Softball Rules & Regulations

Please ensure that you read and understand the Houston Sports & Social Club General Rules. They can be found here.

Houston Sports & Social Club Softball Rules

 

ROSTER/WAIVERS:

There is no maximum number of players allowed on a softball team roster; however players must be registered with Houston Sports & Social Club and must sign the Houston Sports & Social Club waiver to be able to participate. Please refer to the Houston Sports & Social Club General Rules for rules regarding roster adjustments and additional detail regarding waivers.

PLAYER ELIGIBILITY:

                Please refer to the General Rules for details regarding player eligibility.

SPORTSMANSHIP:

Houston Sports & Social Club expects all participants to play with the highest level of sportsmanship. Rude or demeaning behavior to umpires, the opposing team, and/or your own team members will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Unsportsmanlike behavior may result in that player being ejected from the game. An ejection may result in further suspension from participation in current and/or future Houston Sports & Social Club sports. An ejected player is required to leave the premises immediately. Refusal to leave the premises may result in a team forfeit and/or suspension.

Any disputes or complaints regarding the umpire’s handling of a game or ejection can be addressed with the league after the day of play in which the incident took place. On the day of the incident, the umpire’s decision will be considered final and disputes will not be addressed by the league.

FORFEITS:

If a team does not have the minimum number of players by game time, a $50 forfeit fine will be assessed and given to the opposing team in the form of a bar tab, unless the team has enough players to play an officiated exhibition game (minimum of 5 players). The game will be considered a forfeit if, after the team that is short players bats in the first inning, still does not have enough players to play an official game. The team that is short players will bat first.

If a team e-mails info@HoustonSSC.com by 8am the day of the game for weekday leagues or by 4pm Friday for weekend leagues, stating that they will not be able to field a team, no fine will be assessed. This will allow notifications to reach the opposing team’s members and will allow the opposing coach to inform his team of the impending forfeit. 

                Please refer to the General Rules for additional details regarding forfeit fines.

BEVERAGES AT FIELDS:

Houston Sports & Social Club promotes responsible drinking; however some fields do not allow alcoholic beverages. If this is the case, Houston Sports & Social Club staff members will be monitoring to ensure that there are no visible signs of alcohol present. If a fine is assessed against Houston Sports & Social Club for a player’s negligence in following the rules of the field, that player will be responsible to reimburse Houston Sports & Social Club for any fines or additional costs associated with the violation. A player may be suspended for such violations.

POINTS AWARDED:

                The winning team will be awarded 2 points.

                In the event of a tie, both teams will be awarded 1 point.

                The losing team will not be awarded any points.

ATTIRE:

Metal spikes are not allowed.

THE FIELD:

Any ball batted, thrown, or unintentionally sent out of bounds will result in awarding the batter and all runners the base they were going to when the ball went out of bounds and one additional base. In general, for fields with fence lines, the fence line will be the out of bounds marker and will extend indefinitely. For open fields, an imaginary line extending 20 feet parallel to the base lines will define the out of bounds area. There may be special circumstances that vary from field to field. The referee will make the determination if a special provision is necessary and will declare them before the start of each game.

** For games played at fields with a fence, there will be a 1 home run limit per team per game.  Every home run after 1 will be ruled an out. Homeruns are defined as balls that travel over the fence without a bounce, i.e. there is no limit on the number of inside the park home runs **

If a batted ball hit in the air strikes an object in the outfield within the field of play prior to a fielder having an opportunity to make a play on the ball, e,g, tree, power line, light pole, etc, the ball will be ruled a ground rule double. A ball hit on the ground that strikes an object will be considered live unless it bounces out of bounds after striking the object. The final ruling is at the discretion of the umpire.

TEAMS:

There will be a maximum of 10 players on the field at any time for a given team and a minimum of 8 players. There will be no more than 6 males on the field at any time. If a team does not have 4 females available to play, they must play short-handed and will get an automatic out when that position is reached in the batting order. If the team has fewer than 10 players available to play but have at least 4 women, no automatic outs will be assessed. There must always be a player at the catcher position.

In TOURNAMENTS, the females can rotate through the lineup with NO automatic outs taken, however if 2 males have hit consecutively and all females are on base, an automatic out will then be assessed.

All players must bat in the lineup, but no more than 2 males can bat in a row. In order to maintain proper ratios, females may re-bat in the original order of the lineup if needed (assuming a minimum of 4 females). For example, if a team has 9 players and 4 females, the fifth female spot in the lineup would revert back to the first female that kicked.  Males CANNOT bat more than once in the lineup to achieve a 2-1 guy-girl ratio, i.e. males are not allowed to re-bat until all players have batted at least once. In the instance that a team is short females, automatic outs for the missing females must be assessed each time through the lineup prior to a male re-batting.

