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Rules (Softball)

General Rules

Duties Each league has a coordinator who is the main point of contact for coaches. The coordinator is responsible for player assessments and draft selection (Minors, Majors and Seniors), setting up teams (Little Juniors and Juniors), scheduling practices and games, recordkeeping and other team-related issues. Coordinators work with the SYA House Commissioner and other members of the SYA Softball Board on behalf of their coaches to resolve any issues that may arise.
Player Placement Player eligibility is determined by the rules of each individual league. A committee of three Softball Board members resolves issues that arise regarding player eligibility (particularly with regard to playing up or down in age group). That committee will generally be comprised of the Player Development Coordinator and the affected League Coordinators, but may also include other Board members as necessary.
Requests In setting up teams, League Coordinators attempt to meet reasonable team placement requests. Some requests may not be fulfilled in the interests of ensuring that teams are as competitive as possible.
Late Registrations Every effort is made to keep the number of players on teams equal. Players who register after teams are established will be placed on a team in accordance with league needs.
Draft Drafting of players will conform to the drafting procedures adopted by the Softball Board. Players who do not attend the draft will be placed in a manner similar to a Late Registration.
Schedule Changes Once practice and game schedules are distributed, requests for changes must be made to the League Coordinator at least two weeks in advance. The times and locations of games and practices are determined by availability of fields. Any reasonable scheduling requests will be taken into consideration.
Rain-outs League Coordinators are responsible for rescheduling rained out games, as necessary. Rained out games must be rescheduled as quickly as possible and may require the cancellation of a practice to provide a time slot for the game. A team that requests, but does not make up, a rescheduled game will forfeit the game in question. All reasonable consideration will be given to each team regarding rescheduling of games. At the discretion of the SYA Board, some games may not be rescheduled due to issues such as field availability, tournament schedules, etc.
Start of Game
ASA Rules ASA Junior Olympic rules are followed unless altered by these General Rules or individual League Rules.
Precedence of Rules In the event of a conflict in any of the rules, the following will determine the precedence of each set of rules:

The Umpire Guide(s) are provided as reference only. These guides shall never take precedence over any set of SYA Softball Board approved and published rules.

Approved Inter-League Rules shall govern all Inter-League play.

