When the batter hits the ball, both feet must be inside the batter’s box. If not, the batter is OUT. [LLSL Rule Clarification: This will be discretionary and to be agreed upon at the time by captains following a warning by the designated umpire and in the good natured spirit of the League.]
10. Strikes and Balls
10.1 A pitched ball will be described as either a STRIKE or a BALL. Basically, a strike is a good pitch, and a ball is a bad one.
A good pitch…
MUST be pitched from the pitcher’s plate.
MUST have an arc of between six and twelve feet off the ground.
MUST pass between the batter’s knees and shoulders.
MUST NOT be too fast.
MUST NOT land on the plate.
10.2 If a pitch does not fulfil all of the above requirements, you should MAKE NO ATTEMPT to hit it. As long as you don’t try to hit it, the pitch is considered bad, and the umpire will call it a BALL.
10.3 If the pitcher pitches four balls (ie four bad pitches which the batter makes no attempt to hit) then the batter will have the choice as to whether he wants to face any more pitches (running the risk of being struck out) or whether he enforces a walk to first base.
10.4 If the pitch is good, it is called a STRIKE, whether the batter manages to hit it or not, even if the batter DOESN’T TRY TO HIT IT AT ALL.
10.5 As mentioned before, a pitch either (i) out of the strike zone or (ii) not over the 6 foot arc is a foul pitch, or a BALL, and should not be swung at by the batter. But, if the batter does swing at it and either misses or hits a foul, it is then considered to be a STRIKE.
10.6 If as a batter you hit any pitch into foul territory you are not allowed to run but a STRIKE will still be called against you.
10.7 If THREE STRIKES are called against you and you haven’t managed to hit the ball into fair territory you are declared to be STRUCK OUT. In other words, three strikes and the batter is OUT.
10.8 It should be clear from this that judging whether or not the pitch is good is a vital skill that a batter must learn, because it is foolish to swing at bad pitches. As a general rule, though, if you are standing at right angles to the pitcher, square to the plate, neither too close nor too far from it (you should be able to touch the far corner of the plate comfortably with the end of the bat), then you can easily feel whether a pitch is going good. If it seems easy to hit without having to radically adjust your position, then it’s probably a good pitch. If it seems awkward or difficult to hit then it is probably going foul and should be left.
10.9 On 2 strikes: one free foul and then out on next foul.
10.10 If at any point, though, you hit the ball and it goes FAIR, then you MUST RUN, you have no choice. You must drop the bat and attempt to reach at least first base, and then any other bases you feel it is safe to try for. You must run around the bases, touching every one in the correct order, anti-clockwise, before you choose to stop or are stopped by a defensive player.
10.11 So, to make things clear: A STRIKE WILL BE CALLED, AND THE BATTER CANNOT RUN, IF….
It is a fair pitch and the batter makes no attempt to hit it.
It is a fair pitch and the batter tries, but fails, to hit it.
It is a foul pitch and the batter tries, but fails, to hit it.
It is either a fair or a foul pitch which the batter hits into foul territory or out of play.
10.12 THREE STRIKES AND THE BATTER IS OUT
10.13 A BALL WILL BE CALLED IF… It is out of the strike zone and the batter makes no attempt to hit it.
FOUR BALLS AND THE BATTER HAS THE CHOICE OF WHETHER TO WALK TO THE FIRST BASE OR FACE MORE PITCHES (RUNNING THE RISK OF BEING STRUCK OUT).
10.14 THE BATTER MUST RUN IF…
It is a fair pitch and the batter hits it into fair territory.
It is a foul pitch and the batter hits it into fair territory.
10.15 Intentional bunting is not permitted in the LLSL and will be an automatic out.
10.16 Drop the bat after you have hit the ball and you start your run to 1st base. Do not under any circumstances throw the bat behind you. This is dangerous for the catcher and for the umpire and can, at the umpire’s discretion, be given as an automatic out.
11. A Note on Fair and Foul Territory
Sometimes a ball will land in fair territory and then roll foul, and sometimes a ball will land in foul territory and roll fair.
