Rule 6 - Pitching Regulations (Orthodox)
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. May not take the pitching position on or near the pitcher’s plate without having the ball in his possession.
b. Shall not be considered in the pitching position unless the catcher is in position to receive the pitch.
c. Must have both feet on the ground within the 61.0 cm (24 inch) length of the pitcher’s plate. The hips shall be in line with first and third bases and both feet must be in contact with the pitcher’s plate.
d. Must, while standing on the plate and with the ball in either the glove or the pitching hand, take the signal, or appear to be taking a signal, from the catcher with the hands separated.
e. Must, after taking the signal, bring their whole body to a full and complete stop with the ball held in the hand or glove with both held together in front or at the side of the body. This position must be held for not less than one (1) second and not more than ten (10) seconds before beginning the pitch.
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.
Sec. 3 LEGAL DELIVERY
a. The pitcher must not make any motion to pitch without immediately delivering the ball to the batter.
b. The pitcher must not use a pitching motion in which, after having the ball in both hands in the pitching position, he removes one hand from the ball, takes a backward and forward swing, and returns the ball to both hands in front of the body.
c. The pitcher must not use a windup in which there is a stop or reversal of the forward motion.
d. The pitcher may take the ball behind his back on the back swing.
e. The pitcher’s arm should draw a figure eight during the complete motion or the pitcher may use a bowling style.
f. The pitcher must not use a windmill or sling-shot type pitch, or the pitching arm may not make a complete revolution in the delivery.
NOTE: Turning the body toward first or third base and bending the elbow during the backswing is defined as a sling shot pitch. This is not permitted.
g. The ball can NEVER be outside of the wrist at any point in the delivery upward or downward. The palm never faces away from the body.
h. The delivery must be an underhanded motion with the hand below the hip, and the palm may be pointing downward or upward.
i. On the forward swing of the pitching arm, the elbow does not have to be locked at the point of release.
j. The driving hip must be squared to home plate when the ball is released.
k. The release of the ball must be on the first forward swing of the pitching arm and must past the hip. The release must have a complete, smooth follow-through with no abrupt stop of the arm, near the hip.
l. Both feet must remain in contact with the pitching plate at all times prior to the forward step.
m. In the act of delivering the ball, the pitcher must take one step simultaneous with the release of the ball. The step must be forward and toward the batter within the 61.0cm (24 in.) length of the pitcher’s plate. The stepping foot must be pointed toward home plate and must not touch the ground in front of, or cross over a straight line between the pivot foot and home plate.
NOTE: It is not a step if the pitcher slides his foot across the pitcher’s plate, provided contact is maintained with the plate. Lifting the pivot foot off the pitcher’s plate and returning it to the plate, creating a rocking motion, is an illegal act.
n. Pushing off with the pivot foot from a place other than the pitcher’s plate before the stepping foot has left the plate is considered a crow hop and is illegal.
o. The pitcher must not continue to wind-up after taking the forward step which is simultaneous with the release of the ball.
p. The pitcher shall not deliberately drop, roll or bounce the ball in order to prevent the batter from hitting it.
q. The pitcher has 20 seconds to release the next pitch after receiving the ball, or after the umpire indicates “Play Ball.”
EFFECT – Sec. 3q: A ball is awarded the batter.
r. The pitch is complete when the ball is released toward the batter.
Sec. 4 INTENTIONAL WALK
If the defense wishes to walk a batter intentionally without pitching four balls, they may do so at any time prior to the batter beginning and completing their turn at bat, regardless of the count, by any one of the pitcher, catcher or head coach notifying the plate umpire who shall award the batter first base. In this situation, the ball is dead.
NOTE: A team may still elect to throw four balls to the batter.
NOTE: A “pitch out” for the purpose of intentionally walking a batter is not considered an illegal pitch.
Sec. 5 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. 5a: No pitch shall be 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. 5b: The offending player shall be ejected from the game and an illegal pitch is called. A pitch does not have to be released.
c. With a runner on third base trying to score by means of a squeeze play or steal, no defensive player may:
- Step on, or in front of, home plate without the ball; or
- Touch the batter or bat.
EFFECT – Sec. 5c: The ball is dead. The batter shall be awarded first base on the obstruction and all runners shall advance one base on the illegal pitch.