Warm-ups All games must start promptly at the scheduled game time. Team warm-ups should be conducted off the field of play unless time permits on-field warm-ups and each team can share the field equitably.
Home Team Home and visiting teams and game times are noted on schedules. Unless noted otherwise, the second team listed on the schedule is the Home team. The home team takes the third base bench for each game.
Field Preparation The home team is responsible for preparing the field for play, including lining the field and making field repairs. Supplies are located in equipment boxes and sheds adjacent to the fields. Both teams are responsible for cleaning their respective bench areas after the game. The visiting team is responsible for cleaning up the field, including filling in holes, after the game. Parents are expected to volunteer to help perform these duties.
Game Balls Home teams must supply a new ball for each game and the visiting team must supply a good backup ball. Game balls are supplied to teams at the beginning of the season. The umpire should return game balls to each team after the game.
Player Issues
Uniforms Players are expected to wear league-supplied uniforms during the game. Coaches can bench any player who repeatedly fails to wear her uniform to a game. Shirttails must be tucked into pants. In cold weather, jackets and sweatshirts can be worn over the uniform. While wristbands and batting gloves are permitted, scarves, bandannas, and sweatbands are not.
Jewelry Jewelry cannot be worn on the field at any time, with the exception of starter earrings, which must be completely covered by tape. Be advised that some umpires may demand that starter earrings be removed.
Blood Rule The ASA blood rule is enforced. A player with any visible blood on herself or her uniform will not be permitted to play until the bleeding is stopped and any visible blood is covered with bandages or tape.
Game Issues
Forfeits A team is required to field 9 (or 10 depending on Individual League Rules) players at all times during the game whenever eligible players are available. A team may not field less than 7 players at any time during the game (see exception below). A five-minute grace period will be given to a team with less than 7 players at the designated start of a game. A team that cannot field a minimum number of players at game time or falls below the minimum during the game will forfeit the game. Exception: if a team only has 7 players and one is injured during the game, that team may continue play with 6 players. Teams are encouraged to play a practice game if a forfeit condition should arise. Note, however, that ASA umpires are not obligated to officiate practice games.In inter-league play, there will be no forfeits. Coaches are encouraged to play the game by sharing players.
A coach, who knows of an impending forfeiture, should notify the other team and the League Coordinator at least 48 hours before the scheduled game time. SYA can cancel an umpire up to two hours before game time, but is obligated to pay for umpires when we fail to properly notify them.
Bad Weather
Notification If bad weather conditions exist, coaches will be notified of cancellations. If fields are not closed prior to two hours before game time, teams are expected to show up at their field.
Assessing Field Conditions Once teams arrive at the field, the ASA umpire determines whether to cancel the game. In the Little Juniors, Juniors and Minors, the two coaches involved make this determination. In the Minors in the spring, the SYA umpire will make the decision on whether to cancel the game if the two coaches are in disagreement. Common sense and player safety must be taken into consideration when determining if a game should be played.When thunder or lightning is heard or seen, stop the game and seek shelter immediately. Allow 30 minutes to pass after the last sound of thunder or lightning strike before resuming the game. For more information on assessing lightning conditions, check out the ASA Guidelines for Lightning Safety.
Play of the Game
Time Limit In Minors, Majors and Seniors, no new inning will start after 1 hour and 30 minutes. In Juniors, no new inning will start after 1 hour and 20 minutes. Exception: if a minimum of 3 innings (2-1/2 innings if the home team is ahead) have not been played, then the game will continue until the official number of innings have been completed (weather and daylight permitting; this rule does not apply to Little Juniors). When an inning has started within the above time frames, the inning will be completed. Umpires and coaches must agree on the start time of the game before the first pitch is made; scorekeepers should note the start time in their scorebooks. The home team will maintain the official scorebook. The visiting team scorekeeper should check periodically with the home team scorekeeper to ensure both books are in agreement. In the fall season, keeping score is optional; no standings are maintained in the fall. For the Little Juniors, there will be no new batter after 1 hour and 10 minutes or until at least 2 innings have been played and every player has batted at least twice.
Inning Limit A game will consist of 7 innings, if time permits, 6 innings for Little Juniors and Juniors. A game can end in a tie, unless it is a tournament game.
Official Game A game is considered official when 3 innings are completed (2-1/2 innings if the home team is ahead).
Official Score
and Outcome
If a game is called before the completion of an inning due to weather or darkness, the score reverts back to the last complete inning to determine the outcome of the game. However, if the home team is at bat and winning when the game is called, the score at that time is the final score.
Run Limit In the first 5 innings, a maximum of 5 runs per inning can be scored. In the 6th and 7th innings a maximum of 10 runs can be scored. For Little Juniors, there are no run limitations.
Speed Up Rule Coaches are expected to keep the game moving quickly. To minimize down time between innings, catchers should put on their equipment before the last out is recorded. Coaches are strongly encouraged to pull their catcher from a base when there are two outs so she can put on her equipment. The last player to make an out will be the substitute runner.
Batting Out
of Order/Injuries
All eligible players must be included in the batting line-up and they must bat in the order listed in the official scorebook. If an injured player taken out of the game cannot bat, the batting position is passed over and no out is recorded. The coach must notify the official scorekeeper and the opposing coach that a player is being skipped before a pitch is thrown to the next batter in the line-up; otherwise, the ASA rule on batting out of order will be enforced by the umpire.
Courtesy Runner An injured runner (a player who is injured while running the bases) can be substituted with the player who made the last out, without penalty.
Bunting Bunting is allowed in all leagues except the Little Juniors and Juniors.
Maximum Number of Defensive Players In intra-SYA games (except Little Juniors, Juniors and Minors), a maximum of 9 players can play on defense. In inter-league games, where the opposing league allows 10 players on defense (four outfielders), SYA teams may play 9 or 10 players at the SYA coach’s option. See Little Juniors, Juniors and Minors League rules for the maximum number of defensive players in those leagues.
Defensive Rotation All coaches are strongly encouraged to rotate their players through many defensive positions during a game. In the Majors and Seniors, each player must play at least one inning in the infield. In the Little Juniors, Juniors and Minors, each player must play one inning in the outfield for every two innings in the infield.
Playing Time
To maintain equal defensive playing time, a player cannot sit out a second inning (injuries excepted) until all other players on the team have sat out at least one inning. (Example: in the fifth inning, a coach cannot sit out a player for her second inning and continue to play someone who has not sat out a complete inning.) Coaches should prepare defensive playing charts for each inning to ensure they do not violate this rule. Both scorekeepers should keep a record of players sitting out.
Violation of Playing Time Rule When a scorekeeper or coach brings a violation of this rule to the attention of the opposing coach, and both coaches agree a violation has occurred, the offending coach must immediately correct the situation by placing the appropriate player(s) in the field as a substitute(s) for the player(s) who have not sat out an appropriate amount of time. No protest can be made if the violation is corrected.
Protest over
Playing Time Rule
If a coach does not agree a violation of this rule has occurred, the coach may continue play without substitution, and the opposing coach may register a protest with the League Coordinator within 24 hours.
and Board Role