(a) If the ball lands in the INFIELD (before the bases) and then rolls foul, it’s considered foul.
(b) If the ball lands in the OUTFIELD (after the bases) and then rolls foul, it’s considered fair.
(c) If the ball lands foul and rolls into the INFIELD (before the bases) it is considered FOUL.
(d) If the ball lands foul (anywhere) and rolls into the OUTFIELD it is considered foul.
12.1 So, you’ve hit the ball. The first thing you must watch out for is catches. As in games like cricket, if a defensive player catches the ball before it hits the ground, and keeps control of it, the batter is out, even if the ball is caught in foul territory. Any ball caught in the out of play zone is not an out.
12.2 The only exception to this rule is if the ball is caught by the catcher. The batter is only out if the ball passes above the batter’s shoulders.
12.3 A ball hit into the air which can easily be caught is called a FLY-BALL.
12.4 Pop fouls to the catcher: If a pop-up is hit over the batter’s head and the catcher catches the ball, the batter is out. Anything less than the height of the batter’s head is only a foul ball.
13.1 If the ball isn’t caught by anyone, and it lands fair, then you try to run round as many bases as possible. You have now become a BASE-RUNNER. But here you must be careful, because the next way you can be out is by being TAGGED.
13.2 As a base-runner you aren’t safe until you’re touching a base. If, at any point, you are touched with the ball by a fielder and you aren’t safely in contact with a base, you are OUT. This is called TAGGING OFF (base).
The only exception to this rule in a dead-ball situation. Note that the previous LLSL rule about not being able tag off a runner on his way to first base has been scrapped on safety grounds as it has occasionally lead to throws having to be made from the pitcher to 1st base more or less aimed at the back of the head of the runner trying to get to 1st base.
To explain further:
(a) After you have hit the ball, you are allowed to overrun first base. This is to say that once you have touched it you can run past it. Everywhere else, you must stay touching your base once you reach it. It is no good just to touch it and overrun, because you can then be tagged off.
Once you’ve stopped at a base, and all play has also stopped, you are not allowed to leave that base again until the ball, when pitched, has passed over home plate.
(b) The prime example of a dead-ball situation is when the batter hits the ball into foul territory or out of play. The ball is now considered dead, and no play can take place, so, if you’ve left your base you are allowed to walk back to it in safety and wait for the next pitch.
13.3 Another example of a dead-ball is on an overthrow. Before a match a dead-ball line will be established, usually about twenty feet into foul territory. If a ball is thrown past this line by a defensive player during play, then the ball is considered dead and any base runners are allowed to walk IN SAFETY to the base they were attempting, plus one more. If they were standing on a base they will be awarded the next base round.
13.4 There are a few other types of dead-ball, but these two are the most frequent.
14. Base Tagging
14.1 The most common way of being tagged out, however, is by being BASE TAGGED, which we shall now explain.
14.2 Once you’ve hit the ball fair, you are forced to run to first base, you have no choice. You are not considered safe until you reach it. If any defensive player takes hold of the ball and touches the base (with any part of his body, or with the ball itself) before you do, then you are base tagged and are out. The same conditions apply at all bases to which you are forced to run.
14.3 So, if you hit the ball fair, you are FORCED to run to first. And if a fielder reaches the base with the ball before you do, you are out.
15.1 Now we’ll look at what happens if you make it to first base safely and someone else goes up to bat. You are now a BASE-RUNNER. We have already pointed out several rules that apply to base runners:
You can only run to the next base if the batter has a good hit.
If the batter hits into foul territory you cannot run.
If the batter swings and misses you cannot run.
You can only run when the batter does. There is no stealing in the LLSL.
The runner’s foot must be on the base until a ball is hit. The captain should be aware that it is within the other side’s captain’s right to ask that player to be removed from the game if he persistently attempts to steal bases. (Those who do should really try to find themselves a place on a baseball side!)
