I would like to commend all of the umpires who have registered, viewed the clinic and passed the 2014 NCAA rules and mechanics test. In the next couple of days I will review the test and all responses. I want to thank you for your patience as some of the clinic glitches were addressed.
The SUP staff has observed umpire performances at various tournaments. The following three mechanic issues need to be addressed by all umpires.
Runner on third base only, U1 chases:
U3 needs to move across the diamond to pick up the runner touching first base and take her to second and possibly third. The plate umpire will have the tag at third base and the play at home.
Runner on first and second, or second only with no chase.
U1 should open up to read the throw. If the ball is thrown home, stay outside the diamond and be ready to make a call at either first or second base. You need to beware of the throwing lane.
Chasing fly balls:
There are four situations where you do not need to chase a fly ball.
If it is not one of these four situations it is your responsibility to CHASE !
1. An easy can of corn: a fielder that is camped under a high fly ball.
2. A hit that is clearly going over the homerun fence and fair and foul is not in play.
3. A ball that is clearly down as a base hit with no opportunity for a catch.
4. You are U1 and are rotated between first and second and the ball is hit down the first base line and likewise you are U3 rotated at second and the ball is hit down the third base line.
Recognize that by decreasing the distance between you and the call you increase the credibility of the call when you chase.
The season is just beginning; keep working hard, every pitch, every play every time.
The 2014 season is about to begin and many of you have already registered on the Central Hub, viewed the clinic and passed the 2014 rules and mechanics test. Congratulations, you have taken the first step towards a successful season. It is important that you visit the Hub on a regular basis as new rule clarifications and interpretations are posted on a weekly basis. A new feature “Dee’s Corner” is designed for all softball constituents to have access to information concerning rules and their applications. I highly recommend that you take the time and be as informed as possible when you take the field.
The clinic and rules test are now open. We are aware of and are currently working through some of the glitches with Arbiter. The test window will close on February 14 at 12:00pm EST. The clinic can be viewed again by accessing it through the link below:
Please do not use this link to view the clinic for credit.
“Focus, discipline, hard work, goal setting and, of course, the thrill of finally achieving your goals.
These are all lessons in life.”
–Kristi Yamaguchi, gold medalist in figure skating
These words by a former Olympian should resonate within every umpire as you prepare for opening day. Setting goals and creating an action plan that is focused on thorough knowledge, application and mechanics of rules as stated in the manual, along with discipline and hard work will have a positive effect on your ability to achieve your goals.
Are you ready for opening day, the first pitch, and the first play?
Remember the importance of a thorough pre-game with your partners. Discuss the new rule changes, mechanic changes, special situations and how to handle critical situations that may arise during the game. Let’s start the season off with a commitment to call an accurate and consistent strike zone. Both the rulebook and CCA manual have been updated with visual aids. Recognize that angles and calling distances should be a priority when moving to be in the best possible calling position.
Set your season goals, focus, and work hard, every pitch, every time on every play to experience the thrill of attaining your goal.
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows ~ Ralph Marston
It’s a New Year and a New Day!
Are you prepared today to meet the many challenges that lie ahead?
Have you made your list of New Year resolutions? Do your softball resolutions include the following?
• To be prepared for opening day by:
• Being in the best possible physical shape
• Comprehending the rulebook and the new rules
• Adhering to the mechanics manual
• Taking time for family and friends
Have you created your master plan to accomplish your resolutions?
Where possible look for an indoor facility to view pitches and try to work scrimmages to prepare for opening day.
Take care of your personal health; the student athletes are getting faster, stronger. Will you be able to keep up with the game?
Consider meeting with fellow umpires to discuss rules and mechanics. Have you viewed the latest videos and presentations located on the central hub?
Finally, take time for family and friends, they are your greatest supporters and cheerleaders. They will be there for you if you make them one of your priorities during the season.
