Sophomore Division Rules (Grades 3-4)
Last Update: 6/4/2018
This document is intended for all coaches and players affiliated with Milton Girls Softball (MGS). The goal of Milton Girls Softball is for each player to have fun while improving her skill and knowledge of the game. This is critical for the Sophomore Division. We want the girls to have fun, learn about the game and gain confidence as they continue to improve over the course of the season.
- The distance from the back of home plate to the center of the pitcher's rubber = 35 feet
- The distance from the back of home plate to the back of 1st and 3rd base = 54 feet
- The distance from the center of 2nd base to the furthest part of 1st and 3rd base = 54 feet
- Pitcher’s circle – is a circle (real or imaginary) with a radius of eight feet from the center of the pitching rubber
- The umpire is the final arbiter of the distances.
Timing of the Game
- All players and coaches are expected to arrive at least twenty minutes before the officially scheduled starting time.
- The game begins after a coach from each team meets together with the umpire at home plate, to review “field” rules and exchange batting orders. The batting order must list the name of each player present for the game and their place in the batting order. The name and batting position of any late-arriving player must be forwarded to the opposing team’s coach before that player may enter the game.
- Games should start on time and move along with as little delay as possible between half-innings.
- Pitchers are limited to 5 warm-up pitches (with or without the catcher) between innings.
- Catchers should be dressed and ready-to-go before the final out of the preceding half-inning. If they are on base it is suggested that a courtesy runner (last batter to make an out) be inserted for them as a base runner or a different catcher is used for the coming inning.
- Weekday games will begin at 6 p.m. On or before May 5, no new inning shall start after 7:30 PM; after May 5, no new inning shall start 1:45 minutes after the start time.
- Weekend games –No new inning shall start 1:45 minutes after your start
- Once a game begins (first pitch is thrown), only the umpire has the authority to stop the game due to darkness, rain or for any other reason.
Players and Substitution
- A team will play with a maximum of ten players in the field (six infielders and four outfielders). If one team has six players, they will play with all six fielders and the other team can play with the normal ten fielders.
- Any team not fielding 6 or more players within fifteen minutes of the game’s scheduled starting time will forfeit the game. You are strongly encouraged to play a scrimmage instead.
- A team can always field 10 players in the field.
- All outfielders must stand at least fifteen feet behind the base path until the ball is hit. Typically this is where the outfield grass meets the infield dirt.
- An injured runner must be replaced by the last batter of the previous inning.
- A player removed from the game may re-enter the game at any time, in any position.
Balanced Playing Time
- All players must play the field at least 3 innings or half of the game. No player sits twice before all players have sat at least once.
- A player should play a minimum of 2 infield innings.
- All players in attendance must bat in order. Players who come late to the game (after the batting orders have been exchanged) must bat at the end of the order.
- A regulation game consists of six innings. The home team bats last in each inning.
- All 6 innings will be played except, if after the 4th inning, one team is ahead by more than 12 runs and the team who is behind chooses to apply the “mercy rule.” The only exception being the time limit rule.
- If you are unable to complete 6 innings due to time constraints, coaches should coordinate with each other and the umpire to determine what inning is the last inning.
- No team shall be allowed to score more than 4-runs in any half-inning. However, if the 4-run inning rule has not been invoked by the last inning, the visiting team and home team will not have the 4-run rule enforced upon them (Example: visiting team is losing in the last inning 7-0 and the rule has not been invoked, they can score 8 runs to take the lead. Likewise, the home ream can score unlimited runs in their last at-bat if the 4-run rule has not been invoked.).
- Games tied at the end of regulation will not go into extra innings.
- A minimum of 3 innings (2½ if the home team is ahead) must be completed for a game to be official.
- The home team takes the third base-side bench. The home team is responsible for supplying and positioning game bases, pitching rubber, and two new 11” game balls.
- Coaches are responsible for keeping score and ensuring the opposing coach follows our player substitution rules.
- A coach from each team must report the final score and # of innings pitched by each pitcher, for both teams, to their coordinator within 24 hours.
- Every team member bats. The original batting order is followed throughout the game regardless of substitutions made on the field.
- No player shall throw the bat (intentionally or unintentionally) upon swinging at a ball. The first time a batter throws a bat that team will receive a team warning. The second and each subsequent time a batter on an offending team throws a bat the batter will be ruled out and no runners may advance.
6.3. The strike zone is that space over home plate between the batter's armpits and knees when the batter assumes a normal stance. For close pitches, especially balls just wide of the strike zone, umpires will be instructed to give pitchers the benefit of the doubt, in order to reduce walks and encourage batters to swing.
