“The best way to predict the future is to create it”
Welcome back! Fall softball season has arrived and many of you have already accepted and are working fall games. Now is a great time for you to prepare for the upcoming season.
This year the “In Focus Topics” and “Mechanics Updates” are posted to allow you to review them and incorporate them into your fall season.
2017 In Focus Topics: In focus this year are topics that need our continued attention. They are calling an accurate strike zone, hit by pitch and illegally batted balls. See the attachment for more information.
2017 Mechanics Updates: The mechanic changes this year address the umpire positioning that will allow you to have the best view to make the call. Umpires are expected to use the standard starting positions, areas of coverage and approved plate stances when working NCAA games. The manual has addressed these issues plus reinforced areas that need our constant attention. See the attachment for more information.
The dates and location of the 2017 clinics will be posted on the Central Hub once the registration period opens.
What will your future look like?
Your future begins now, with every pitch, every time on every play!
NCAA Softball National Coordinator
Congratulations to all of the umpires selected to work postseason championship play!
I would also like to extend a special thank you to the entire group of registered SUP umpires, coordinators and the SUP staff for your commitment to the SUP program. FULL ARTICLE
"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, Love of what you are doing.”
Congratulations to everyone who are selected to work a conference championship and/or the NCAA Division I, II or III postseason tournaments.
These assignments are a reflection of your effort, attitude, and ability to manage the game while adhering to the NCAA philosophies.
The next few weeks will be extremely tense as teams vie for a post-season selection and a National Championship. You will need to work even harder as each decision made on the field by a player, coach or umpire may impact the game.
The things you can control are your actions and your knowledge. Stay focused, be the calming factor in each game.
· Review the rulebook
· Know the DP/Flex rule inside and out.
· Read all of the interpretations and ERA’S by Vickie Van Kleeck secretary rules editor.
Work together with your crew.
· Before the game have a thorough in-depth pre-game.
o Discuss fly ball coverage and chase responsibilities.
o Review tag-up responsibilities.
o Discuss standard mechanics and how you will communicate any breakdown.
· During the game communicate with each other.
o Be prepared for the rivalry and intensity of the game.
o Be alert to the flow of the game.
o Listen and address all questions in a professional manner.
· After the game:
o Be alert for any possible appeals or protests.
o Walk with your partners to the locker room
o Once you are in the locker room discuss:
· Everything that went well in the game
· Look up any questions concerning rules or mechanics.
· Discuss where you can improve as a crew.
You have worked extremely hard to prepare for this moment. Be confident that you earned your assignment by your efforts on the field and your ability to successfully manage the game. The stakes are high for all parties.
Work hard on every pitch on every play, every time!
NCAA Softball National Coordinator
NCAA softball is pleased to inform you that Jim Sanderson has been selected as the newest member of the SUP regional advisor staff. Jim is from Calimesa, California and brings a wealth of knowledge to the SUP. Jim is currently the chairman of the California Collegiate Softball Umpires Association where he facilitates umpire training and evaluations. Jim has also served as a UIC for the NCAA Division I softball regionals.
Please click the link under GENERAL UMPIRING INFORMATION to read Top 9 Questions.
“Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but improves its chances.”
The heart of the season is about to begin and we must continue to stay focused and alert. Continue to review the rulebook and the entire rule interpretations posted on the Central HUB. Vickie’s ERA’s are a good source of rule clarification and reminders. Games are being televised and we are looking to see who is adhering to proper mechanics, applying correct rule interpretations and exhibiting good game management. Full article
The last day to view the 2016 NCAA Softball Online Clinic for eligibility credit is Tuesday, March 29, 2016.
As previously noted in the Eligibility Update information, any umpire who wishes to be eligible for Division II or Division III postseason assignment must watch the entire clinic. If you attended one of the regional clinics, you have satisfied this requirement and do not need to view the online clinic. You cannot view the clinic on a mobile device.
