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News and Announcements
  • 7/25/2018

    The Softball Rules Committee and Playing Rules Oversight Panel have approved one rules change for the 2019 season. The rules change can be found here.

  • 7/19/2018

    The second annual Softball Umpire Institute will be held at the USA Softball Complex in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, September 7-9, 2018. 

    Please click here for more information.

  • 5/9/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    We begin our postseason journey in earnest today. Many D1 conference championships are throwing first pitches today, DII and DIII regionals begin tomorrow, and some conferences are completing last conference series games this weekend.  Our rhythm, focus and mechanics are grooved at this point of the season; do not try to change mechanics at this point – prepare your body and minds for the game today and just naturally – go umpire.

    We want to thank you for your dedication to the softball umpire program and whether you are or are not umpiring in the days ahead – please support our team of officials that are representing our community in the postseason.  This is a team approach and we want every umpire to be successful in our continued pursuit of excellence.

    We continue to work diligently and thoroughly on postseason selections for all divisions.  We plan to post assignments for next week games as follows: DII and DIII super regionals on Sunday and D1 regionals’ selections on Monday.  We plan to complete assignments in Arbiter sports by 6:00 EST Monday, May 14.  If assigned, please accept within the hour.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 5/2/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week thirteen is in the books and we are in the home stretch.  Now is the time to reinvigorate, take stock in how we have performed during the season so far and work at our highest level throughout the remaining regular season and postseason.  We love the month of May and we know why – “heightened competition!”  Rise to the occasion – compete!  We will continue our focus on an accurate strike zone, crewmanship and getting the calls right.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    1.  Review the first twelve posts and all the videos.

    2.  At this point of the year, we feel the grind, take a deep breath – plan your road trips with some buffer, make sure you have adequate time to sleep. Prepare like an athlete.

    3.  Consider and pre-pitch this situation as the PU: “Runner on third less than two outs”, squeeze play or ground ball to infield occurs with throw to the plate – quickly move to a position to umpire the catchers position ahead of receiving the ball – consider the wedge as your choice and judge obstruction or not obstruction, umpire the tag play and consider the collision rule if circumstances occur.  These plays happen in seconds and we need to prepare our minds and subsequent movements.

    4.  Consider and pregame this situation/rotation adjustment: “Runner on first base who is running on the release of the pitch and a ground ball to the 3B or catcher, the ball is overthrown at first base” – the next likely play is a throw from the right fielder to the catcher at the plate for a play on U1.  As the PU reads the play, considering the position of U1 and R1, then verbalizes to U1- “I’ve got the plate!” PU then takes the play at plate on R1 – U3 takes batter runner into 2nd and possibly into third. U1 backs off his movement towards the plate, stays at first and observes as another set of eyes.  We need great verbal communication and eye contact for this adjusted rotation.

    5.  Consider and pregame this situation/rotation adjustment: “Runner on first base and a bunt or slow roller along first or third base line, R1 is running on the release of the pitch”. The PU stays with fair/foul call on the line, U3 takes R1 into 2B and 3B verbalizing “I’ve got third!”  U1 stays with batter runner at 1B and possibly into 2B. PU remains at the plate for any play on R1 or batter runner.

    We are working diligently and thoroughly on postseason selections for all divisions.  The DII and DIII regionals begin May 10 and we plan to have those assignments posted in Arbiter sports by 6:00 EST Monday, May 7.  If assigned, please accept within the hour.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

    More...
  • 4/25/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week twelve is in the books and teams are playing for regional seeds, conference standings and championships.  Let’s continue our focus and dedication to an accurate strike zone and getting the calls right.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    Coach umpire conversation considerations:

    1.  Don’t anticipate – listen, listen, listen.
    2.  Stand shoulder to shoulder if possible.
    3.  Be aware of your non-verbal presentation - show approachability.
    4.  Remove sunglasses and have eye contact with the coach.
    5.  If exchange is emotional, attempt to bring it down to a conversation by asking a question, “Coach, what did you see?  Then, you can briefly talk through what you had on the play.
    6.  Use the warnings appropriately, many times they can escalate a situation or they can end a conversation.  Be prudent and unemotional when issuing warnings.