The batting order is fixed and cannot be changed during the game. Fielding positions can be changed between players on the field during innings, but no substitutions are allowed during an inning (barring injury). The only exception is that catchers may not be changed during the inning. The player that starts the inning as catcher must play that position throughout the inning (barring injury).

Each team must maintain two copies of the batting order. One copy must be given to the umpire before the start of the game and the other copy is for the team’s use.

REGULATION GAMES:

Games will last for a maximum of 7 innings, with the game being official after 3 completed innings. New innings will not begin after 50 minutes have elapsed from first pitch.

            There are no extra innings, thus the game can end in a tie.

Games will have a 5-minute grace period (with the exception of the first game of the night, which will have a 10-minute grace period). Once the grace period has expired the game clock will start. Any team that is not ready or does not have the minimum 8 players at the start of the game will automatically bat first. If that team gets three outs, and still does not have the minimum 8 players to take the field, that team will be charged with an official forfeit and teams can use the remaining time to play an exhibition game.

If however, the opposing team wishes to allow the team to play with less than the minimum amount of required players, the game may be played as an official game. The opposing team’s captain must notify the umpire that they want to play an official game despite the other team’s inability to field the minimum 8 players. The umpire will assume the game is a forfeit unless there is a specific request by the team captain to this effect.

There is a maximum of 7 runs per inning per team in innings 1-3 (Exception: unlimited runs may be scored if one of the first 3 innings is declared the final inning due to time). Unlimited runs may be scored after the 3rd completed inning.

The mercy rule will be applied as follows: If a team leads by 15 runs or more after 3 innings, 12 runs or more after 4 innings, or 10 runs or more after 5 innings, the mercy rule will be applied and the game will be declared over.

EQUIPMENT:

Houston Sports & Social Club will supply all bases and game balls. Players are responsible for their own bats and gloves.

All bats that are intended to be used in the game should be made available to the umpire, who will be checking bats for compliance prior to games starting. Any bat used in HoustonSSC softball play must bear either the ASA approved 2000 certification mark, the ASA 2004 certification mark, or the ASA 2013 Certification Mark (see below), and must not be listed on an ASA Non-Approved Bat List with Certification Marks.

                                                          ASA bat stamps

 

For your convenience, you can access the list of non-approved bats that have ASA certification marks by clicking here.

If the bat has been manufactured before 2000, it will be left to the sole discretion of the umpire whether the bat may be used.

Any players using an illegal bat will be considered out. The illegal bat will be removed from the game and may not be used thereafter. If a batted ball has occurred, then all runners will return to their original base. In the instance of repeated offenses, further disciplinary action may be taken against the player and/or team.

Catchers are recommended to wear a mask at all times (Houston Sports & Social Club does not supply catchers’ masks). Teams may bring personal softballs for practice between games.

Metal cleats are not permitted. Any player wearing metal cleats must remove them or they will not be eligible to play.

BATTING / FIELDING:

The count begins at 1 ball, 1 strike. The batter will be out on the 3rd strike called. Once a batter has 2 strikes, the batter has one courtesy foul. The second foul after 2 strikes is an out. The batter will be awarded 1st base on the 4th ball called. If there are 2 outs and a male batter is walked with a female batter due up next, the male batter will touch 1st base and proceed to 2nd. The female batter has the option to walk or bat as normal.

Batters must touch all bases and cannot cut across the field, except when a home run occurs (batters must touch 1st base then proceed to the dugout - "hit and sit").

A line will be drawn approximately 2 feet from the side of the mound on either side. Batted balls hit up the middle between these lines will be ruled an automatic out. If a ball is hit above the pitcher's head (considered to be beyond arm's reach when the pitcher is flat footed), the play may be allowed. Determination of height is at the discretion of the umpire. 

            A count of three outs by a team completes the team’s half of the inning.

If a fly ball is fielded near the foul line, the ball is declared fair or foul depending on where the ball is touched (i.e. if a ball is touched in fair territory and dropped, the ball is considered fair and the play is live. If a ball is touched in foul territory and dropped, the ball is considered a foul ball.)

No more than 6 players on the fielding team may be inside the outfield grass or in the absence of an outfield grass line, within 15 feet of the base paths.