PLEASE NOTE: If you believe you've viewed the clinic in its entirety but did not receive your certificate of completion and a green checkmark in your Eligibility Center, you must sign back into the clinic to ensure you've viewed 100 percent of the video slides and listened to 100 percent of the audio. Any percentage less than 100 will not prompt the completion certificate or green check mark in your Eligibility Center.
Postseason letters will be sent out on Wednesday, March 30, 2016.
Please note that if you attended an In-Person Clinic, your "2016 In-Person Clinic Attendance" has been updated in your central hub Eligibility Center with a green check mark.
You will not have a green check mark for the Division II and III "2016 NCAA Softball Online Clinic" requirement if you fulfilled the clinic requirement by attending the In-Person clinic, but did not watch the Online Clinic.
The attendance at an In-Person Clinic, under the "2015-16 Division I Postseason Eligibility" will count as your eligibility for all three divisions.
“Game management, game decisions, adjustments, and seeing things during the game – it’s all important.”
The 2016 season is off to a good start. The 2016 Clinic will be posted this week for all to review. All Division II and III umpires who wish to be considered for postseason must view the entire clinic. The clinic PowerPoints have been posted on the Central Hub. Full Article
The 2016 NCAA Rules and Mechanics test is closed. This year, 1,416 umpires completed the test. Congratulations to everyone who passed the test! Great Job!
There were some umpires who were not able to view the test due to glitches in the system. These umpires have been identified and will receive further instructions from ArbiterSports.
After reviewing the test questions and answers we have determined that three questions will be re-scored from the test. Only adjustments will be made if you scored them incorrectly. You will not get another email with your corrected score, but it will show up on your dashboard.
Test scores will reflect the deletion of these questions.
• On a play at first base, the throw bounces and the first baseman securely controls the ball between her arm and her body just before the batter-runner touches the base. The batter–runner out. The correct answer should be False.
• The fielder blocks the base as she is about to receive the thrown ball but is not yet in the act of catching it as the runner alters her path. This is not obstruction. More information is needed before a judgment can be made.
• Only starting players must be present in the dugout when the game starts. The question is partially correct, the questions should read: All players listed in the starting line-up must be in uniform, in the dugout area and available to play at the start of the game. Rule 5.6.3.notes 2.
· The 2016 NCAA Softball Rules and Mechanics Test will close on Friday February 19 at 11:59pm EST. You will then be able to review the test questions.
· Take time to review the rule interpretations, clarifications and general umpire information posted on the Central Hub
· Watch the “You Make the Call Videos.” These are game situations based on the 2016 Rules and Interpretations.
· Continue to read, study, and understand the rules of the game. Especially:
o Line-up card management
o Batting out of order
o Game Management
As you enter into the third week of the season.
Keep working hard, every pitch, every play every time!
Please click here to read Rule 10: Pitching Procedure - Clarification of the 2-second Pause by Pitchers.
“Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievement.”
The 2016 season is about to begin and many of you have already registered on the Central Hub, attended the 2016 in-person rules clinic and passed the 2016 rules and mechanics test. Congratulations, you have taken the first steps towards a successful season! It is important that you visit the Central Hub on a regular basis as new rule interpretations and mechanic updates will be posted as soon as possible for all umpires to view.
The 2016 in-person rules and mechanics clinics were a huge success. I would like to thank the over 650 umpires who attended one of the three clinics. I would also like to thank all the volunteers who helped with registration. It truly was a team effort!
The video of the Indianapolis clinic will be posted for all to view. All Division II and III umpires who wish to be eligible for postseason must watch the video when it becomes available.
Work to become: A Better “U.M.P.I.R.E.”
The test window will close on February 19th at 11:59pm EST. There are no exceptions to the deadline, so please plan ahead to complete the test on time. You can still complete the test by using the on-line searchable rules book and CCA manual. If you have not received your rules book or CCA manual please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the test period is complete all test questions with the correct answers will be available for you to review.