Sec. 6 FOREIGN SUBSTANCE
a. The pitcher shall not, at any time during the game, be permitted to use any foreign substance on his pitching hand or fingers. Nor shall a pitcher use a ball that has foreign substance on it.
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 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.
EXCEPTION: A medical alert bracelet.
Sec. 7 THE CATCHER
a. Must remain within the lines of the catcher’s box until the pitch is released.
b. Shall return the ball directly to the pitcher after each pitch, including after a foul ball.
EFFECT – Sec. 7b: An additional ball shall be awarded to the batter.
EXCEPTION: This does not apply:
- After a strikeout; or
- When the batter becomes a batter-runner; or
- When there are runners on base; or
- When a foul ball is fielded close to the foul line and the catcher throws to any base for a possible out; or
- When, on a checked swing on a dropped third strike situation, the catcher throws to first base to retire the batter-runner; or
- When a pitched ball deflects off the catcher’s equipment or the backstop to an infielder, who returns the ball directly to the pitcher.
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. If the throw from the pitcher’s plate occurs during a live ball appeal play, the appeal is cancelled.
NOTE: 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 3q, Sec 5a, Sec 7b)
- The umpire shall give a delayed dead ball signal.
- If the illegal pitch is not hit:
a. An extra ball is awarded to the batter (first base if ball four); and
b. Runners are advanced one base.
EXCEPTION: If a runner legally advances on the illegal pitch (passed ball or wild throw by the catcher or a wild pitch), any extra bases obtained may be retained.
- If the illegal pitch is hit, the manager of the offensive team has the option of taking:
a. The award for the illegal pitch, or
b. The result of the play.
EXCEPTION: If the batter hits the ball, or becomes a runner due to a dropped third strike, and if all other runners have advanced at least one base due to the batter becoming a runner, the illegal pitch is nullified. All actions as a result of the batted ball stand and no option is given.
- If the manager does not take the result of the play, the illegal pitch is enforced by awarding a ball to the batter (first base if ball four) and advancing all runners one base. The ball is dead.
- When an illegal pitch hits the batter, the ball is dead, the batter is awarded first base and all runners are advanced one base. No option is given.
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 relieves another, not more than one minute may be used to deliver not more than five 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.
- 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-b: 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. 9a-b.
c. Play shall be suspended during this time.
d. A pitcher returning to pitch in the same half inning will not be entitled to warm-up pitches.
EFFECT – Sec. 9d: A ball shall be awarded to the batter for each pitch taken.
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.
f. If a pitcher is using a designated warm up area within the field of play while the game is in progress, they must also have a protective spotter who will stand immediately behind the pitcher and face the infield with an empty glove, serving to alert and, if necessary, protect the pitcher and catcher. The spotter may carry one ball in their throwing hand that may be given to the pitcher only if the warm up ball goes out of the playing area. Errant pitches that remain in the field of play must be retrieved immediately. The spotter must remain in position at all times. Only one pitcher, one catcher, one spotter and a coach may be in the warm up area. If pitchers are not actively warming up, they must return to the dugout area.
Sec. 10 NO PITCH
No pitch shall be declared when:
a. The pitcher pitches during a suspension of play.
b. The pitcher attempts a quick return of the ball:
- Before the batter has taken his position; or
- When the batter is off balance as a result of a previous pitch.
c. A runner is called out for leaving a base prior to the pitcher releasing the pitch.
d. The pitcher pitches before a runner has retouched his base after a foul ball has been declared and the ball is dead.
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 for the obvious purpose of trying to make the pitcher commit an illegal pitch.
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 DROPPED BALL
If the ball slips from the pitcher’s hand during his delivery:
a. A ball is declared on the batter; and
b. The ball will remain in play; and
c. The runners may advance at their own risk.
NOTE: The delivery must have started. If the ball is dropped prior to the start of the delivery (including before or during the pause), it is just a live ball.
Sec. 12 ILLEGAL PITCHER
a. A pitcher, who has been declared illegal due to the charged conference rule, may not return to the pitching position for the remainder of the game.
b. There is no violation until a pitch has been thrown.
EFFECT – Sec. 12.
- 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.