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Official NHSSC Outdoor Softball Rules

Outdoor Softball


Section Zero – ASA

  1. Except where otherwise specified in these rules, the NHSSC shall use the most recent edition of the ASA (Amateur Softball Association) rules for co-ed slow-pitch play.

Section One – Team

  1. Teams must consist of a minimum of fourteen (14) players, with at least five (5) of each gender.  There is no maximum number of players a team may have on its roster.
  2. Teams fielding with 10 players must field at least 3 players of each gender. Teams with only 2 players of given gender must field with no more field with 9; with 1 player of a given gender, no more than 8. A team with no player of one gender shall field no more than 7. Fewer than 7 is a forfeit.
  3. A catcher and pitcher are required positions.
  4. Game substitutes who are not enrolled in the softball league are strictly prohibited. Teams found to be playing with a non-league member will forfeit the game. Teams may use substitute players (already enrolled & registered in the same league - ie. players from the Sunday receational league may sub for other teams, but players from a Thursday league may not sub for the Sunday league) if a team has less than 10 players and provided that the opposing team captain agrees to the subs BEFORE the game being started. Once an opposing team captain has agreed to the substitute players the game is considered LIVE and will proceed

Section Two – Field and Equipment

  1. All necessary equipment will be provided by the NHSSC, with the exception of fielder’s gloves.  Provided equipment includes bases, bats, balls,  and strike plate. Batting helmets, and catcher’s masks can be provided upon a team's request, with at least 48 hours notice. 
  2. Players may bring their own single-wall bats, provided that they are within the allowable specifications set forth here: Double-wall or multi-wall, composite (any part of the bat), wood, baseball, multi-piece and fungo bats, are explicitly forbidden. Allowable bats must be steel or aluminum, one-piece, single-wall, and non-composite. The ASA mark on a bat does not automatically clear it for usage.

  3. Semi-Competitive Play Only: All captains shall be present at least 5 minutes prior to gametime. At this time, each captain will show his/her lineup, and be allowed to review the opposing team’s bat selection. Each captain, may, at this time, challenge a given bat that is not fit to be used in the league.  That bat shall be removed from play, with no penalty. 

    If, even after the initial review, a player is found to be using an illegal bat, the bat may be challenged by a player from the opposing team after a player has used a bat, but prior to the next batter receiving a pitch. If the bat is found to contain specifications not allowed by the league (which must be proven by the opposing team), that batter shall be expelled from the game, with an out to occupy that batters spot in the lineup. The batter will be allowed to resume gameplay the following week. This rule shall be applied starting in week 2 of the league. For week 1, players found using an illegal bat will be called out.

  4. Recrational Play: The legality of a bat may be questioned by a field manager, umpire, or opposing team's player after a player has used a bat, but prior to the next batter receiving a pitch. If the bat is found to contain specifications not allowed by the league, that batter shall be declared out. If the following batter receives a pitch, no further challenge can be made.
  5. For BOTH Recreational and Semi-Competitive leagues, If a player is found to be in possession of an altered bat, as soon as that player steps into the batter's box, that player shall be ejected immediately from the game. 

  6. All games will be played with NHSSC-provided regulation softballs. In social leagues, pitchers shall utilize a twelve-inch "Incrediball" or reduced-flight softball for male batters and an eleven-inch softball for female batters. In semi-competitive leagues, pitchers shall utilize a twelve-inch softball for male batters and an eleven-inch softball for female batters.
  7. Foul lines shall be marked with cones to assist umpires with determining fair and foul balls. 
  8. A runner’s safety base shall be used at first base.
  9. Any ground rules regarding obstacles or out-of-play areas may be decided upon by the umpire prior to the game, and communicated to the respective team captains.
  10. Closed-toed shoes are required.  Metal cleats or spikes are not allowed.

Section Three – Game Times 

  1. Scheduled game times are forfeit times, and the game clock shall be started at scheduled game times, regardless of any delays. 
  2. The game will consist of 7 innings, or 6.5 innings if the home team is leading.  However, no inning may start after 55 minutes have elapsed, unless the score is tied.
  3. In the event of a tie, the game may proceed until either a team is leading at the conclusion of a full inning or 65 minutes has elapsed since the game began. At the 65-minute mark the game must stop, regardless of the situation on the field, with the score at the end of the last full inning being the official score.

Section Four – Fielding

  1. Each team may field up to ten players, no more of seven of whom may be of any one gender. A team with only two of a gender may play only nine fielders. A team with only one of a gender may play only eight fielders. A team with no players of a gender shall field no more than seven players.
  2. Players may change field positions at any time.
  3. Any active roster player may substitute for any fielder at any time.
  4. No fielder may obstruct a runner from advancing the bases.  If called, the umpire will award the runner a number of bases necessary to nullify the obstruction.
  5. Infield fly rule:  If there are fewer than two outs and runners are on first and second, and the batter pops up the ball to the infield, the umpire shall shout “Infield fly!”  If the ball drops in fair territory to the infield, the batter shall be called out.  If the ball drops in foul territory and is not caught, then it is considered a foul ball.  This rule is intended to prevent intentional fielding errors to force runners into a double play. 