6.4. When a pitched ball hits a batter, the ball is dead and the batter is awarded first base. Even if the ball bounces before it hits the batter, she is still awarded first base. However, when in the judgment of the umpire, the batter did not make a good attempt to get out of the way of the pitch it is the umpires decision whether to award the base.
- Base runners can leave the base when the pitcher releases the ball. The runner can only advance to the next base on a batted ball or a walk. Base runners leaving a base early shall be ruled out.
- If there is an attempt to tag the runner out before she returns to the base, she can be tagged out.
- Base runners may advance only one base when the ball is overthrown into foul territory. A base runner may advance as many bases as she can when the ball is overthrown in fair territory. There is no passed ball and no stealing.
- Players must slide OR avoid contact. All sliding rule decisions are at the discretion of the umpire. In order to prevent injury and protect a defensive player attempting to make a play, the runner will be called out (runner interference) if they crash into a defensive player holding the ball, preparing to apply a tag or positioning herself to catch a thrown or hit ball. To avoid interference the runner can slide, jump over the top of the player, or run around the player without being called out (even if forced to go outside the base path). If the runner is called out for interference the ball becomes dead. In summary, it is the runner’s responsibility to avoid crashing into a defensive player.
- Out of Baseline: When the base runner goes more than three feet out of the baseline to ‘avoid a tag’, the runner is out. The baseline is not necessarily the straight line between the two bases (or home plate). The baseline is established by where the base runner is currently running; any attempt to avoid a tag by moving laterally more that three feet, the runner should be called out. In the Sophomore Division, this can be instructed and used as a warning first, up to the umpire’s judgment.
- Fielder Interference: Base runners are entitled to advance to the next base if a fielder obstructs the base runner from advancing while in the base path (fielder interference), unless the fielder is in the process of fielding a batted ball or has the ball ready to touch the base runner (see runner interference).
- The base runner is out if she intentionally interferes with a thrown ball or if the base runner is out when struck with a fair, untouched batted ball while not in contact with a base.
- Sliding: Sliding of the base runner is encouraged when a play is being made at the base, except first.
- A ball thrown by a fielder that hits the base runner is a live ball.
- A batted or thrown ball hitting the umpire is in play.
- The infield fly rule is not in effect. Players advance at their own risk on an infield fly.
- A batter is out if the catcher catches a foul ball, which goes over the batter's head or if she catches a third strike foul tip. The batter is out on a called third strike even if the catcher drops the third strike.
- Once a defensive player has control of the ball roughly within the pitcher’s circle all base runners must immediately advance to the next base or return to the previous base. Base runners that stop between bases with the intent of creating a pickle situation will be ruled out.
The Sophomore Division does not have base stealing, and no dropped third strike.
- For the first 2-3 weeks of the season, coaches pitch the first 2 innings of each game to their own team. Players pitch the 3rd inning on. Balls and strikes will be called. Coaches cannot walk their own batters. A batting tee should not be used. After 2-3 weeks, we will announce when players should pitch all innings.
- Coaches should begin teaching pitching at the beginning of the season. The goal is to have several girls capable of pitching by mid to late season if possible. Players are to be used in the games at the coach’s discretion, with keeping the game moving also in mind.
- Pitchers cannot walk batters. After the 4th ball Coach comes in to pitch. Strike count resets to 1 if there are two strikes on the batter. Coach cannot walk batter. Pitching resumes until strikeout or the ball is put in play.
- A pitcher must be removed for the remainder of the inning upon hitting three batters in an inning or after the second conference-visit to the mound by a coach. The pitcher may be reinserted in any subsequent inning.
- Partial or full windmill pitching is encouraged but not mandatory. Regardless, both of the pitcher’s feet should be in contact with the pitching rubber at the start of the pitching motion. The pitcher is not allowed to step backward off the pitching rubber at any point during the pitching motion. Neither is the pitcher allowed to take more than one step off the pitching rubber towards the plate before releasing the ball.
- Discussions about the legality of a pitcher’s motion must be undertaken quietly between the coaches and the umpire. If, in the umpire’s opinion, the pitcher is being distracted by the conversation, the umpire shall declare the pitching motion legal for the remainder of the inning, and no further discussion will be entertained.
- Pitching masks required for all pitchers who take the mound.
- A pitcher must demonstrate an ability to throw at least 50% of her pitches as strikes in practice, before being inserted into a game.
- PLAYOFFS: Coaches will not pitch at any time during the playoffs.
- The following should be understood as guidelines and not strict ASA rules for the Sophomore Division:
Rule 6, Sec 1-A
FAST PITCH PITCHING
Both feet must be on the ground, in contact with the pitcher’s plate, and within the 24-inch length of the pitcher’s plate. The shoulders shall be in line with first and third bases.