15.2 If you run off a base and then a foul hit is called, you cannot be tagged off; you can return to your base in no danger as there is no play.
On an overthrow ie OUT OF PLAY (see diagram on page 2) you are awarded the next base (plus one if you were already running).
15.3 Okay, so let’s see what happens when the batter goes for the ball and hits it fair. The batter is now forced to run, and as you are only allowed one base runner on a base at a time, you are also, therefore, forced to run.
15.4 The defensive team now has a choice of two possible outs, you or the batter. They can go for either of you or, if they are feeling ambitious, both of you. And remember, you can now be tagged out in either of the two ways we have discussed. You can be physically tagged with the ball by one of the defensive team, or they can tag the base you are running to.
15.5 If you reach both your bases safely, then another batter comes up and the same conditions apply again. This happens all the way round until you, hopefully, arrive home safely. And remember, you can try for as many bases as you want in any one go.
15.6 LLSL Clarification: Missed bases For a run to be scored the player must have touched all four bases. It is inevitable that sometimes (particularly in the case of beginners) that the bases are not touched, usually inadvertently. A certain amount of self-regulation is required.
It is up to the opposing captain (and ONLY the opposing captain) to mention that a player has missed a base and try to reach some agreement as to whether the run in question should or should not be given. The player concerned should have the rule explained to him carefully. Second “Offences” should result in the player being given out (with no run scored).
15.7 If there is a runner on a base, it is called a LOADED base. If there is a runner on every base then you say that “The bases are loaded”.
16. Unforced Rules
16.1 The conditions for a base-runner slightly alter if you get into the situation of an UNFORCED RUN.
16.2 In the examples above, you have been forced to run because there have been runners on all the bases behind you, so if the batter has hit fair you have no choice. However, this won’t always be the case.
16.3 Say on your own hit you reach SECOND BASE safely. Now, when the next batter runs you don’t have to leave the base, because there is a space for them at first base. In this instance you have the choice whether to run or not – if you do choose to go for it, it is called an unforced run.
16.4 Similarly, if you are on third and there is an empty base behind you at either first or second, any running you do is once again unforced. It doesn’t matter if there is a runner on the base directly behind you and the space is behind them – neither of you are forced to run.
16.5 So, to make things clear:
(a) YOU ARE FORCED TO RUN IF THE BATTER HITS THE BALL FAIR AND IS NOT CAUGHT OUT, AND:
You are the batter trying for first base.
You are on first base.
You are on second or third base, and ALL of the bases behind you are LOADED.
Once you pass first base you are no longer forced, as there is no-one behind you (see below).
If someone is base tagged behind you, then there is now an empty base and so you are no longer forced. This also applies if the batter is tagged at first, and you are running to second. In this instance, you are no longer forced (see below).
(b) YOU ARE NOT FORCED TO RUN, BUT MAY DO SO IF YOU CHOOSE IF THE BATTER HITS THE BALL FAIR AND:
You are the batter and you run past first.
Someone is base-tagged behind you.
You are on the second or third base, and ANY of the bases behind you are unoccupied.
If you are ON any base, whether the other bases are loaded or not, and the batter is caught out (more about this rule later).
16.6 If you are UNFORCED, then you cannot be BASE-TAGGED, the defensive team must TAG YOU OFF with the ball. This is because you can turn round and run back if you want.
16.7 Obviously, as object of the game is for the offensive team to get as many people home as possible, you will try and run whenever you can, and as far as you can. But there will be occasions where it is wise not to run if you’re not forced to. Obviously, as object of the game is for the offensive team to get as many people home as possible, you will try and run whenever you can, and as far as you can. But there will be occasions where it is wise not to run if you’re not forced to.
So remember, as long as you are touching a base you are safe, but the moment you leave it you are no longer safe and can be tagged off.