    Set position calls:

    1.  Be in a set position whenever possible for standard force plays, catch/no catch plays and fair/foul calls.
    2.  On chases, break your momentum into steps: set before the action takes place, not as the action occurs (this also applies to force plays on the infield).
    3.  On balls beyond the fence and near the foul line, move to and straddle the line (do not run down the line), pick up the flight of the ball and rule as the ball crosses the fence in relation to the foul pole – signal appropriately and soon after the ball crosses the fence.
    4.  On hard hit balls near the line, give up the distance in order to come to a complete stop, head still, eyes set and locked in on first contact of batted ball with ground or player.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 4/18/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week eleven is in the books and the regular season is down to three or four weeks.  Stay focused, be prepared and continue to work hard as a crew as we move into week twelve.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    Sometimes, the pace of the game can be significantly impacted by the amount of time that a coach takes during a defensive conference. This is an area for the plate umpire to professionally and respectfully maintain a reasonable flow in the game.

    Here are some pointers when there is a visit to the pitcher:

    1)  When the coach goes to the circle, position yourself on that team's foul line while you document the conference. This allows you to non-verbally communicate the charge as she/he returns to the dugout. (NOTE: if the game is contentious, stand on the other foul line.)

    2) How long should the visit last?  It is your judgement; however, consider these unwritten rules of thumb:  If the head coach goes to the circle, count to approximately 20. If an assistant goes, count to approximately 15. If a player goes, count to approximately 5.  These are not hard-fast times, but they generally work most of the time.

    3) When you decide to go to the circle, walk with your head up and with a steady purpose. This is not time to look timid, nor is it a time to look aggressive. You have a job to do, so walk directly to the circle. Position yourself on the outer ring of the huddle in the coach's line of vision. If the coach does not break it up shortly, then ask, "Are you about ready to play?"   Manage this situation respectfully but without reservation.

    4) If the coach makes a pitching change, be mindful of the potential delay caused by the relief pitcher continuing to throw in the bullpen before reporting to the field. If you notice the new pitcher is not headed to the field, ask the nearest base umpire to summon her.  The base umpire should jog toward the bullpen and when within earshot, say something like "Number 47, come to the mound." 

    5) Coaches often use the charged conference as a chance to complain about balls and strikes. Manage this behavior the same as you would if they complained elsewhere.

    Also, Quiz 3 has been posted, please take advantage of this learning opportunity.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 4/10/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week ten is in the books.  Stay focused and continue thorough pre-game and post-game discussions every game – these procedures are just as important now as they were early in the year.

    As you are aware, the post season availability and affiliation form has been posted by link. If you are post season eligible, please complete this form by the deadline, 11:59 PM Thursday April 12, 2018.  You will not receive a confirmation email; however, at moment of submittal you will receive a note stating “Thank You. Your information has been received.” All umpires who met the postseason requirements for a division are under consideration for postseason assignments in the appropriate division.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    Checked Swings:

    Review the rule and procedures for 11.10 Checked Swing on page 96 of the rule book. In addition to rule book procedures, consider the following:

    1.  PU needs to work hard to make this judgement. If a swing is judged, a strike is called.  If the pitch is in the strike zone and the swing is marginal, call the pitch a strike rather than addressing the check swing action.

    2.  If PU is unsure of attempted swing – go for help before being asked by catcher.

    3.  PU should have a consistent and emotionless mechanic when asking for help.  The urgency of the request may vary considering the circumstances of the game, but the tone and emotion should remain constant.  The preferred method is to quickly remove your mask, take one step to the side and in the direction of the open umpire, point with your right hand and ask “Did she go?”.

    4.  If possible third strike is dropped and situation allows batter runner to attempt to advance to 1B and PU is not sure of swing – quickly ask the base umpire “Did she go?” Base umpire responds promptly.

    5.  As a base umpire: pre-pitch check swing responsibility, if responsible and after pitched ball is released, “focus your eyes on the bat for possible swing”, if no bat movement, refocus on other help responsibilities at the plate. Give appropriate answer “Yes” or “No” and signal an out or a safe.

    6.  Base umpires, even when in a rotated or counter rotated position our check swing responsibilities remain – our prospective is more challenging from this position; however, we must be aware and focused to see and judge this action accurately.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff  

    More...
  • 4/9/2018

    Umpires:

    If you have met all eligibility requirements for NCAA softball postseason (all divisions), please go to the link below and complete the availability/affiliation form.  All eligible umpires must complete this form. 

    Go to the Postseason Availability and Affiliation form.

