IM Sports Softball Rules are based on the American Softball Association Rules. All players are responsible for reading this document prior to participating in Softball.
- Number of Players
Ten (10) players are allowed on the field at any given time. A minimum of eight (8) players is needed to start and finish a legal game. All participants must sign their team’s Release Agreement before participating in their first game. Each team is allowed a maximum of eighteen (18) players on their Team Roster.
- Roster Limit
Each team is allowed a maximum of eighteen (18) players on their Team Roster.
- Participant Attire
All participants must wear athletic-type shoes appropriate to the playing surface. No metal cleats, bare feet, street shoes, sandals, etc. are allowed. No cleats are allowed on any grass playing surface. Cleats/spikes are not allowed on IM Sports natural grass fields (Levine-Fricke Softball Field and Witter Rugby Field).
IM Sports will provide the game ball. Teams must bring their own bats and balls to warm-up with. Only bats stamped “OFFICIAL SOFTBALL” are considered legal. Catchers are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask.
- Additional Softball Bat Restrictions
In the interest of safety for all players and due to increasing participant concerns, IM Sports has banned certain bats from being used before, during, and after all IM games:
- Double-wall, triple-wall, and “composite” material bats are banned indefinitely – even though they may be found on the ASA’s certified equipment list or bear the ASA Recertified mark.
- Please consult http://www.softball.org/about/certified_equipment.asp for a list of banned and approved bats.
- Umpires have the final say on whether any bat found on the approved/certified list is unsafe and may remove a bat from further play at their discretion.
- Penalty: Any batter who enters the batters box with a banned bat shall be called out. Any batter who is found to have used an illegal bat shall be ruled out (before the next legal pitch) and ejected. No runners may advance.
- Length of Game
Game time will be 50 minutes. No new inning will begin after the completion of the 50th minute of play, however, any inning started before the fiftieth minute will be completed regardless of time. The game shall be 7 innings or end after 50 minutes of play, whichever occurs first.
Any game that is tied after 7 innings or after an inning is completed after 50 minutes have been played, shall result in a tie. During the playoffs, extra innings shall be played until the tie is resolved after the completion of an inning.
- Mercy Rule
A game will end if a team trails by 10 or more runs if:
- The trailing team has had at least 4 innings at bat and as many innings at bat as the team in the lead.
- An inning is completed after the 40 minute of play.
Free substitutions are allowed; all participants must bat in the batting order. Participants arriving late must be placed at the bottom of the lineup. Courtesy runners are not allowed. If a runner is injured, he or she may be replaced with the last male or female out (as the situation dictates) but may not return to the line-up.
If an injured player (or player who leaves the game for whatever reason) cannot continue to play and there is no substitute available to meet the minimum Number of Players Rule (i.e. eight players), the game shall be over.
In addition, if an injured player or player who leaves the game drops a team to less than 10 players (but they have at least eight players remaining), the game may continue but an out shall be recorded each time that player(s)’ spot comes up in the line-up. If ten (10) or more eligible batters still remain after this action, no out is recorded when that player(s)’ spot comes up in the line-up.
Each batter will start with 1-1 count. With a two-strike count, each batter is allowed only one foul ball. The second foul ball will result in an out.
- Strike Zone
The strike zone is the area defined by the black "strike zone mat" and the back triangle of home plate. If the pitch is a legal pitch (the highest point of its arc is above the batter's head level) and lands on the strike zone, it is a strike. If the pitch lands on the front rectangle of home plate it is an automatic ball unless swung at. The plate Umpire shall rule upon illegal pitches. If the plate Umpire rules a pitch illegal, the batter may, but is not obligated to, swing at the pitch as a legal pitch.
- Arguing Balls and Strikes
Participants may not argue balls and strikes. Any arguing the judgement of balls and strikes constitutes a team warning. A repeat offense by the same team results in ejection of that team member.
- Batter’s Box
A batter is out if he/she steps out of the batter’s box and makes contact with a pitched ball. One or both feet must be entirely outside the box and in contact with the ground to be considered out. If the batter has any part of both feet inside the box or on the line, the batter is considered to be in the box.
- Balls Hit Out of Play
Maxwell South: If a fair fly ball leaves the field of play to the south of (to the right of) the nearest light stanchion, all runners, including the batter-runner, may advance one base (established at the time of pitch) without liability to be put out. If a fair fly ball leaves the field of play between the first and second light stanchions, all runners, including the batter-runner, may advance two bases (established at the time of pitch) without liability to be put out. If a fair fly ball leaves the field of play between the second and third light stanchions, all runners, including the batter-runner, may advance two bases (established at the time of pitch) without liability to be put out. If a fair fly ball leaves the field of play beyond the fourth light stanchion, all runners, including the batter-runner, may advance four bases (established at the time of pitch) without liability to be put out.