Please review the Manual section of the Central Hub for all the current updates and corrections.
Please review the following:
1. Mechanic update: In order to get the call correct: when a pitch hits a batter, the plate umpire should say, “dead ball” and use the dead ball signal. This will allow the plate umpire time to process whether the ball was completely in the batter’s box when the batter was hit by the pitch. This may also provide time to confirm if the pitch hit the batter; if the batter attempted to swing at the pitch; or if the bat made contact with the ball before hitting the batter.
2. Bat Check procedures:This only applies to games, series or tournament games using BCT.
All umpires are to follow the procedure in the Rules Book page 37, Rule 188.8.131.52.1. After the first game of a doubleheader, series or tournament, the umpire crew need only confirm the suitability of each bat by checking for damage and verify the total number of available, stickered bats rather than reconcile each individual model of the bat with the team’s highlighted bat list. Exception: If a new bat list is published when a series or tournament is in progress, Rule 184.108.40.206.1 shall not apply and each bat model shall be individually reconciled with the new NCAA Approved Softball bat List.
3. Chasing: Situational Mechanic: 3-Man System Only
U1 is counter rotated in any of these situations:
· Less than two outs
· Runners on firstand second base or a runner on second only, or
· Two outs with runners on first and third or bases loaded.
The batter hits a fly ball that is near the foul line. U1 can chase on a possible trap near the foul line. The plate umpire has fair or foul responsibility and U1 determines catch or no catch.
This mechanic should only be used if the ball is near the foul line and there is a possibility of a trapped ball that the plate umpire might not see.
This year we are adding a section of video clips titled “You Make the Call” along with continuing with our weekly quizzes. Reviewing them is not mandatory, but highly recommended. Once you complete a quiz you are able to review your quiz by returning to the dashboard and selecting “Review Your Test”.
We will continue to improve our line of communication by updating the information posted in the Umpire Wellness and General Umpire Information section of the Central Hub so look for new posts.
Vickie’s Corner will continue to house all information concerning interpretations, rules and their application. I highly recommend that you take the time to review her material and be as informed as possible when you take the field.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Alexander Graham Bell
In closing, I would like to challenge each of you to prepare for a successful season by setting your goals, staying focused, and working hard with the determination that will allow you to:
Be ready for every pitch on every play, every time!
NCAA Softball National Coordinator
The 2016 Softball Umpire Rules and Mechanics Clinic will take place this weekend at the NCAA National Office: 700 W. Washington St, Indianapolis, IN. Parking is available at the museum located next to the National Office.
There are over 200 umpires registered and walk-ons are accepted at the door. Registration is from 7-8am. The meeting will start at 8am and conclude by noon. You will receive a nametag that you will need to scan at the end of the meeting to confirm your attendance. Various conference coordinators will meet with their umpires after the clinic.
“Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book.
Write a good one.”
Happy New Year!
The beginning of a New Year offers us the opportunity to reflect on last year’s events, celebrate our successes, learn from our failures and set new goals for the months to come.
Develop your goals for the upcoming season by creating a positive vision to formulate your road map to success. Create an action plan that will help keep you focused on your goals.
What does 2016 have in store for you?
What amazing things will happen to you in 2016?
The answer to these questions, lie ahead as you prepare for the approaching season. The possibilities are wide open with multiple paths to make this your amazing year.
Are you registered on the SUP Home Plate web site? Have you begun preparing for the season by reading the 2016-2017 NCAA Rules Book and CCA manual? Did you register for one of the upcoming clinics? All of these actions can have a positive effect on your amazing year.
Opening day is around the corner; you must be ready for action on the first pitch, the first play, every time.
What will your amazing story be for the 2016 season?
NCAA National Coordinator of Umpires
The Collegiate Commissioners Association and ArbiterSports, in partnership with Referee Enterprises, the publishers of Referee magazine and the CCA Mechanics Manuals, are pleased to announce the digital edition of the 2016 CCA manual for all NCAA registered softball umpires is now available for download on the iTunes Store and on Google Play. It will work with any Apple or Android device. Through the app, registered umpires will be able to download their CCA manual for free as part of their annual NCAA dues.