16.8 You can be tagged out if the ball arrives before you do, at a base to which you are FORCED to run.
16.9 There is a great deal of skill in base-running, and a good runner can make up a lot of ground off a not very spectacular hit by paying attention right up to the point when the ball is returned to the pitcher and all play must cease. Look for your changes, watch out for fielding errors or stupid throws, make the defensive team work, make them go for the plays. If the play is elsewhere on the field then run when no-one is paying any attention to you. NEVER GIVE UP UNTIL PLAY FINISHES, PAY ATTENTION AT ALL TIMES.
17.1 Remember that you can be tagged off any base (except first, which you are allowed to overrun). So if you’ve reached a base and you want to stay there you must stay in contact with it, you can’t run past it then stroll back. Obviously, if you’re sprinting it is very difficult to stop dead, but one way of managing this is to slide into the base along the ground, so that you come to rest at the base (don’t leave your slide too late).
17.2 Another reason to slide might be to go in under a defensive player’s hand, if he is trying to tag you on an unforced play.
17.3 LLSL Special Rule: No sliding to first base. This is to encourage the use of safety bases. Any sliding into other bases should be done in a controlled manner and any slide that is deemed to be dangerous or unnecessary should lead to an automatic out.
18.1 A FLY BALL is a ball that a batter hits up into the air and is a potential catch. Base-runners must watch out for them. More inexperienced base-runners are out through not paying attention to fly balls than by almost any other means. So pay attention to the following rules.
18.2 When a ball is in flight it could end up anywhere, fair, foul, out of play or caught. A base-runner can leave his base as soon as a pitched ball is hit, and we’ve already explained that if the batter misses it or hits it foul the base-runners are allowed to walk back to their bases with no threat of being tagged off, but if the ball is caught the situation is very different.
18.3 If the ball is caught, in either fair or foul territory (i.e. not in the out of play zone), the batter is OUT, and if any base-runner has left their base they MUST RETURN to it before doing anything else, but in this instance they aren’t safe. They can be tagged off the base, or base tagged.
I REPEAT: If the batter hits fly ball, and you leave your base and the ball is caught, YOU MUST RETURN TO YOUR BASE BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE. This is called TAGGING UP.
18.4 Before you’ve tagged up, you can be base tagged at the base you have just left, or you can be tagged off by someone touching you with the ball.
18.5 However, once you’ve safely tagged up you can then choose if you want to try for the next base again. And if you saw the catch coming and never left the base in the first place, you have obviously already tagged up, and can run any time after the ball has been caught.
18.6 So, watch out for fly balls. Go a little way off your base to give yourself the chance to get back if you need to, or forward if there is no catch, and watch the ball. If it’s caught, then you must tag up before anything else; if it’s not, then you can run from where you are. It’s no good seeing a massive high hit and then running like mad for home, because if it’s caught you’ve got to get all the way back to the base from which you started and you will invariably be out. If, however, you do get back safely or if you have waited at the base until after the ball has been caught, you are then free to run if you want.
18.7 Similarly, if you’re a defensive player and you take a catch don’t hold on to it or show off like a cricketer, because play is still going on and if the base runners tag up they can then run, and if they don’t tag up you can get them out.
18.8 So PAY ATTENTION at all times. Any number of players can be got out on one ball, in many combinations of ways. Two players out on one ball is called a DOUBLE PLAY and three players out is called a TRIPLE PLAY. And so on.
19. The Match
19.1 I’ll just sum everything up here and then explain exactly how a proper game is played.
19.2 There are two teams of ten fielders (plus one spare person called a designated Hitter who bats but does not field – you can take it in turns to sit out the fielding). Of the 10 fielding players at any one time at least 3 must be female. (If you have to play with less than 11, then 3 of the team must still be female). The two teams take it in turns to play 5 innings. An innings is over when three of the offensive (batting) team are out, by whatever means.
19.3 A fixed batting order must be drawn up before the game and must be stuck to throughout, in strict rotation. That is to say, you don’t return to the top of the order with each innings, but carry on from the last batter out. (The player up after the 11th man is therefore player number 1). If you are out, nevertheless keep your place in the order and go up to bat again when it’s your turn – one player can be out any number of times.