Scorebooks and defensive playing charts will be used by a Protest committee (see below) to determine if a violation has occurred. If the committee determines that a violation occurred, the offending team will forfeit the game. A violation of the playing time rule, whether protested or not, should be brought to the attention of the League Coordinator. The Softball Board will address repeated violations by the same coach.
Player Substitution
After the first pitch of an inning is thrown, all defensive players must remain in the game for the entire inning, unless injured. Exception: in the last inning of the game, a player who has played as many or more innings than any other player on the team may have a substitute enter the game for her during the inning. A pitcher who is replaced during an inning must continue to play in the field and will be credited with one complete inning of play and one complete inning of pitching.
Look Back Rule The Look Back rule is in effect at all levels of play except Little Juniors and Juniors. In the Junior League, an offending runner should be returned to the base she should properly occupy before the violation occurred. A liberal interpretation of this rule should be used at the Junior and Minor League levels. The Look Back rule states that, when the pitcher has possession of the ball within the 8’ radius circle and is not making a play on a runner, a runner must immediately return to her base or proceed to the next base, without hesitation, or be liable to be called out by the umpire. No runner may leave a base when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the circle and is not making a play on a runner. If the circle is not marked, the umpire will approximate the circle radius when making this judgment call. Exception: when a batter receives a walk, runners on second or third can remain off their bases until the batter-runner reaches first base. As soon as the batter-runner reaches first base and the pitcher has the ball in the circle, the other runners must return to their base or commit to the next base.
Infield Fly Rule The Infield Fly rule is in effect in the Majors and Seniors. The rule applies when there are less than two outs and runners are on first and second or on first, second and third. If a fly ball is hit which can be caught by an infielder, the umpire should call “infield fly.” The batter is automatically out whether the ball is caught or not. If the ball is near foul territory, the proper call is “infield fly, if fair.” If it is determined to be a foul ball, the batter is out only if the ball is caught. Runners can advance on an infield fly whether the ball is caught or not. If the ball is caught, they must tag up before advancing to the next base. If the ball is not caught, they may advance without tagging up. The application of this rule is a judgment call by the umpire; if the umpire does not call “infield fly” the rule is not in effect and runners advance or remain at a base at their own risk.
Dropped 3rd
Strike Rule
The Dropped Third Strike rule is in effect in the Majors and Seniors. In the Juniors and Minors, a batter is out on a third strike even if the catcher drops the ball.
Pitching Rules Coaches are encouraged to develop and use as many pitchers as possible. Therefore, the number of innings a pitcher can pitch in a game will be limited. See individual League Rules for pitching limitations.
Warm-up Pitches Pitchers are allowed 3 warm-up pitches between innings and for a pitching change. Coaches must warm up pitchers between innings if the catcher is not ready. An umpire may reduce the number of warm-up pitches if the catcher or a coach does not immediately begin to warm up the pitcher. Also, see Speed-up Rule above.
Conferences A coach may have one conference with a pitcher per inning. A second conference with the same pitcher in the same inning requires the coach to replace the pitcher.
Hit By Pitcher
not Automatic
A player hit by a pitch will not automatically be awarded first base. If no clear attempt is made to avoid the pitch, and, in the umpire’s judgment, the player could have avoided the pitch, then the player will not be awarded first base. For safety reasons all coaches should instruct their players to try to avoid being hit by a pitch.
Batter Interference Batters can be called out for interfering with a play at home plate. The runner will be returned to third base if interference is called.
Stealing Stealing is allowed in the Minors, Majors and Seniors. See individual League Rules for the specific variation of the rule for each league.
Base runners are required to avoid collisions with fielders. While sliding into a base is not required, it is often the best way to avoid a collision. Runners cannot be called out for causing a collision if they slide into a base.
Obstruction Fielders must avoid obstructing the progress of baserunners. If a fielder, not in possession of the ball or not about to field a thrown or batted ball, interferes with the progress of a runner, the umpire may award that runner extra base(s). This is a judgment call.
Out of Play
Coaches and umpires should review out of play areas prior to the start of the game. When a hit or thrown ball goes out of play, runners advance as follows: if a thrown ball goes out of play, all runners advance two bases from their position at the time the ball left the thrower’s hand; if a fair batted ball rolls out of play, the runners advance two bases from their position at the time the ball left the pitcher’s hand; if a pitched ball goes out of play, all runners advance one base.
Coaches and players are not permitted to smoke on the field or in the player dugouts. Any player, coach or spectator who arrives at a practice or game with alcohol, drugs or weapons of any kind, will be suspended for the remainder of the season.
like Conduct
Coaches are required to maintain control of their players and players’ family members. Unsportsmanlike conduct by a player or family member will subject that individual to ejection from the playing area. A person ejected from the field cannot remain at or near the ball field. If an ejected person fails to leave the area, the team the person is associated with will forfeit the game. All players, parents, and coaches must promote good sportsmanship at all times. Any problems during a game or practice must be reported to the League Coordinator.
Protests A protest must be brought to the attention of the umpire and the opposing coach at the time of the perceived infraction and reported to the League Coordinator, in writing (email), within 24 hours. Remember: a coach cannot protest an umpire’s judgment call. A committee of three Softball Board members, generally including the League Coordinator will review protests. No Board member may sit on a Protest committee if that would present a clear conflict of interest (e.g., the League Coordinator is a coach or parent with a vested interest in the outcome).The decision of the Protest committee will be final.
Duties One umpire is required to start the game. If more than one umpire, the lead umpire will be stationed behind home plate and will determine how responsibilities will be divided between the umpires. The lead umpire determines the final decision of a play if both umpires make a call on the same play.
of Umpires
Except in the Little Juniors and Juniors, the league supplies umpires. The Minors use youth umpires in the spring and parents in the fall; the Majors and Seniors use ASA umpires. In the Juniors, the home team must supply a parent to umpire behind home plate and the visiting team must supply a field umpire. In the Little Juniors, coaches should serve as the umpires.
Conduct Any umpire can make mistakes. Coaches must ensure that all individuals associated with their team (coaches, players, family members) conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively on their team and the SYA Softball program.
Any perceived deficiencies in umpiring should be reported, in writing, to the League Coordinator, especially umpire no-shows. If an umpire does not show, the teams must play the game using parent volunteers as umpires. The home team should supply a parent to umpire behind home plate and the visiting team should supply a field umpire. Notify the League Coordinator that parent umpire(s) were used because the assigned umpire did not show up.
Reporting Game Results
Game Score For the spring season only, except in the Little Juniors, it is the responsibility of the winning coach to report the game score to the League Coordinator, in writing, within 2 days. Failure to do so will result in a loss for both teams.
Post-Season Tournament (all leagues except Little Juniors)
Ensuring Regular
Season Games
are Played
Make-up games must be scheduled as soon as possible after a postponement using a practice reserved for one of the participating teams – if another team is sharing the practice slot, coordinators will try to give them another time to practice.The last week of the regular season will be used for final make-up games; however, coordinators will allow at least one day between the final make-up game and the start of the tournament (to provide time to communicate the tournament schedule to participating teams).