The digital CCA manual will be available in addition to the printed CCA manual that the NCAA currently provides to registered umpires. Click the Softball CCA Manual APP link when logged onto the hub for instructions to download the app.
Family, Friends and Traditions.
As the holiday season approaches I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and a wonderful New Year!
Many of you have already started the process of REGISTERING for the 2016 season. You will receive a Welcome Packet that includes the 2016-2017 NCAA Softball Rule Book and a copy of the new 2016 CCA Softball Umpires Manual.
The digital CCA manual app for all registered softball umpires is available as a free download on the iTunes Store and on Google Play. It will work with any Apple or Android device.
The NCAA Preseason Rules test will open on the TESTING tab January 18 through February 18, 2016. The test will close at 11:59pm EST on February 18, 2016. All umpires who wish to be considered for post season must pass the test with a score of 90.
The 2016 NCAA In-Person Officiating Clinic registration is still open. I would like to thank everyone who have already registered and remind those who have not it is required for all Division I umpires who wish to be considered for post-season and highly recommended for all Division II and III umpires. If you have not already registered for one of the three clinics registration please do so today.
Also in February, the 2016 version of the Online Clinic will be available on the ONLINE CLINIC tab. All Division II and III umpires, who did not attend the In-Person Clinic who wish to be considered for postseason selection, must view the clinic.
The Central Hub continues to be enhanced with the ONLINE SEARCHABLE RULES database, interpretations and video training segments aimed to assist all umpires.
I ask that you begin your preparation for the 2016 season by not only reviewing the rules and mechanics but prepare yourself physically by addressing your fitness and health. Please do not neglect this aspect of your preparation. The student-athlete is getting faster and stronger each year, and as umpires we must be able to respond to the improved level of play.
Please take the time this holiday season to thank your family and friends for their continued support and understanding as you dedicate a great deal of time and energy into a profession that you truly love. Their support is vital. Recharge your batteries; prepare yourself both mentally and physically the 2016 season is just around the corner!
Thank you for making this past year a great success. I look forward to an exciting New Year working with you to make this season the best for all involved!
NCAA National Coordinator of Umpires
Registration for the 2015-16 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 2016 and 2017 NCAA Softball Rules and Interpretations book and 2016 CCA Softball Umpires Manual.
The 2016 NCAA Softball Rules and Mechanics Test will be open on the TESTING Tab January 18 - February 18, 2016 with the test review available beginning on February 19, 2016.
Also in January, look on the Central Hub for the locations and times of the 2016 NCAA In-Person Officiating Clinic. The online clinic will open in February.
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
Registration for the Central Hub will open on December 1, 2015.
The sites and dates for the three regional clinics are posted on the Central Hub. When registering for the clinic, use the SAME EMAIL ADDRESS to register for the clinic that you will use to complete the NCAA registration.
If you use a different email address, YOU WILL NOT SHOW as having completed the clinic in your Central Hub Eligibility center.
All Division I umpire’s who wish to be considered for post season should attend the in-person clinic. It is strongly recommend that all Division II and III umpires attend the clinic. In order to meet eligibility all Division II and III umpires will need to view the posted clinic beginning February 3, 2016.
The following conference coordinators will meet at the following sites after the clinic from Noon to 5pm.
Lurline Hamilton: Atlanta
Joanne Vendito: California
Sally Walker; Atlanta, California, Indianapolis
Mike Raynor: Atlanta
Dave Neidlinger: Atlanta and California
Mickey Call: Atlanta
Jim Williams: Atlanta
Dora Martinez, Atlanta
If your conference coordinator is not listed please contact them to see if they are meeting at a specific site.