19.4 One point is scored for every player who reaches home safely, there are no extra points for a home run (a big hit that gets the batter round in one go), but if all the bases are loaded and all the runners get home safely, they all count. The maximum number of points that can be scored off a single hit, therefore, is four, ie when a home run is hit when the bases are loaded.
LLSL Rule Clarification. Where a runner makes it to home base but the third batter is out at any base to which he is forced to run (and therefore the innings closes), the run does not count.
19.5 Any number of people can be out on a single ball (though of course there is no need to get more than three). The main ways of being out are as follows:
(a) STRUCK OUT
The batter swings and misses.
The batter hits the ball into foul territory with 2 strikes.
The batter makes no attempt to swing at a good pitch.
(b) CAUGHT OUT
The batter hits the ball and it is caught by any defensive player, except the catcher, before it touches the ground.
The batter hits the ball above their shoulders and it is caught behind by the catcher before it hits the ground.
(c) TAGGED OFF
A defensive player touches a base-runner off-base with the hand holding the ball. Remember, if the ball is caught all base runners must tag up, and can be tagged off in the attempt.
(d) BASE TAGGED
A defensive player is in control of the ball and touching a base which a forced runner has to reach.
The same applies at home plate.
An unforced runner cannot be out in this way, he must be tagged off (see above).
A base runner will be given out if he deliberately obstructs a defensive player, or if he runs off the base path to avoid being tagged off. The base path is an imaginary narrow strip between the bases, (LLSL Clarification: Base path = approx 1.5-2 metres wide); you cannot weave all over the pitch to try and escape being tagged out.
LLSL Clarification: Where a fielder is not actually fielding the ball, they must remove themselves from the path of the base runner.
19.6 LLSL Rule: Draws – If at the end of 5 innings a match is drawn it shall stand as a draw and no further play-off, coin toss or other means of determining a winner is required by these rules. If at the end of the season two or more teams are tied on points (2 for a win, 1 for a draw) the finishing order shall be decided by looking at the results of games played between the tied teams. In the event of irreconcilable differences the method of determination shall be decided by the LLSL Committee as appropriate. In the event of a draw at the end of 5 innings in a play off match, the match should go to extra innings if time (and light) permits it to do so. If you run out of light without a winner having been declared, the match should be determined on a count back whereby the team that scored the most runs in the 5th inning wins and if that does not give a winner then the team that scored the most runs in the 4th inning wins and so on until there is a clear winner. If this does not give a winner (e.g. in the unlikely event of a 0-0 draw), a coin shall be flipped to determine a winner. Note that the previous LLSL rule of the winning team being the one that reached the tied score first has been scrapped as it clearly favours the team that bats first.
20. OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER
20.1 You must touch every base, and home-plate, as you pass it, and remain touching if you wish to stay there.
20.2 If the pitcher pitches four “balls” and the batter makes no attempt to hit them he has the choice of whether to walk to first base, and any runner directly ahead of him would be shunted round one base; if the bases are loaded a run will therefore be scored, as the man on third base will walk home.
20.3 After a ball is hit, play finishes when the ball is returned to the pitcher in the vicinity of his pitching-plate, all base runners have reached a base and time is called. If the pitcher has the ball and a runner is still making a play he must finish it, ie reach a base. However, the pitcher might then decide to throw the ball to one of his team in order to try to get the runner out – play is then back on.
20.4 But, as we said, once the pitcher has the ball and no runner is off a base, then all play stops. The base runners must stay where they are until the next pitched ball passes over home plate.
20.5 Play also stops, obviously, when three players are out. So, if you are fielding you must be wary at all times and not do anything rash or lazy, otherwise experienced runners will run rings around you in your confusion. Never relax and remember that play only finishes when all of the above conditions apply.
20.6 The winning team is that with the most number of runs at the bottom of the last innings. A game will usually last five innings.
20.7 That, then, is a very basic guide to softball; there are many more rules and much more to learn. But the best way to do that is to play, which this booklet should enable you to do.