Section Five – Batting

    1. Each team shall provide their opponents with their batting order prior to the start of the game.
    2. Each team will have three outs in their half of the inning. 
    3. Each batter than comes to the plate will start with a 1-1 count.
    4. A player will be considered out if he has three strikes, if he hits a ball that is caught on the fly in either fair or foul territory, or if he invokes the infield fly rule.
    5. Four balls will result in a walk being awarded to the batter.
    6. Intentional Walks - If an intentional walk (umpire's judgement) is issued, the battter who is being walked will be awarded 2nd base. The following batter, regardless of gender, will have the option of either hitting or talking a walk.
    7. Three fouls on a two-strike count will be called an out.
    8. All team members present may be placed in the batting order, but the batting order must remain the same throughout the game. If a player leaves the batting order, for any reason, the spot that batter occupied will be considered an out. 
    9. Any late-arriving player may bat at the bottom of the order, until the entire lineup has batted.
    10. No more than three players of the same gender may be listed in the batting order consecutively, unless the batting team takes an out for the missing player. The out is to occupy a spot in the batting order.  If the missing player shows up after the 'out' has been reached, rule 9 is to be followed.  
    11. If a player bats out of order and the error is caught by the opposing team while still at bat, the correct batter will take the original player’s place at bat and resume the current count.  If the incorrect batter reaches base and the error is caught by the opposing team the batter will be called out.  However, the opposing team must alert the umpire to the error before the first pitch is thrown to the next batter.
    12. If a catcher interferes with a batter’s swing the batter is automatically awarded first base.
    13. Home plate, bases, and foul lines are all to be considered fair territory.  Balls that land between the foul lines and then leave fair territory prior to first or third base will be considered foul, unless the ball is touched by a fielder while the ball is in fair territory.  Balls that land in fair territory past first and third base will be considered fair, regardless of whether the ball rolls into foul territory. 
    14. Pinch batters are allowed in case of injury.  However, the injured batter may not return to the game and the pinch batter will permanently take the batter’s place in the batting order. If no substitutes are available, the injured batter shall be called out.


Section Six – Running 

  1. Runs are scored by advancing through the bases in order.
  2. A runner will be called out if he interferes with a ball in play unless said ball is first touched by a fielder or the runner is on base, if he is forced to a base that is tagged by a fielder, if he is tagged directly by a fielder, if he leaves a base before a pitch crosses home plate, if he passes a runner who precedes him in the batting order, or if he leaves the basepaths to avoid being tagged. 
  3. Runners must give themselves up if necessary to avoid collisions with fielders.  Intentional collisions will result in ejection from the game.
  4. Stealing is not allowed.
  5. Runners advancing to first base must use the right “runner’s base,” while fielders may use the white base.  In the event of a ball hit to the outfield, and the runner intends to advance to second, he may round the base using the white base.
  6. A runner may overrun first base without penalty.  However, the runner may be tagged out in the event of an aggressive move towards second base.
  7. In the event of two runners finding themselves at the same base, the runner who touches it first is entitled to it.  The other runner is automatically out.
  8. Runners may not slide headfirst while advancing a base.  However, a slide back towards an overrun base is allowed.
  9. Mercy Rule:  A team leading the game by 14 runs or more at any time shall be restricted from scoring more than seven runs per inning. Should a team be leading by more than 15 runs after 4.5 innings of play, or 12 runs after 5.5 innings of play, the inning then in progress shall be the last.
  10. Each team may, without objection from the opposing team, utilize no more than one courtesy runner per inning. A courtesy runner is only allowed when the batter has stopped on first base, and only the last batter out from the previous inning may serve as a courtesy runner. Courtesy runners still occupy their spot in the lineup, and do not take the place of the batter for any purpose other than running the bases. The invocation of the courtesy runner rule must be announced to the umpire and the opposing team captain before the courtesy runner relieves the batter of his position on base. If the opposing team objects to the courtesy runner, the original batter must remain on base. Except for this provision, pinch runners are only allowed in case of injury.  However, the injured runner may not return to the game and the substitute batter shall take the runner’s place in the batting order.  If no substitute is available, the injured runner shall be called out.
  11. The NHSSC will utilize a commit line halfway between third base and home plate, and a scoring line that runs perpendicular to home plate. If a player crosses the commit line, it becomes a force play at home; if the catcher touches home plate (home plate does NOT include the strikemat) with the ball in his/her glove before the player crosses the scoring line, the base runner is ruled out. Baserunners who touch home plate will be called out; to score the baserunner break the plane marked by the line. Defensive players cannot tag a runner out who has crossed the commit line. If a tag is applied in this scenario, the runner shall be ruled safe. 

Section Seven – Pitching 

  1. A legal pitch is delivered to the plate with at least one foot on the rubber, no less than 35 feet from plate, using an underhand motion.  The pitch must arc to at least six feet in heightbut no higher than 10 feet, as judged by the umpire, and must strike the “strike plate” provided by the NHSSC. 
  2. Any pitch that does not fit this description and is not hit by the batter shall be called a ball.
  3. A ball that slips out of the pitcher’s hand during the wind-up is a “no-pitch,” and the runners may not advance.
  4. Any pitch swung on and missed is considered a strike.
  5. The pitcher may not advance towards home plate until the ball is struck.

Section Eight – Scoring

  1. The winning team will be credited with two points towards the standings.
  2. The score remains tied then each team will be credited with one point towards the standings.

Section Nine – Umpires 

  1. The judgment of the officials shall be final and binding.
  2. The official shall be responsible for:
    1. Keeping time
    2. Calling every pitch, hit, and play
    3. Recording each strike, ball, and out
    4. Enforcing all NHSSC policies
      1. No player shall argue with NHSSC staff
      2. No player shall use abusive language
      3. No player shall engage in unsportsmanlike conduct
    5. Any player who violates these rules twice in the same game shall be ejected. 
    6. Any ejected player will be suspended from their subsequent game.
    7. Any player ejected from two games shall be removed from the league. 
    8. The NHSSC official on site may, at his or her discretion, recommend further disciplinary action up to and including a permanent ban from all NHSSC activities. 
    9. Any player who engages in any sort of violence, including fighting, shall be banned permanently from the NHSSC.

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