Winning percentage will determine the final standings (i.e., a record of 9 wins, 6 losses is better than 9 wins, 7 losses).

Teams tied for a position in the standings will have the ties broken as follows:

  • Most wins in head to head competition between the teams that are tied.
  • Total runs allowed in games between teams that are tied.
  • Total runs scored in games between teams that are tied (maximum 12 runs per game).
  • Coin flip.

If two teams are tied for 1st place in the regular season, both teams will get a championship trophy, provided that championship trophies are awarded. The tie-breaking rules are only for determining seeding in the tournament.


There can be no ties in a tournament game. The “no new inning rule” at 1 hour 30 minutes (1 hour 20 minutes in Juniors) will be observed (Exception: the minimum number of innings must be played regardless of time limit – see Official Game rule earlier). If tied at the end of the last inning, additional inning(s) will be played until there is a winner at the end of a complete inning.If a tournament game is started but then postponed because of weather or darkness, the game will continue on the designated rain-out day. The game will be completed from the exact point where it was postponed the previous day. Coaches must note and agree on the score, baserunners, count on the batter, and time expired when the game is postponed. When completed later, the game will be official at the completion of the inning during which the time limit is reached (as long as the minimum number of innings have been played).

If a one-day tournament cannot be completed on the designated rain-out day, the tournament will be cancelled. If two teams were playing in the championship game, then they will be declared co-champions for the tournament and each will receive a trophy with that designation. If the tournament is cancelled before semi-final winners are determined, no trophies will be awarded.