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National Coordinator Notes
  • 9/4/2019

    Hello Umpires and Coordinators,

    Hope everybody had a great summer.  The fall season is getting started and the new rules are in effect.  Please work with the teams during the non-competitive season sharing new rule knowledge and our umpire mechanics as appropriate – we are transparent with our approach “to get the call right”.

    I have several announcements:

    1)  Registration in Arbiter for the 2020 season opens on December 2.

    2)  The in-person clinics are being held in Atlanta, GA January 4, San Jose, CA January 11 and Indianapolis, IN January 25, 2020.

    3)  Two regional advisor positions are open and applications are available until September 9. The postings are on the NCAA site at ncaamarket.ncaa.org.

    Have a great fall season.

    Craig

  • 3/14/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week six is in the books.  We are seeing many crews stepping up, becoming one team and working games flawlessly.  Ask yourself, what can I do today to help my crew be the best we can be? 

    This week, we ask you to review weeks 1 through 5 postings here on the Arbiter; review the Base Running Collisions rules under 12.13 on pages 119 – 120 and Base Running Interference rules under 12.17 on pages 123 - 129.  The videos this week will focus on several scenarios concerning these rules.

    Also, we will be posting four quizzes from now till the end of year (continued education).

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 3/14/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week five is in the books.  We are continuing non-conference play and there are conference series scheduled this weekend.  Now is a good time for a check-up – how is your game?  Timing? Distances? Angles? Set position? Wedge? Rule knowledge?  Crewmanship? Get the Call Right Procedures? Calling the defined strike zone accurately? Verbal communication? Presence? Pre-game and postgame discussions? And many more considerations. You should be continuously reviewing and studying the rule book, manual and game film when available.  We are all a member of the “umpire team” and we are here to win – pursuing perfection - becoming excellent.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    - Defensive coaches and equipment in live ball territory:   Politely ask them to stay in dead ball territory along with their equipment (address this all the time and every time).  Also, only two offensive coaches out of the dugout are allowed to be designated to the coaches’ boxes.

    - Hit by pitch when pitched ball is completely in the batter’s box: (1) batter does not move, (2) batter rolls to receive pitch into her body area to prevent injury (3) batter is loading, striding or preparing to hit pitch. If any one of these three scenarios occur, award base.  If the batter makes an intentional obvious move to get hit with the pitch, award a ball and keep her at bat.

    -  Two second pause by pitcher:  we are still seeing a lot of pitchers going to their hands significantly less than 2 seconds!  - we need to enforce this rule consistently (see last week’s post).

    - Obstruction: pregame this rule, including interpretations, shared thoughts and best practices – be prepared and pre-pitch this possible infraction during the game.

    - Bat checks: thoroughly reconcile game bats to approved list, brand and model.  If it is not on list, remove the bat (no exceptions) – complete this task.

    - Mechanics:  

    1. Verbalize, verbalize and then verbalize some more! – here are some examples: when plate is in the holding area between home and third, then he/she commits to third “I’ve got third!” or if plate “I’ve got plate!  B. Tag up responsibilities “I’ve got the tag at 3rd!” C.  Chase talk “Going” “We are in two”.

    2. Remember, umpires can work inside the diamond as well as outside based on the elements of the play.

    3. U1 counter rotated with a runner on second only can face the plate or face the midway point of the third base line.

    4. U3 with a runner on second only can face the plate or face the midway point of the first base line.

    5. When an umpire is in a set position and no play occurs, always reset your body by standing straight up (not keeping legs/feet in a wide stance position).

    6. Understand the DP/Flex substitution rules.  When the coaches inquire about any part of this rule, you must be able to communicate fluidly by explaining and applying the correct ruling.  Manage your scorecard with organization of all media format stats, warnings, timeouts, etc.

    Ask yourself, Is the crew better because you are part of the team?

    SUP Staff

  • 2/28/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week four is in the books.  Thank you for working hard to call an accurate strike zone.  We are witnessing a real focus to call strikes that are in the entire vertical zone and touching the plate horizontally.  Stay the course, be accurate, this focus results in fairness to the batters and the pitchers.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    - Pitch calling:   If you are not seeing the ball that is hitting the low end of the zone well, consider adjusting your head height a notch higher to see the bottom of the zone “plus”.  