The registration process is open and many umpires have already registered and received their rulebooks and manuals. The clinic and rules test are open. As you view the clinic and review the rule book take time to absorb the information presented prior to taking the 2014 rules and mechanics test. You will have two opportunities to pass the test with a score of 90. Use your book, the online rules database and manual to complete this task.
What you do today will influence your New Year’s resolutions and allow you to be prepared to meet the many challenges that lie ahead this season.
The journey begins today with every pitch on every play, every time!
Registration for the 2014 NCAA Softball Season is now open. Umpires from all levels are invited to register by clicking on the REGISTRATION tab and are encouraged to take advantage of all that is offered on the NCAA Softball central hub.
Those who register will receive access to the high-powered content successful umpires have come to expect and rely on, including the annual NCAA online preseason rules test, web-based video delivery, rule interpretations, and current educational material from the NCAA.
Registrants will receive a Welcome Packet that includes the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Softball Rules and Interpretations book and 2014 CCA Softball Umpires Manual.
Once the Welcome Packet has been processed for shipment, officials will receive an email from TrackingUpdates@fedex.com that contains the tracking number.
The 2014 NCAA Softball Rules and Mechanics Test will be open on the TESTING tab January 6 - February 14, 2014, with the test review available beginning on February 15, 2014. Also in January, the 2014 NCAA SUP Online Officiating Clinic will be available on the ONLINE CLINIC tab.
We believe your membership in Home Plate will provide a significant and positive effect for your collegiate experience. We sincerely thank you for taking part.
NCAA National Coordinator for Softball Umpires
Now, more than ever the accuracy of the strike zone is of ultimate importance. With the increasing number of collegiate games being televised each year, current technology is capable of showing fallacies in judgment far more than ever imagined. Because of this, the strike zone is constantly the hot topic of conversations of the SUP, college coaches, conference coordinators, umpires, players and the fans.
So, the question is; “What steps can umpires take to help be more accurate calling a consistent strike zone?” Several umpire development camps across the country offer tools to help umpires have a better understanding of the zone. One tool is the use of instant replay for each pitch at different angles to confirm the ball’s location as it crosses the plate. This allows the plate umpire to evaluate the call. These tools are impressive because they allow umpires to practice seeing an accurate strike zone, but they do not take into account game situations and pitchers’ inconsistencies.
In many other aspects of the game, umpires have opened themselves up to being thinking umpires by using progressive mechanics to become more accurate. On force plays, umpires no longer go to an arbitrary “X” on the ball field and make the call. Umpires find an angle to the throw that allows for the best chance to observe all elements of the play as they come together. Umpires no longer choose a static position on tag plays and remain in one place while the play happens. Now when necessary, umpires move with the play and dynamically find the best place to observe all the elements of the play. Umpires have a better chance of seeing the field by not moving into the infield on every play, but rather choosing a position either inside the diamond or outside the diamond that allows for the best chance to observe how the whole play develops.
In that vein of progressive thinking, umpires have a better chance of seeing and calling an accurate strike zone. In the past it was taught to establish a stance that places the umpire off the inside corner, above and outside the zone. This is a great position because it allows the plate umpire to see the outside corner and the entire plate. The only downside of this position is that it places the plate umpire a foot and a half away from a pitch on the outside corner which is probably the most difficult pitch to call.
So why stay where you are not in position to make the best call? In certain situations, umpires have to adjust away from the norm. When a batter is legally crowding the plate and the catcher is legally setting up inside, umpires must adjust to get a good look at the pitch. When the catcher is setting up high, umpires adjust from the norm to allow a view of the plate. So in the situations when the catcher sets up on the outside corner or further out, why shouldn’t the plate umpire move closer to see all they need to see? The answer is, “We should move to get a better look.”