BATTING OUT OF ORDER:

If a player has batted out of order and the error is discovered while the incorrect batter is hitting, then the correct batter will assume the ball/strike count of the incorrect batter. If the incorrect batter reaches base safely and the error is discovered, the incorrect batter will be called out. All runners will return to their original base. The opposing team must make the umpire aware of “batting out of order” before a pitch is thrown to the next batter. If it is not, then the incorrect batter will stay on base.

PITCHING/CATCHING:

Pitching must be slow-pitch, underhand only in the spirit of sportsmanship. Pitched balls must reach at least 6' in height and shall not exceed 12' in height. 

Pitches will be delivered in a manner consistent with the spirit of the league.Players must use one continuous forward motion to deliver the pitch, i.e. no juking motions. Illegal pitches will be counted as balls if delivered unfairly due to speed or deception. If the batter opts to swing at an illegal pitch, the result of the play will stand.

The catcher must be positioned at least 5 feet behind the plate until the ball is batted. The catcher must not interfere with the batter. Catcher interference will result in the batter being awarded first base, and any players on base will automatically advance a base.

RUNNERS:

Runners must always stay within the base path. If a runner steps outside of the base path during play, they will automatically be called out. In the event that a batted ball draws the fielder into the baseline, it is the runner's responsibility to avoid contact with the fielder and may go outside the baseline within reason. Fielders must stay out of the base line unless they are attempting to tag the runner or catch the ball.

Fielders trying to make an out on base may have their foot on base, but must lean out of the baseline. If a fielder physically obstructs a runner from advancing or reaching their base, the runner may advance as many bases as they would have potentially earned had they been able to run unobstructed. This is a judgment call by the official.

There will be an extra first base (aka safety base) placed next to first base for the runner. The fielder must tag the regular base, NOT the safety base, to record the out and may not interfere in any way with the runner’s base path.

It is the responsibility of the runner to avoid a collision. Please help prevent injury to yourself and your opponents by doing everything in your power to avoid a collision. A tie will always go to the runner.

Players on base must not leave the base until it is hit by the player at bat. Stealing bases is not allowed. Any runner caught leading off or leaving the base prior to the ball being hit is out.

Runners may tag up on all fair & foul balls caught in the air. In a tag up scenario, the runner may leave base as soon as the ball is touched by a member of the fielding team. Any player that leaves base on a caught fly ball prior to the fielding team touching the ball, will be considered out unless they return to the starting base prior to being touched with the ball or the fielding team touching the starting base.

On an overthrow, all players may continue to advance provided the ball is still in play. The ball is dead if it touches sideline players, spectators, equipment, or goes out of bounds. If the ball goes out of bounds or is touched by a member of the fielding team who is not in the game, the runners will be allowed to advance to the base they were running plus one additional base. The player will be considered to be running toward a base if they have made an aggressive and definitive move toward the base prior to the dead ball.

If two runners occupy the same base at the same time, the fielder has the choice of tagging either runner with the ball. The runner who is tagged is out and the other runner is safe and may stay on the base.

If a runner passes the runner on the base ahead of them on the base paths at any time, the player passing the runner ahead of them will be considered out. The remaining runner is still considered a live player.

When the ball is in the infield and no runners are advancing bases, time will be called by the umpire. This will signal a stoppage in play in which no runners can advance until the next pitch is put in play. A play is also considered dead once the momentum of the play has ceased.

There is no Infield Fly Rule, unless the fielder intentionally drops the ball in an attempt to turn a double play.

INJURED RUNNER:

Injured players may receive a pinch runner once they reach a base. If a male player is injured, the last player out will become the pinch runner, regardless of gender. If a female player is injured, the last female out becomes the pinch runner.

OTHER RULES:

If a rule is not otherwise stated here standard ASA rules hold.

 

PLAYOFFS

  1. SEEDING

Playoff seedings will be determined by the best overall records. In the event of ties, head-to-head matchups will determine higher seedings whenever possible. When head-to-head matchups cannot clearly determine a higher seed, tiebreakers will be determined in the following order:

  1. Head-to-head matchups
  2. Highest team point differentials for the season
  3. Highest team total points for the season
  4. Lowest team total points allowed for the season
  5. Coin Flip
  1. PLAYOFF EXTRA INNINGS:

If regulation play ends in a tie during a playoff game, both teams will have the opportunity to bat. The player who was at bat during the previous inning when the 3rd out was recorded will start at 2nd base with no outs and a normal pitch count. If the game remains in a tie after the first playoff extra inning, each team will repeat the process but instead will begin the inning with a runner on 2nd and 1 out AND the game will revert to 1-pitch play (i.e. batters will start with a 3-2 count and no courtesy foul will be allowed. A batter that fouls the ball during 1-pitch play will be considered out).