  • 4/4/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week nine is over and we are in the middle of conference and important regional games.  As we move along, we would like to share a few thoughts for your consideration.   Overall, we have taken on some major rule changes this year and sometimes we get overloaded with “we have to make this new call.”  Please just relax and do what you do best – make good sound decisions.  An old saying applies, “Let the game come to us, don’t go get the game.”  In other words, slow down (slow-motion), let the whole play complete itself, render a decision and then make your signal.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    Accurate Strike Zone:  We are seeing an improvement in this area – stay the course.  Call the entire vertical zone as defined in the Rules Book: the area from top of the ball below the sternum to 3.82” below the top of knee.  Make the ball touch the white horizontally (24.64”).  This is the NCAA strike zone.

    More on Obstruction: 

    1)  Consider the timing of the play – allow the catcher or defensive player time to adjust their position from blocking the plate/base/base path ahead of the action of the play.  If she camps there and stays there, then call obstruction.  If she is there momentarily ahead of the play and she adjust her position to a non-blocking position-allow this action.

    2)  Be prepared to explain your decision of why you called or did not call obstruction, if asked by a coach.  Do not demonstrate or allow a coach to demonstrate the actions of the play; instead, verbalize, “Coach, let’s just talk about this play.”

    3)  If obstruction is called and the obstructed runner is put out before reaching the base she should have reached on the play, the mechanic sequence is:

    a.  Verbalize “Obstruction” and signal Obstruction.

    b.  Immediately after the runner is tagged out, verbalize and signal “Dead Ball.”

    c.  Verbalize “The runner is safe at this base/plate” and point to the base/plate she is awarded. 

    d.  The remaining umpires must rule on the runners’ positions at the time of the suspension of play by the calling umpire (Pg. 75, Rule 9.5.3.1. to 9.5.3.6, Note #1… “other runners would be awarded the next base provided they had advanced more than halfway to the next base….).

    Reminder: the second quiz has been posted and is available until April 9, 2018.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 3/28/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week eight is over.  Thank you for your dedication to NCAA softball.  We appreciate you and thank your families and friends for supporting you.  Teams are adjusting playing actions concerning the new obstruction and illegally batted ball rules.  Please continue to follow guidance associated with these new rules and work angles to view and rule on these plays accurately.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    This week, we would like to focus on the Collision Rule 12.13 on pages 119 and 120 of our rule book.  In all cases of 12.13.1, the fielder must be in clear possession of the ball. There were several collisions this past weekend that were not called and we would like to offer some thoughts for consideration.

    On tag plays at any base/plate we are seeing runners violating the rule 12.13.1.3 “The runner may not attempt to dislodge the ball from the fielder.  Contact above the waist shall be judged by the umpire as an attempt by the runner to dislodge the ball.”  The runner can prevent a deliberate crash ruling violation by being on the ground, jumping over, going around or returning to the prior base.  Even if the player is attempting to avoid the collision by slowing down or side stepping, however; in spite of the adjustment, forceful contact occurs above the waist, call the collision dead ball rule.

    On force plays at 1B, we know that runners are not expected to hit the ground or slide at first base, therefore; there is additional judgement involved concerning these collision rulings.  In considering 12.13.1.2-5:  Did she throw her arms into fielder?  Was the defensive player waiting to apply a tag and did the runner crash into the fielder with great force? Did the throw take the fielder into or through the path and was the collision unavoidable? Depending on the play, the possible ruling is collision or that’s nothing.

    If obstruction occurs prior to the crash on either a tag or force play regardless of what base or plate the collision occurs, then obstruction is ignored, and the collision rule must be enforced.  If the act is determined to be flagrant, the offender will be ejected without warning.  Use your best judgement on a flagrant ruling – if the act is a no doubter, then eject; however, if doubt exists do not eject immediately, bring crew together for discussion of degree of collision and the calling umpire makes final decision of disqualification ruling.

    As discussed last week, there are numerous considerations we are umpiring on each play, outs/safes, obstruction? interference? collision?  Pregame and pre-pitch these circumstances and review the tools presented in week seven.

    As the rule book states, the rules committee is concerned about unnecessary and violent collisions with the catcher at home plate and with infielders at all bases.  The intent of this rule is to encourage runners and defensive players to avoid such collisions whenever possible.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 3/21/2018

    Hello Umpires, 

    We are now in week seven, season is moving right along.! Today we want to continue educating “umpiring the obstruction and collision rules.” Our goal is for the calling umpire to make a proper ruling on these plays and rarely have to seek help from the crew to “Get the call right.”  We have asked officials that have had positive experiences with these calls to share techniques that are working well for them – please study carefully their responses below:

    Umpiring Obstruction and Collision rules

    As the season has progressed, we’ve had many challenging situations with the revised obstruction rule on a thrown ball. As we revisit the definition of the rule, what changes do we need to make to successfully apply the rule as it is written:

    “It is obstruction if a defensive player is blocking the whole base/plate or base path without the ball and/or the runner does not have a clear path to the base/plate” and since the fielder must now be in possession of the ball when she blocks the base/plate or base path, umpires must be aware of the defender’s location relative to the base/plate and runner’s base path at all times throughout a play.

