Rule 6 - Pitching Regulations
NOTE: The Effect for all Sections 1 - 8 follow at end of Section 8.
SEC. 1 PRELIMINARIES
Before commencing the delivery (pitch), the pitcher:
a. Shall not be considered in the pitching position unless the catcher is in position to receive the pitch.
b. Must take a position with both feet firmly on the ground and with one or both feet in contact with the pitcher plate or the ground anywhere inside the pitching “chute”. The chute is the same 24 inch width as the pitching plate.
c. Must come to a full and complete stop with the ball held in one or both hands in front of the body.
d. The front of the body must face the batter.
e. This position must be held for not less than one second and not more than ten seconds before starting the delivery.
Sec. 2 STARTING THE PITCH
The pitch starts when one hand is taken off the ball or the pitcher makes any motion that is part of his wind-up after the pause.
NOTE: To indicate to the pitcher that he may not start the pitch, the umpire should raise one hand with the palm facing the pitcher. “NO PITCH” shall be declared if the pitcher pitches while the umpire has his hand in said position.
Sec. 3 LEGAL DELIVERY
a. The pitcher must not make any motion to pitch without immediately delivering the ball to the batter.
b. The windup must be a continuous motion.
c. The pitcher must not use a windup in which there is a stop or reversal of the forward motion.
d. The pitcher must deliver the ball toward home plate on the first forward swing of the pitching arm, past the hip with an underhanded motion.
e. The pivot foot must remain in contact with the pitcher’s plate or on the ground where the pitcher established his start in the pitching chute until the pitched ball leaves the hand.
f. If a step is taken, it can be forward, backward, or to the side, provided the pivot foot is in contact with the pitcher’s plate or pitcher’s established point on the ground inside the pitching chute and the step is simultaneous with the release of the ball.
g. The pitcher shall not pitch the ball:
- Behind his back; or
- Through his legs; or
- From the glove.
h. The pitch shall be released at a moderate speed.
EFFECT – Sec. 3h:
- The speed is left entirely up to the judgment of the umpire.
- The umpire shall warn the pitcher who delivers a pitch with excessive speed.
- If the pitcher repeats such an act after being warned, he shall be declared an illegal pitcher and may not pitch again for the remainder of the game.
i. The ball must be delivered with a perceptible arc of at least 1.83 m (6 ft.), and not more than 3.65 m (12 ft.), from the ground.
j. The hand shall be below the hip.
k. The pitcher may not continue to windup after he releases the ball.
l. The pitcher has 20 seconds to release the next pitch after receiving the ball, or after the umpire indicates, “Play Ball.”
Sec. 4 DEFENSIVE POSITIONING
a. The pitcher shall not deliver a pitch, unless all defensive players, except the catcher who must be in the catcher’s box, are positioned in fair territory.
EFFECT – Sec. 4a: No pitch is called. Make the defensive player(s) move into fair territory.
b. A fielder shall not take a position in the batter’s line of vision or, with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter.
EFFECT –Sec. 4b: The offending player shall be ejected from the game and an illegal pitch shall be called. A pitch does not have to be released.
Sec. 5 FOREIGN SUBSTANCE
a. No member of the defensive team is permitted to use any foreign substance on the ball, their hands or fingers.
b. Under the supervision and control of the umpire, powdered resin or drying agents (cloths embedded with resin) approved by Softball Canada can be applied to the pitcher’s hand.
- The resin or drying agent cannot be applied to the ball or glove directly.
- Resin must be left on the ground and the approved drying agent cloth in the pitcher’s pocket.
- A pitcher who licks his fingers must wipe them off before gripping the ball.
EFFECT – Sec 6 a-b
- An illegal pitch is called for each infraction in 1-3
- If any defensive player continues to place foreign substance on the ball, the umpire shall eject the pitcher after a warning to the coach.
c. The pitcher shall not wear a batting glove on the pitching hand.
d. The pitcher may not wear tape, a sweatband, a bracelet or similar type item on the fingers, wrist or forearm of the pitching arm. If a pitcher requires a sweatband or tape on their pitching arm as a result of an injury, both arms must be covered with an undershirt.
e. A medical alert bracelet is legal.
Sec. 6 THE CATCHER
a. Must remain within the lines of the catcher’s box until the pitched ball is batted, touches the ground or plate, or reaches the catcher’s box.
b. Shall return the ball directly to the pitcher after each pitch, including after a foul ball.