The NCAA seeks a qualified independent contractor to further the NCAA's ongoing commitment to improving the overall quality and consistency of umpiring throughout collegiate softball. The positions of regional advisor for NCAA softball shall provide assistance to the National Coordinator for NCAA softball umpiring (and, ultimately, the NCAA Softball Committees) to further the NCAA’s ongoing commitment to improving the overall quality and consistency of umpiring throughout collegiate softball. Please click here to view the requirements and responsibilities.
Please click here to view 2016 and 2017 NCAA Softball Rules Book Corrections.
The 2015 NCAA Fall Softball Quiz #1 is posted under the testing tab. The quiz is OPTIONAL and does not count toward postseason eligibility. You will be able to review your quiz after submitting it by returning to the testing dashboard and selecting "Review Your Test."
“Practice every time you get a chance.”
Fall softball season has arrived and many of you have already accepted and are working fall games. This is the perfect time to reflect on your past season, self -assess your performance, create goals and execute your personal action plan.
Coaches and players also use this time to prepare for theirupcoming season. Take advantage of this great opportunity to incorporate all that you have learned this past season and how you will use this to prepare for your up coming season.
Be mindful that you only get one chance for a first great impression. Now is the time to replace and order equipment and uniforms for the season.
Update your availability calendar with your coordinators; let them know you are willing to work the fall season.
Please visit the Central Hub often this fall. The new rules book is available on ArbiterSports. Please view the 2016-2017 rules book on the Central HUB under Rules and Clarification and the Rules Book tab. The CCA manual will be posted on the Central Hub within the next few weeks.
In the upcoming weeks you will receive information concerning this year’s clinic. Remember to visit the Central Hub for all the latest information…..Remember:
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
“I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen.”
Welcome back! The fall season is about to begin and I can hear the sounds of pitchers and catchers, the crack of the bat but most of all I hear the roar of umpires preparing for the upcoming season.
Something good is happening! When given the opportunity all umpires should:
* Work as many scrimmages as possible.
* Call balls and strikes in batting cages.
* Improve your personal physical fitness.
* Review the 2016-2017 NCAA Rules and Interpretation book.
* Review all the 2016 rule and mechanic changes on the Central HUB.
This fall teams will be playing using the 2016-2017 NCAA Softball Rules Changes and Common Practices which are located on the Central Hub. Please take time to familiarize your self with the new rule changes. The current bat list is listed on the Central Hub along with all the information concerning the use of the 2015 experimental rule; “Statistical Information and Electronic Equipment.”
The 2016-2017 rules book will be available electronically on the Central Hub. Printed copies along with your 2016 CCA manual will be sent with your NCAA membership.
The In Focus and Mechanic Changes and Updates are posted to allow you to incorporate them during the fall season.
2016 In Focus Topics:
The In Focus areas this year includes: calling an accurate strike zone, hit by pitch, line-up card management, obstruction, and professionalism. Click here for the In Focus attachment.
2016 Mechanic Updates:
I would like to thank everyone who submitted a response to the mechanics survey. Based on that data collected there are no new major mechanic changes only a few changes in mechanic language. There will be one minor change in mechanics for a three-person crew. This year’s new mechanic and updates are available. Click here for the Mechanic Changes and Updates attachment.
I would like to thank the coordinators and umpires for all of your continued hard work and support. This past summer the SUP had the opportunity to work with many of you at various camps and clinics. It was refreshing to see you commit to excellence. We all must to continue to set our goals high and create an action plan to that end. Hold fast to your dreams and continuously work to make your dreams a reality.
The best is yet to come! Work hard, every pitch, every play, every time.
After hearing concerns from the membership, the NCAA Softball Rules Committee and NCAA Playing Rules Overisght Panel (PROP) voted to delay implementation of new Rules 5.9.3 – 5.9.8, which were previously approved and sent to the membership. In addition, the committee and PROP approved the use of these rules on an optional, experimental basis for the Fall 2015 nonchampionship segment.More...
Please click here to read 2016 and 2017 Approved Softball Rules Changes (8/13/15).