    - Illegal Pitch mechanics:  call the illegal pitch immediately when it occurs (left arm extended at shoulder length with verbal “Illegal” at a volume that players/coaches within your vicinity only can hear).  If the pitcher stops or otherwise doesn’t release the pitch, we immediately call “dead ball” and issue a ball to the batter’s count.  If the pitch is released, we continue to umpire the play until completion. In considering completion of the play, the following scenarios apply:

    1.  No baserunners and the ball is not contacted – play ends when the pitch is completed.

    2.  Baserunners present, ball is not contacted - call the pitch a strike or a ball. The play concludes when pitcher has ball in the circle and all baserunners are on a base or have been called out.

    3.  Baserunners present or not, ball is contacted - play concludes when pitcher has ball in circle and batter runner and/or baserunners have concluded their base running responsibilities by attaining the plate/base or have been called out.

    - Absolute infractions:  Illegally batted balls, illegal pitches, leaving early - be 100 percent sure of these infractions before you make a call!

    -  Two second pause by pitcher:  the pitcher must pause for ‘at least two seconds’ to take or simulate taking a signal, hands must be separated and feet must be in contact with the pitcher’s plate.  Preventive umpiring may be appropriate for one pitch – then call the illegal pitch if it occurs again!   

    - Obstruction at a base:   if a throw takes defensive player “into” a position that blocks whole base/plate or base path and she is not in possession of the ball – this is obstruction (no contact or runner deviation is required.)  A fielder in the act of fielding a thrown ball is not protected from obstruction; however, if a throw takes defensive player momentarily “through” or “across” the base path and her new position does not have her blocking the whole base/plate or base path (as she is moving to field the throw), we would not have obstruction for blocking the whole base/plate or base path.  If she contacts the runner (who is running the bases properly) before catching the ball – this is obstruction.  If she catches and possesses the ball before contact – this is not obstruction.  This clarifies ‘through’ versus ‘into’ from previous instruction.

    We will continue to post videos for education purposes each week and now we will notify you as postings occur.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 2/21/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week three is in the books.  Study, reflect, postgame to improve game to game.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    - Timing:   develop consistent appropriate timing on ball/strike calls and outs/safes on the bases.  Overall, we have observed opportunities to slow down our timing on the plate and the bases.  

    - Verbal communication:  we are not where we want to be, take this up a notch.  Pregame and post-game this for appropriateness and clarity. In addition to chase talk, consider “I’ve got third”, “I have the tag up at second” etc.

    - Chases on outfield balls: remember to “stop and set” before the action of the catch or no catch.  Pre-pitch your chase area, check outfielders positioning and chase the balls that fall within our chase scenarios in your chase area –  then verbalize! 

    -  Rotations: We are missing rotations because umpires are not communicating with crewmates:  chase umpire must verbalize “going”, “gone” etc., plate umpire must verbalize “two-man”, “two person”, “we’re in two” when there is a chase, remaining umpire verbalize “we’re in two”.  With everyone communicating it will help the remaining base umpire to listen, visualize and react in getting to their next calling position.

    - “Get the Call Right” procedures:  please study, learn, and practice this document and guide – always pregame the possibilities, then execute if required.  You must be aware when you can come and share information, unsolicited, to the calling umpire.  As a calling umpire, you must realize if you were missing a piece of play based on player reactions and your positioning.  Make an attempt to keep coach off the field and bring crew together.  It is not good optics, if you have a long, spirited conversation with the coach and then you go for help.  If absolute, credible information is available from a crew mate and the call is overturned or confirmed – the calling umpire will explain why the call was changed or confirmed to the head coach of the team affected negatively or both head coaches if deemed appropriate – the crew will be aligned in a V formation behind the calling umpire and can adjust their positioning as the conversation and situation dictates.

    - Obstruction at a base:   this continues to garner attention as teams are adjusting defensive positioning based on the new rule.  Our responsibility is to know the rule inside and out and be prepared to visualize and umpire this play accurately. As this play begins and develops, choose the best angle and distance to see the defensive player’s position and the action of the play at the base.  Slowdown your call and consider all aspects of the play – then make your decision and signal/verbalize your call.

    In considering “Get the Call right” procedures for this play, this is not a call available for an umpire to come unsolicited to the calling umpire with information; however, if calling umpire had a poor angle or was blocked and was unsure of possible obstruction – the umpire may ask for additional information from the crew to “get the call right”.  Such meetings should be infrequent and not become a substitute for umpires seeking proper angles, exercising sound judgement, having the conviction to stay with a call that an umpire believes was properly made. Also, if you judged obstruction and called obstruction then you will have conviction to stay with the obstruction call.