EFFECT – Sec. 6b: An additional ball shall be awarded to the batter.
EXCEPTION: This does not apply:
- After a strikeout; or
- A put out by the catcher; or
- When a foul ball is fielded close to the foul line and the catcher throws to any base for a possible out.
Sec. 7 QUICK PITCH
The pitcher shall not attempt a quick return of the ball:
a. Before the batter has taken his position; or
b. When the batter is off balance as a result of a pitch.
Sec. 8. THROWING TO A BASE
a. The pitcher, after he has taken the pitching position, shall not throw to a base during a live ball while his foot is in contact with the pitcher’s plate.
b. The pitcher may remove himself from the pitching position by stepping backwards off the pitcher’s plate prior to separating his hands. Stepping forward or sideways constitutes an illegal pitch.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE EFFECT FOR ALL SECTIONS 1 - 8 ABOVE:
EFFECT – Sec. 1-8: Any infraction of Sections 1-8 is an illegal pitch. (EXCEPTION Rule 6, Sec. 3l, Sec 4a, Sec 6b)
- The umpire shall give a delayed dead ball signal.
- A ball shall be called on the batter.
- Runners are not advanced.
- If a batter swings at any illegal pitch, it is nullified and all play stands.
- If an illegal pitch is called during an appeal play the appeal is cancelled.
NOTE: An illegal pitch shall be called when it becomes illegal. The umpire calling the illegal pitch shall give the delayed dead ball signal. The call should be loud enough for the nearest fielder to hear. Failure of the players to hear the call shall not nullify the illegal pitch.
Sec. 9 WARM-UP PITCHES
a. In the first inning, or when a pitcher replaces another, not more than one minute may be used to deliver not more than three pitches to the catcher or another team member.
b. At the start of each subsequent inning, not more than one minute may be used to deliver not more than three pitches to the catcher or another team member.
c. A pitcher returning to pitch in the same half inning will not be entitled to warmup pitches.
- This does not apply if the umpire delays the start, or resumption of play due to substitution, conference, injuries, etc.
- The umpire can allow five (5) pitches rather than three (3) pitches should weather conditions warrant it.
EFFECT – Sec. 9a-c: For excessive warm-up pitches, a pitcher shall be penalized by awarding a ball to the batter for each pitch in excess as listed in Sec. 9 a-b.
d. Play shall be suspended during this time.
e. There is no limit to the number of times a player can return to the pitching position provided he has not:
- Left the line-up; or
- Been declared an illegal pitcher by the umpire.
Sec. 10 NO PITCH
No pitch shall be declared when:
a. The pitcher pitches during a suspension of play.
b. A runner is called out for leaving a base before the pitched ball reaches home plate, is batted, or touches the ground before home plate.
c. The pitcher pitches before a runner has retouched his base after a foul ball has been declared and the ball is dead.
d. The ball slips from the pitcher’s hand during his windup or during the back swing.
EFFECT – Sec. 10a-d: The ball is dead and all subsequent action on that pitch is cancelled.
e. A player, manager, or coach:
- Calls “Time”; or
- Employs any other word or phrase; or
- Commits any act while the ball is live and in play.
EFFECT – Sec. 10e:
- The ball is dead and all subsequent action on that pitch is cancelled.
- A warning shall be issued to the offending team, and a repeat of this type of act by any member of the team warned shall result in the offender being ejected from the game.
Sec. 11 ILLEGAL PITCHER
a. A pitcher, who has been declared an illegal pitcher as a result of:
- Two charged defensive conferences in the same inning; or
- Pitching with excessive speed.
NOTE: A pitcher declared illegal may not return to the pitching position at any time for the remainder of the game.
b. There is no violation until a pitch has been thrown.
EFFECT – Sec. 11:
- The use of an illegal pitcher is an appeal play, which can be made at anytime after a pitch has been thrown and while the illegal pitcher is in the line-up as a pitcher.
- If the illegal pitcher is discovered after the first pitch, he is ejected from the game.
- If the illegal pitcher is discovered after the batter completes his turn at bat and prior to the next pitch, the manager of the offensive team has the option of:
a. Taking the result of the play; or
b. Having the play nullified with the runners returning to the last base held at the time of the play and the batter returning to bat assuming the count held prior to the completion of his turn at bat.