Maxwell North: If a fair fly ball leaves the field of play, all runners, including the batter-runner, may advance four bases without liability to be put out.
Levine-Fricke: If a fair fly ball leaves the field of play, but does not cross the secondary, 20-foot fence, it shall be a ground-rule double; else, a home run.
If a base is dislodged from its position during a play, any following runner on the same play shall be considered as touching or occupying the base if, in the umpire’s judgment, he touches or occupies the point marked by the dislodged bag or he touches or occupies the dislodged bag itself.
All runners, including the batter-runner, may advance two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators, or is caught in equipment left in foul territory (including nets and goals). The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made.
No runner shall leave his or her base before the batter makes contact with the pitch. There will be no warning given by the umpires. If a runner is off the base illegally, he/she shall be declared out.
In addition, when a defensive player has possession of the ball, runners must attempt to avoid contact. Penalty: Runner is out, ball is dead, and all other runners return to the last base touched at time of collision. If the contact is malicious, the runner shall also be ejected.
- Force Plays
All plays at home plate are force plays. The defensive player may touch the plate or the runner to record the out. There is a perpendicular line (“commit” line) crossing the 3rd base line approximately 20 feet from home plate – any runner touching or crossing this line with at least one foot is committed to home plate and this creates a force situation at home.
- Foul Balls
Each batter shall be allowed one courtesy foul ball after two strikes. The subsequent foul ball hit out of play shall be an out.
- First Base
There are two first bases – one in the standard position inside the baseline and a second outside the baseline. The standard first base shall be used to determine fair or foul ball and for defensive players to use in making plays. The “second” first base shall be outside the baseline and may be used by all batter-runners when attempting to reach base. On a force play at first base, the batter-runner must use the extra base.
Use of this “second” first base is to help prevent collisions and injuries at first base. The batter-runner may use either first base when rounding the base on hits to the outfield.
- Force Plays at Home Plate / Commit Line
A commit line is painted on each field approximately two thirds of the way from 3rd base to home plate. Once a runner comes in contact with either with the commit line or any part of the field past the commit line, the runner is committed to going home. Since all plays at home plate are force plays, if a runner passes the commit line and retreats to third base, the defensive team only need touch home plate with possession of the ball to retire the runner.
Note: This is essentially a live ball appeal. Once time is out, the defense will not have the opportunity to appeal the runner passing the commit line.
- Intentional Walks
Any intentional walk to a batter of either sex shall result in the following batter being awarded first base. It is the sole discretion of the umpire-in-charge whether a walk is intentional or not.
- Pitching Regulations
The pitcher’s pivot foot must be in contact with the pitcher’s plate throughout the delivery. The delivery must be a continuous motion. The pitch shall be released at a moderate speed.
- Quick Pitch
The pitcher shall not attempt a quick return of the ball before the batter has taken a position in the batter’s box or when the batter is off balance as a result of the pitch.
- Co-Rec Rule Modifications
- A team may never have more men than women on the field. Exception: With five (5) men and four (4) women present, the game may be played with the fifth male playing the catcher position. A team fielding enough players to start a game but not enough of a particular gender (male or female) will be awarded an automatic-loss, however, will not be forced to forfeit the game.
- Entire female teams are permitted in CoRec leagues. If a team decides to play without four (4) or more male players, it must be entirely female. Teams with one to three male participants are not permitted.
- Teams must bat in alternating and separate orders unless the team is occupied completely by women. If there are an uneven amount of players (i.e. 5 men and 4 women) teams may not bat a man at the top and bottom of the order. Teams with both men and women must ALWAYS have alternating batting orders.
- No fourth outfielder may move into the infield during a half-inning; if a team is to use 10 fielders, either four or three must be positioned in the outfield at all times during one half-inning. A line is arched this distance from home plate and shall restrict outfielders until contact with the ball is made (including the 4th outfielder). The umpire’s discretion will govern. Penalty: Batter will be awarded two bases, all runners advance if forced.
- It is prohibited for a man to take a play away from a woman in any position. Exception: At home plate, a male may cover. Penalty: Batter and all runners advance to base they would have reached had infraction not occurred without liability to be put out.
- Any intentional walk to a male batter will result in the option for the following female batter to walk or hit. The umpire will inform the female batter that she has the option to decline the intentional walk if she would rather hit. Whether a walk is intentional is the sole discretion of the plate Umpire.