    We will continue to post videos for education purposes each week (notices of postings do not occur) please check the video dropdown choice regularly.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 2/21/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    Week two is in the books, again umpiring was solid.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    - Strike Zone – continue accuracy focus, call the defined zone.

    - Verbal communication – good talk in most games – make this a focus.

    - Remember to verbalize “Ball” in your plate mechanics – review page 41 of manual.

    - Pitcher’s 2 second pause – inconsistent umpiring – pitcher cannot go to her hands after she positions herself on the pitcher’s plate until she pauses for 2 seconds – consider preventive umpiring once then call the infraction.

    - Remember on chases to “stop and set” before the action of the catch or no catch.  Our chase decisions were excellent – remember the hard-hit ball in your chase area – go!

    - Remember the “value of the point” – do not overuse this mechanic.

    - Batting gloves must be worn properly (flaps secured) or totally not visible on offense or defense – Handle this.

    We will be posting an obstruction interpretation document and videos later this week.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 2/6/2018

    Dear Umpires,

    We have one weekend under our belt.  We received feedback that umpiring was solid.  We need to continue to review our performance as we proceed throughout the year. We will offer feedback, adjustments and guidance as appropriate on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of each week reviewing the past week.

    Feedback – Adjustments – Guidance:

    Strike Zone – be accurate. The limits on the vertical zone are top of the ball at the bottom of the sternum and top of the ball at the top of the knees.  The bottom of the sternum is approximately two softballs above the beltline.

    Ball rotation –  In most facilities, we are not ready to move forward with our total ball rotation mechanic; and therefore, it has caused some confusion among players, coaches’ and umpires.  Please review the adjustments noted below:

    1.  Meaningless foul balls down the foul lines - allow the left and right fielders to retrieve these foul balls and return them to the pitcher.  If we have a damp or wet field, direct the balls to the dugout and put a dry ball in play (no change). 

    2.  Meaningless balls behind the catcher – plate umpire allows the catcher to retrieve and return to the pitcher (no change). A second option is the plate umpire can throw another ball to the pitcher and the catcher returns the retrieved ball to the plate umpire. If the plate umpire throws the ball to the pitcher, begin the initial 10 second count after the catcher returns the retrieved ball to the plate umpire (review rule 10.18 - Time Allowed Between Pitches).

    3.  Plate umpire must be able to read the facility; the circumstances and react accordingly on ball rotation for the pitcher (review rule 10.12 - Ball Rotation). If the pitcher has a preference to stay with a ball that remains in the facility, it is not a good practice to throw a different ball to the pitcher.

    Remember, the purpose of any ball rotation mechanic is the continuous pace of play.

    Three-umpire Mechanics - No Runners on, Hit to the infield. In our mechanic presentation at the clinics, we asked umpires as U3 to “come to a set position” when moving across the field of play and watch the action of the play happen at first base.  This was awkward for the umpires to “stop and start” in the middle of this rotation.  Therefore, we are reverting to what is noted and shown on pages 70 and 71 of the 2018 CCA Manual, with a focus on making sure that as U3 is moving towards second base, U3 is watching the play develop at first base in order to be prepared to help, if requested by the crew.

    Be a great crewmate!

    SUP Staff

  • 2/1/2018

    Games begin today, are you ready? – remember and focus on fundamentals, work the new mechanics, and be a great crewmate.  Call the defined strike zone in every pitch, in every game, in every location, in every division.  Pregame the “Get the Call Right” protocol and if one of the scenarios occurs, execute the steps appropriately.

    In the next few days we will be announcing the date for the online clinic for umpires who were unable to attend in person.  Reminder, postseason eligibility for DII and DIII require viewing the clinic on Arbiter.

    Reminder, if you have not completed your rules and mechanics test, the deadline is February 20 at 5:00 EST.

    Please note the following corrections to the 2018 CCA Manual:

    Page 121, under Plate umpire, fifth bullet, should read: If 'U1' is bracketing on the first base side, make the call on the catch/no catch if the play is facing you, the field or the dugout.  Otherwise 'U1' will make the call, if the play is facing them.

    Page 191, under U3, first bullet (Before the pitch), should read: Start in a set position, 'slightly angled towards the infield (opposite baseline between home and first base)’, completely in foul territory, close to the line, 10-12 feet beyond third base.

