Rule Interpretations

Do you have a rule question and need an interpretation?

The protocol to follow is:

  1. Send it to you Provincial Umpire-in-Chief (P/TUIC) for answer;
  2. If needed, the P/TUIC will forward it to the Officiating Development Committee (ODC)  Rules Committee Chair for help;
  3. If required, the ODC Rules Committee Chair will send the question on to the National Director of Umpires (NDU);
  4. The NDU will return the answer to the P/TUIC and Rules Committee.

Keep the protocol in place for a faster return for your answer.


Play: The batting order is ABCDEFGHI. C is the catcher. There are 2 outs with B on 3rd. C gets a walk, so could be temporarily replaced with A. A is a slow runner so the coach doesn't want to make the switch. The next pitch is a wild pitch and B scores. Now B becomes the next available replacement (temporary runner). Is the coach now allowed to request TIME and put B in as the temporary runner?

Interpretation: Yes, the coach may wait and elect to use the TR at any time after the 2nd out occurs.

While the WBSC rule is clear that a coach may utilize the option of the Temporary Runner at any time after the 2nd out occurs, the Softball Canada rule is written in such a way that it could be interpreted in different ways.

After conferring with the Rules Committee and the WBSC and researching the genesis of the rule (and keeping in mind that our preference is to align with WBSC where possible) the Softball Canada interpretation is that the coach may elect to utilize the TR at any time after the second out occurs.

This means that the coach may elect to wait if they feel that using the TR may place them at a disadvantage and later elect to utilize the TR if they so choose.

Play: In the second inning, a runner misses second base. The batter comes up to bat and takes 40 seconds to get in the batter's box so the plate umpires calls a strike. The second base player calls time and asks the base umpire if the runner now on third missed second base. Can the umpire take the appeal? The plate umpire called a strike, no pitch (legal or illegal) has been thrown.

Interpretation: Yes, a defensive player may still appeal the missed base in this situation, as there has not been a pitch (legal or illegal) thrown. While a strike has been awarded, this does not count as an illegal pitch. This is also the same ruling as the WBSC.

Play: Runners are on second and thirf with none out when B3 bunts the third strike in an attempted squeeze play. The ball pops up in the air, over foul territory toward F5, who is in a position to catch the ball. R3, in attempting to return to third and realizing that R2 will be thrown out if the ball is caught, deliberately collides with F5 who is in foul territory and the ball falls safely to the ground. The umpire rules that B3 is out for bunting foul on the third strike, R3 is out on the interference and R2 is also out for the deliberate attempt by R3 to prevent a double play. 

Answer: F - R7; S6 g EXCEPTION: 2. NOTE: 1.

Interpretation: Rule 7-6.g EXCEPTION 1 provides a clear intention that the batter is to return to bat. While we can only surmise the intentions of the crafters of this rule, it does state that the fielder is attempting to catch the ball, meaning it has not been touched. With the interference, the ball is dead immediately so the only further out that could be made is if it was an attempt to break up a double play.

Play: The batter hits a line drive single to centerfield. R1 was off on the pitch and has rounded second when F8 comes up throwing to first base to try and get the slow BR. The offensive team dugout is on the first base side and the next on deck batter has already opened the gate to take his position. The throw from F8 is off line and leaves the playing field through the open gate. The plate umpire calls ‘Dead Ball’ and awards R1 home and the BR second base on the play. The defensive coach comes out and insists the ruling is inappropriate as the offensive team caused the ball to go out of play. Is the umpire’s ruling correct?

Interpretation: The umpire has made the correct ruling. In this situation the rule in violation is a ball that goes out of play and all runners are awarded two bases from the time of the throw. Rule 8-7g Effect 7g 1-a. Gates are opened and closed throughout a contest and are a part of the game. Unless the offensive team player intentionally opened the gate as the ball approached there is no violation by the offensive team. It is the errant throw of the defensive team that created the issue not the open gate.

Umpire Casebook Review

Play: The bases are loaded, B4 receives a walk, scoring R3. Before the next pitch F2 appeals to the plate umpire that B4 was using an illegal bat. F2 wants the batter declared out and R3 returned to 3rd.

Ruling: The Batter-Runner is declared out and the runners are returned.

Interpretation: 7-6b provides guidance that the batter is to be called out in that she was "discovered" using an illegal bat. In this situation the "discovery" would be considered during the at-bat as the next pitch had yet to be thrown - offering a uninterrupted link to the at-bat.

While the advance was not on a hit ball, the spirit of the rule remains the same. While not specifically covered under the code, if appealed prior to the next pitch it would meet the threshold for the EFFECT under 7-6c and, in the spirit of the rule, the batter-runner would be called out and runners returned to their position at the time of the pitch.

This aligns with the WBSC code which would, under Rule 7-6c, see the batter called out and the runners returned to their location at the time of the last pitch.


Play: What is the status of a pitched ball that simultaneously makes contact with the plate and the strike mat?

Ruling: A legally pitched ball that simultaneously hit both the mat and the plate is a ball.

Interpretation: The PowerPoint slides which were prepared when the strike mat was adopted at Canadian Championships a couple of years ago (clipped from the 2013 Softball Ontario Refresher Clinic presentation) clearly illustrates that a legally pitched ball that strikes both the plate and the mat was to be ruled a ball.

Play: Bottom of the seventh inning tie game, R1 & R3. The batter hits a very high pop up in the infield towards F4. R3 takes off immediately for home while R1 drifts toward second base. R3 crosses home plate clearly before R1 runs into F4 causing F4 to drop the ball either deliberately or accidentally. The base umpire calls R1 out for interference for the out and allows R3 to score.
With the following scenarios: None out, one out, two out.


Two Outs
R1 would be declared out for interference (Rule 8, Sec 9.l). While this is an interference out, it also meets the criteria for a Force Out as it was made after R1 lost the right to first base, before R1 has reached second base and before the BR was put out (Rule 1, Sec 32). As this is the third out, R3 would not be able to score (Rule 5, Sec 8.b.2). (Result, R1 Out, three outs, no runs score)

One Out
Same as above. R1 would be out. With R3 running, this could easily be seen to be a deliberate attempt to prevent a double play (R3 would easily be doubled out at third - the fact that he has already touched home does not end his jeopardy to be out or return to third base), meaning that the BR would also be called out (Rule 8, Sec 9.l, Effect 1). As both of these outs would be considered Force Outs (neither R1 or the BR could be considered to have reached the next base safely as the ball has yet to be caught... or not), then the last out (the BR) would also be a Force Out and R3 would not be able to score on the play. (Result, R1 & BR Out, three outs, no runs score)

None Out
A little more complicated, but let's keep this on a roll. Consider the above situation with one out. R1 and BR are both declared out by R1's interference. Rule 8, Sec 8.c demands that Runners must return to their base (at the time of the pitch) when a Batter-Runner is declared out for interference. This does not demand that the BR create the interference, just that they are called out for interference, which is the case in this scenario. This means that both R1 and BR are out on the R1's interference and that R3 would be returned to the base at the time of the pitch. (Result, R1 & R3 out, two outs, R3 returned to third base).