The umpire’s manual defines the “slot” as the area between the catcher’s inside shoulder and the batter. It is in this area that the plate umpire must work to view the pitch. If the catcher has established herself on the outside corner, by the book umpires are able to work a little closer to her to get a little closer to the pitch’s intended location. This is a slight adjustment the plate umpire should take to see the entire plate and be far closer to the catcher’s current position. The plate umpire must actively be aware of the catcher’s movements, delayed as they may be, and use these clues to help get a better view of the zone. Remember, to be set when the pitch is released if you determine to move to the position giving you a better view.
Over the years umpires have had basic mechanics ingrained that might suggest if we move our head, we will move our strike zone. Is that true? Are we using the plate as a focal point to establish our zone? The plate never moves and we are responsible to compare the position of the ball to the static position of the plate. If our strike zone stretches outside with the movement of our head that means that we are using our imagination to establish the zone, rather than the plate.
Be aware that in doing this, the plate stance should remain rather consistent. But, the truth of the matter is that even though we try to mirror our stance side to side, pitch to pitch, our stance may inevitably alter slightly as we find better positions to see the pitches.
Every adjustment that umpires make is made solely for the purpose of giving themselves a better chance of getting the call right. If we have an opportunity to get closer to a pitch to accurately to see the pitch, then we should seize that opportunity. Make the best call under the best circumstances.
By Paul Edds and Donna Vavrinec
Attention: Procedural Changes
There are two new procedural changes:
1. Rule 13 Misconduct, section 13.1 effect states: “In all cases involving an ejection, the ejecting umpire is responsible for submitting in writing an incident report as soon as possible but no later than 72 hours after the incident.” After discussion with the NCAA rules committee it was asked if umpires could submit the incident report as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. Umpires should also contact Dee Abrahamson as soon as possible for protests or rule violations that carry a suspension in addition to the ejection. Take care of these administrative issues as quickly as possible.
2. Preventative umpiring: Rule 10.1.3 states: “The catcher must be within the catcher’s box from the time the pitcher steps on the pitcher’s plate until the pitch is released. No part of the catcher’s feet may be outside the lines until the pitch is released.” Effect: Illegal pitch. Exception: When time is called by the umpire.
Umpires are to use preventative umpiring when the catcher stands and moves in front of the plate to signal a possible play on a steal. Umpires should suspend play by calling “time” to allow the catcher to signal her infielders.
Attention: Umpire Uniform
There has been much discussion and many questions concerning umpire uniforms. The NCAA softball committee and the SUP have reviewed the umpire uniform and supports the rule that umpires across the country should be dressed alike. Rule 15.1 clearly states the approved umpire uniform. Please review Rule 15.1 page 187 in the 2012-2013 rule book. The standard uniform is located in section 220.127.116.11 and the only approved alternate uniform parts are detailed in 18.104.22.168. No other options are available.
Conferences may not change the color of shirts, jackets or pants; they may have conference affiliations embroidered on the caps and /or shirts for the use in conference play. This applies for all divisions.
When umpiring games for a cause umpires may wear a small ribbon/commemorative pin on your hat or on your left chest pocket in support of the cause. Alternate colored shirts, hats, ball bags, wrist bands and masks are not legal umpire uniforms and should not be worn when umpiring a collegiate softball game.
Attention: New Mechanic Changes for the 2013 season
There are two mechanic changes that are not in the 2013 CCA manual but will be used this year.
The change is in the umpire to umpire signals. Base umpires will now only signal to the plate umpire indicating that a third strike was not caught. It alerts all umpires to a potential play on the batter-runner. The signal is used at all times when the batter, by rule is entitled to run if the third strike is dropped. If the batter is out by rule do not use this signal. You no longer need to indicate that the ball was caught only if it was dropped. Please review the signal on page 293 of the CCA manual.
The second change is on a check swing request. The plate umpire by rule when asked to get help or if there is any doubt about a swing attempt shall ask for help from the open umpire. The open umpire must remain with the swing or action (bunt/slap) long enough to give help when asked even if a runner is attempting to steal. Please review the signal on page 295 of the CCA manual.
These changes occurred after much discussion with umpires, coordinators and the SUP staff.
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