    Strike Zone!  Be accurate! Focus on calling the entire vertical and horizontal zone as depicted on page 11 in our 2018 Softball Umpire Manual and page 105 in the NCAA Softball 2018 and 2019 Rule Book.  ACCURACY!

    The SUP staff is excited to be a part of your team and we look forward to a great 2018 season!

    Craig Hyde
    NCAA National Coordinator for Softball Umpires  

  • 12/20/2017

    Hoping you have a great holiday season, relax, enjoy, and spend time with family and friends.

    Thank you for the welcome you have showed the SUP staff in 2017.  We look forward to being on your team as we serve the softball student athletes in the 2018 season.

    Hopefully, you have registered for a clinic in January, if not here is your reminder.  I encourage you to continue to prepare your minds and bodies through study and fitness training.

    I am looking forward to the 2018 season and seeing each of you.

    Craig Hyde
    NCAA National Coordinator for Softball Umpires  

  • 12/1/2017

    Registration for the 2018 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.  Registration fees are $140 for Division I and $120 for Divisions II and III. 

    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.

    The ArbiterMobile app is now available at no cost to NCAA registered officials. To download the app, please complete this season's officials' registration and then click here to read ArbiterMobile FAQs.

    The NCAA is continuing a basic level background check on all officials registered in NCAA softball.  You are authorizing a background check as part of this year’s officials’ registration process.  

    Registrants will receive a Welcome Packet that includes the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Softball Rules and Interpretations book and 2018 CCA Softball Umpires Manual. 

    The 2018 NCAA Softball Rules and Mechanics Test will be open on the TESTING Tab January 8 - February 20, 2018 (5 PM EST) with the test review available beginning on February 21, 2018.

    Also in January, look on the Central Hub for the locations and times of the 2018 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.

    Craig Hyde
    NCAA National Coordinator for Softball Umpires  

  • 7/16/2017

    Hello, everyone!

    Just a quick greeting and update:

    I am honored and ecstatic to have recently been named the NCAA National Coordinator for Softball Umpires. While I am sad that I will no longer be suiting up for any more NCAA softball games (one of the best feelings in the world!) I will be watching and working through each of you.

    I sincerely appreciate the hard work and dedication of the previous staffs:  Donna, Kathy, and Jeff, as well as the many regional advisors. Our umpire community has seen tremendous growth because of their tireless work and accomplishments.  Furthermore, I want to personally thank Sharon for believing in me and trusting me with this position.

    We are fortunate to officiate one of the top sports offered to student-athletes by the NCAA.  In its short existence, the popularity of college softball has exploded across the nation. The umpire community will keep pace with its continued growth. 

    My pledge to you is that every decision we make will be to further enhance the fairness and safety of our student-athletes' experience.

    We have a full agenda for this fall.  With much more to come, please stay tuned to Arbiter for ongoing announcements.  

    Here's to a great upcoming season!

    Respectfully yours,

    Craig Hyde
    National Coordinator of Softball Umpires

  • 7/16/2017

    Craig Hyde, who has 38 years of umpiring experience, has been named the NCAA’s national coordinator of softball umpires.

    “I am thrilled to be provided this opportunity,” Hyde said. “Softball umpiring is a passion of mine, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring my knowledge and experience to this position. NCAA softball has a number of amazing umpires, and I look forward to working with them to continue to make the sport the best it can be.”

    A softball umpire since 1979, Hyde has worked numerous conference championships, Division II regionals and national championships, as well as Division I regionals, super regionals and the Women’s College World Series.

    As the national coordinator, he will be in charge of communication among umpires, conference coordinators, coaches and the NCAA, and will help provide consistency in the interpretation of NCAA softball rules and umpiring mechanics. In addition, Hyde will work with the Divisions I, II and III Softball Committees in the identification, training, selection and evaluation of umpires for each championship.

    “Craig is an enthusiastic teacher/trainer, and I look forward to working with him to create a more consistent and inclusive softball umpire program,” said Sharon Cessna, NCAA managing director of championships and alliances.  “It is important that all the stakeholders, including coordinators, umpires, coaches and the rules committee, are moving in the same direction to create a valuable experience for the student-athletes.”

    An Alabama native, Hyde received his bachelor’s degree from Montevallo followed by a Master of Business Administration from Samford.

 
 
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