    For years, most of us would watch the flight of the ball and let it bring us to the play as we tried to determine where the tag was likely to be applied, while watching for obstruction.

    As the teaching of our craft has advanced, our positioning can be dynamic as the plays dictates, but the basic factors remain the same: we must position ourselves in such a way that we are able to get a clear view of the foot and body placement of the defender, the base/plate, the runner’s path and ultimately the tag. To borrow a long-standing adage from basketball officiating, we must “referee the defense.”  On a play at the plate, this positioning will most often NOT be in the traditional first base line extended position.  If we are able to use point of plate, our movement to obtain the best look at the fielder’s location will likely be a few steps to our right.  If we also have 3rd base responsibilities, we must move as quickly as possible to get into a position to observe the fielder’s location.  In all cases, we must continue to adjust, using the “wedge” concept, and umpire subsequent action, including the tag and the runner’s actions. The following steps are to give us a better photographic memory of reading the play as it develops:

    • Initial set up of the fielder: Is the fielder blocking the whole base/plate or base path without the ball?  If so, we need to stay attuned, but hold the obstruction call.  If she stays there and the runner is not “clearly beaten by the throw,” call obstruction (see Vickie’s Interpretation of Rule 9.5 Note 3 – Obstruction - December 15, 2017).
    • Subsequent movement of fielder: If the fielder’s initial set up is legal, but she repositions herself to catch the throw and it causes her to block the entire base/plate or base path without the ball, call obstruction. If the fielder’s initial set up is not legal, but she is able to realize it and adjust to a legal position soon enough, it is not obstruction.
    • Runner’s path: The path chosen by the runner will have some relevance when we determine if the fielder is blocking the whole base/plate or base path.  For example, if the catcher has her left foot touching the 3rd base line and her right foot in fair territory, but the runner takes a wide turn at 3rd base and heads home significantly in foul territory, her path to the plate may indeed be open.  We must recognize the fielder’s set up and look to see if the runner has a clear path to the base/plate. Again, at home, this is probably more obvious from a position somewhere between the point of plate and 3rd base line extended.
    • Subsequent actions:  If we rule obstruction, our job on the play is not over.  If the runner is apparently put out, the ball is dead, the obstructed runner is awarded the base and other runners are placed according to whether they are “halfway to the next base” (Rule 9.5.3 Note: 1).  If the runner is safe, the ball remains live.  If the runner violates Rule 12.13, the enforcement of a deliberate crash would take precedence over the obstruction.  The ball is dead, and the runner is out, possibly ejected, and runners must return to the base occupied at the time of the collision.
    • Collisions/crashes: If the runner is apparently out, or if you call obstruction and there is subsequent contact which could be ruled a deliberate crash, and you have doubt, this is a good time to bring the crew together after the ball is dead to discuss. The questions to the crew should be, “Was there a violation of the collision rule? If so, was the act a flagrant infraction?
    • Tools: Obstruction and collisions are big plays, so consider the following words to ask yourself as the play is developing: “Is she in the way? I must see the whole play.” And “If she blocks, don’t let her get clocked.”
    • Perspective of U3 when a play is made at the plate: Often,U3 is in a position to provide help for the blocking of the base/plate or base path. However, U3 should not come in unsolicited with any information.  If the Plate umpire rules obstruction, then he/she has viewed an obstruction infraction has occurred and must stay with the call.  Remember, this is an absolute call – we do not make this call unless we are 100% sure of an infraction. 
    • If the plate umpire had doubt of his call once the play is completely over, he/she may seek help from their crew to “Get the Call Right.” The discussions in the crew huddle should be, “I could not determine if obstruction occurred. During the “action of play,” where was the runner? Where was the fielder?  Was the fielder blocking the whole path ahead of possession?” If any crew member answers yes, ask “Are you absolutely sure?

    As earlier stated, we are ALL learning how to officiate the new changes and we will continue to provide as many tools as possible to help assist all of us on “Getting the Call Right.”

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff!

 
 
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