Rule 6, Sec 1-C
FAST PITCH PITCHING
Both feet must remain in contact with the pitching plate at all times prior to the forward step.
Rule 6, Sec 3G
FP PITCHING FOOT
NOTE: It is not a step if the pitcher slides the pivot foot across the pitcher’s plate toward the batter, or if the pivot foot turns or slides in order to push off the pitcher’s plate, provided contact is maintained with the plate. Raising the foot off the pitching plate and returning it to the plate creates a rocking motion and is an illegal act (Comment: New wording clarifies that the pivot foot can slide or turn across the pitcher’s plate in order to push from the plate).
Rule 6, Sec 3-I
FP PITCHING PUSH & DRAG
The pivot foot must remain in contact with or push off and drag away from the pitching plate prior to the front foot touching the ground, as long as the pivot foot remains in contact with the ground.
- Once the game begins, the umpire is in complete control of the game.
- The league-supplied umpires shall stand behind the pitcher and must wear an umpire mask.
- A coach may talk to an umpire only between half-innings and in the presence of the other team’s coach. All discussions take place behind home plate.
- Umpires are not responsible for the violation of any special league rules such as pitching or playing time. If you believe the opposing team has violated any of our rules, you should lodge a complaint to your grade commissioner.
- If an umpire does not arrive within 15 minutes of game time, the coaches must agree on a substitute umpire. If an agreement cannot be reached, the game will NOT be rescheduled. Please inform the umpire commissioner that your umpire was a no show.
- Facemasks are required for all fielders playing 1st base, 3rd base and Pitcher. No exceptions.
- Mouth guards are not required, but strongly recommended.
- Sneakers or rubber cleats may be worn. Rubber cleats are recommended, as they are safer, especially in damp weather. Metal cleats are not allowed.
- Players should wear MGSA Softball shirts, and visors to the game.
- Removal of a batting helmet is an infraction and the base runner is out. This rule is here for safety. If the base runner loses her helmet while running the bases, she should not be considered out. If removal occurs during a dead ball situation so hair can be fixed or helmet readjusted the base runner is not out. Only when it is determined that the act was purposely done and a safety issue is at hand the base runner should be called out.
- No jewelry including watches, rings, earrings or necklaces can be worn during the game.
- Teams are encouraged to play games in light to medium rain. Games must be suspended for 30 minutes at the first sight of lightning.
- Coaches are expected to remain on the bench or in the general vicinity of the bench during the game. All players not in the field, at bat, or on deck are expected to remain on the bench during the game. Only players and a designated safety-adult are allowed on or near the players’ bench.
- Coaches are responsible for keeping the equipment, players, parents and other spectators behind an imaginary line drawn from the end of the backstop to the fence in front of the player’s bench. This imaginary line extends beyond the distance of the left and right fielder.
- Batters, on-deck batter, base runners, and player base-coaches must wear helmets and chinstraps at all times.
- When a player on a team is warming up the pitcher, she must wear the catcher's mask.
- Catchers must wear shin guards, chest protector and catcher’s mask.
- Official, A.S.A. sanctioned bats must be used.
- No dogs are allowed near the players’ bench, even if on a leash. Dogs at the field must be leashed at all times.
- Please pick up debris on the field and by the bench following the game.
- The coaching staff is ultimately responsible for the behavior of the parents of their team and their fans.
- Taunting of players by others will not be tolerated. Cheering for your own team is highly encouraged. Teamwork and building an enjoyable experience for all the girls in the league is our desired goal. However, there comes a time when the line can be crossed over, and it is up to the umpire to be aware of the incidents and to try to maintain a level playing field for both teams. This issue is not only between girls from both teams, it involves coaches and parents. Negative cheers about the other team should not be tolerated. Sudden noises (shouts, horns, foot stomping, “swing”, or other noise making devices) shall not be tolerated. Yelling things like “good pitch”, “ball”, “strike”, etc. should not be allowed until after the pitch is over. These are manipulative techniques to influence the batter and the umpire. The Umpire should stop the game to give a warning the first time and expel the person the next time it happens.
- Players, coaches and fans must treat the umpire with respect.
- Protests of umpire's judgment calls including balls and strikes, arguing, baiting, yelling nice pitch before the umpire calls the pitch, etc. are all considered heckling.
- Umpires will report un-sportsmanlike heckling or conduct by players, coaches or spectators to the coach of the offending team. If a warning goes unheeded, the offender could face ejection from the field. The umpire has been instructed to report the matter to the Director of Umpires who will review and address the matter immediately with the Executive Board.