2015 NCAA Softball Quiz #6 is now available under the TESTING tab. The quiz is OPTIONAL and does not count toward postseason eligibility. You will be able to review your quiz after submitting it by returning to the testing dashboard and selecting "Review Your Test."
2015 NCAA Softball Quiz #5 is now available under the TESTING tab. The quiz is OPTIONAL and does not count toward postseason eligibility. You will be able to review your quiz after submitting it by returning to the testing dashboard and selecting "Review Your Test."
Please click the link to view NCAA Softball Rules Interpretations and Clarifications Memorandum.
2015 NCAA Softball Quiz #4 is now available under the TESTING tab. The quiz is OPTIONAL and does not count toward postseason eligibility. The quiz contains 10 questions. You will be able to review your quiz after submitting it by returning to the testing dashboard and selecting "Review Your Test."
The 2015 NCAA Softball Quiz #3 is posted under the testing tab. The quiz is OPTIONAL and does not count toward postseason eligibility. The quiz contains 5 questions. You will be able to review your quiz after submitting it by returning to the testing dashboard and selecting "Review Your Test."
The 2015 NCAA Softball Quiz #2 is posted under the testing tab. The quiz is OPTIONAL and does not count toward postseason eligibility. The quiz contains 10 questions. You will be able to review your quiz after submitting it by returning to the testing dashboard and selecting "Review Your Test."
The 2015 NCAA Softball Quiz #1 is posted under the testing tab. The quiz is OPTIONAL and does not count toward postseason eligibility. The quiz contains 10 questions. You will be able to review your quiz after submitting it by returning to the testing dashboard and selecting "Review Your Test."
Conference games have begun and now more than ever there needs to be a renewed focus on game management. Teams are working hard to qualify for postseason and every game is more important than the last one played.
Good game management and attention to detail is a way to prevent unexpected things from happening in the game. It is beyond the calling of outs and safes it is the manner in which you approach all of the other situations that may occur in a game. Umpires need to listen and address all game issues in a professional manner
Game administration: As a crew, you need to have a thorough pre-game. Review the pregame checklist within the CCA manual. It should guide your discussion.
Sportsmanship: It is an In Focus Topic this year. It is important that we have a clear understanding of good sportsmanship. If a coach or any game personnel exhibits poor sportsmanship it is your responsibility to address the issue. If the behavior warrants a warning then it is your responsibility to make sure the crew is aware that a warning had been issued and the reason for the warning. If there is an ejection, then follow the protocol in the manual. It clearly states each umpires responsibility.
On the field: Partner communication is extremely important. Umpire to umpire signals and verbal communication are two methods to convey information between umpires.
Line-up cards: Good line-up card management begins at the pre-game conference with the coaches, crew and should continue until the last out of the game. When a change occurs in the line-up inform each coach and confirm that they have the change. This will alleviate any possible line-up change protests. Take your time.
Before you accept any line-up card change(s) look to make sure that the pitcher has the ball in the pitcher’s circle and then call time to accept the change(s).
Preventable and common sense situations that arise in the game: When possible be proactive in preventing violations. If the coach is about to take their second charged defensive conference in an inning, make sure they know they already used one. This could prevent an administrative ejection.
Home run: New this year, rule 220.127.116.11 states that offensive team personnel shall congregate only in foul territory around home plate to congratulate the runner(s). If the on deck batter or bat girl moves into fair territory to move a bat during an out-of-the park home run this is not a team warning. She is preventing a possible injury and this does not warrant a team warning. The restriction is only in effect until the final runner touches home plate.
Finally, be alert and constantly vigilant to all of the actions on the field and within the dugout area. Work as a team. Communicate with each other. Know your responsibilities as well as your partners. Work together to conduct the game in accordance of the 2014-2015 NCAA Softball Rulebooks and 2014 CCA manual.
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 18.104.22.168 and the only approved alternate uniform parts are detailed in 22.214.171.124. 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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