Diamond League Rules

Updated Friday March 9, 2018 by Kris Marceca.

AGSA Diamond League Rules

1. GOVERNING BODY FOR AGSA FASTPITCH SOFTBALL
AGSA play is governed by the rules set forth by the Amateur Softball Association of America or “USA Softball” (ASA Rules) with the following modifications.

2. AGSA LEAGUE COMMISSIONER AUTHORITY
The AGSA Diamond League Commissioner (Commissioner) shall have final authority over all interpretations, questions, and disputes regarding these rules.

3. RULES SUMMARY FOR UMPIRES

The following list summarizes the AGSA Diamond League Rules most likely to be discussed in pre-game conferences among umpires and head coaches. In cases of conflicts between this summary and the rules themselves, the rules govern.

  1. No new innings after 80 minutes
  2. Maximum of 5 runs per team in any inning
  3. Pitching distance is 40 feet (spring season)
  4. “Infield-fly” and “dropped-third-strike” rules apply
  5. Courtesy runners permitted for pitchers and catchers with 2 outs
  6. 2 warnings per pitcher for illegal pitches before penalties
  7. Stud earrings permitted; chinstraps optional; fielder facemasks encouraged

4. GAME SCHEDULING

The Commissioner shall have final authority over the scheduling and rescheduling of all games. The game schedule posted by the Commissioner or the Assistant Commissioner on the AGSA website shall be the official schedule. The home team shall be listed second for all games.

 

5. STANDINGS AND PLAYOFFS

  1. During the spring season, the teams’ final regular-season standings shall determine their seeding for any post-season playoffs, the format of which shall be determined by the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall determine the final regular-season standings by ranking teams according to their winning percentages (wins divided by games played). Only games played against other AGSA Diamond League teams shall count for purposes of determining winning percentages. Ties shall count as losses for purposes of determining winning percentages.

 

  1. At the end of the regular season, if two teams have the same winning percentages, then the Commissioner shall rank those teams by their head-to-head winning percentages. If two teams have the same winning percentages and the same head-to-head winning percentages, or if three or more teams have the same winning percentages, then the Commissioner shall rank those teams by their winning percentages in games that they played as the visiting team. If two or more teams have the same winning percentages, the same head-to-head winning percentages (if applicable), and the same winning percentages in games played as the visiting team, then the Commissioner shall schedule one or more additional games among those teams in order to break the tie. The Commissioner shall not rank teams by runs scored, runs allowed, or run differential.

6. EQUIPMENT AND JEWELRY

The following rules concerning equipment and jewelry apply to all games and practices.

  1. The umpire may inspect any team or player equipment before or during a game and may prohibit the use of any illegal equipment. Game balls shall be 12-inch, .375 compression-tested yellow softballs. Bats and warm-up weights shall be USSSA- or ASA-certified.

 

  1. Players may wear stud earrings. Umpires may prohibit all other types of earrings and jewelry that they deem to be dangerous. Metal cleats are prohibited.

 

  1. On offense, all players shall wear a NOCSAE-approved batting helmet, with facemask and dual ear flaps, at all times when on the field. Chinstraps are optional.

 

  1. On defense, all catchers shall wear a chest protector, shin guards, catcher’s helmet, and catcher’s facemask with either an integrated or separate (“swinging”) throat protector. Pitchers and other fielders are encouraged, but not required, to wear fielding facemasks.

7. PRE- AND POST-GAME RESPONSIBILITIES
The home team shall use the 3rd base dugout for all games except those at Greenbrier #1, where the home team shall use the 1st base dugout. The home team shall line the field before the game, but the visiting team shall assist if requested. The home team shall provide the game balls. Both teams shall clean their dugouts and perform any necessary field maintenance after the game. The winning team shall report the final score of the game to the Commissioner, or enter it on the AGSA website or app, within 24 hours after the game ends.

 

8. NUMBER OF PLAYERS
For all official games, a team must have a minimum of 6 players to begin or continue playing. A maximum of 10 players may play defense in the field for a team at a given time. A team may use a maximum of 4 outfielders and a maximum of 6 infielders (including the pitcher and catcher) in the field at a given time. Until the pitcher releases the ball on a pitch, outfielders must remain on the grass and infielders must remain on the dirt.

9. GAME START
Games shall begin immediately at the designated start time. However, at the request of either team’s head coach, the umpire shall delay the start of a game for up to 15 minutes to await the arrival of additional players to satisfy the minimum-player requirement. Minutes used in this grace period shall count against the time allotted for the game.

10. FORFEITS
A team shall forfeit if it lacks the minimum number of 6 players in the game at any time after the start of a game. The official final score of a forfeited game shall be 7-0 in favor of the non-forfeiting team. A game forfeited by both teams is void and shall not count for purposes of regular-season standings or playoff-game results. In the event of a forfeited game, the head coaches may agree to play an unofficial game with the players present. Results of unofficial games shall not count for purposes of regular-season standings or playoff-game results.

11. RUN LIMIT
A team may score no more than 5 runs per inning. A half inning ends following the conclusion of the play during which the 5th run was scored, regardless of the number of outs. This rule applies to all innings, including the last inning of the game.

12. GAME LENGTH – REGULAR SEASON
A regular-season game shall end with an official final score after 7 innings of play (or 6 1⁄2 innings if the home team is ahead). Ties are allowed. However, the following exceptions apply.

  1. No new innings shall begin after 80 minutes of play. The teams shall complete the last inning begun before 80 minutes of play, and the game shall end with an official final score at the end of that inning. However, the last inning begun before 80 minutes of play shall immediately be deemed complete, and the game shall end immediately with an official final score, if (i) the home team is ahead at the end of the top half of that inning, (ii) the home team takes the lead in the bottom half of that inning, or (iii) either team is winning by more than 5 runs at the 80-minute mark.

 

  1. If the umpire ends a game due to inclement weather or poor field conditions, then the score at that time shall be an official final score, but only if 3 innings have been completed (or 2 1⁄2 innings if the home team is ahead). Otherwise, the terminated game is void and shall not count for purposes of regular-season standings.

 

  1. A game shall end immediately with an official final score if, at any time, the head coach of the team with the lower score requests that the game end.

13. GAME LENGTH – PLAYOFFS

A post-season playoff game is also governed by Rule 12, except that if the game ends in a tie, then the umpire may allow one or more extra innings of play. Any extra innings shall be played using the ASA tiebreaker procedure (that is, at the start of each half inning, the player who made the last out for the team at bat shall be placed as a runner on 2nd base). If the score remains tied after all extra innings permitted by the umpire, then the game is void and shall be rescheduled by the Commissioner.

14. SUSPENSION OR TERMINATION OF PLAY
After a game has begun, the umpire shall decide whether and for how long to suspend play, or whether to end a game entirely, due to inclement weather or poor field conditions.

15. BATTING ORDER
Batters shall bat in a continuous (“snake”) batting order. All present and uninjured players must bat regardless of whether they are playing defense in the field in a given inning. Players arriving after the start of the game shall be inserted at the end of the batting order.

16. DEFENSIVE SUBSTITUTIONS AND COACHING

When the ball is dead or between innings, a head coach may substitute players between defensive positions or between the bench and a defensive position, except as limited by Rule 18(d). When the ball is live, coaches for the team playing defense must remain in the dugout unless they are requesting a timeout. Those coaches may stand in the dugout doorway, but they may not stand outside of the dugout fence.

17. INJURED PLAYERS

A player who sustains an injury during a game may leave the game to recuperate and later return to the game in the same batting position. Missing an at-bat due to injury does not result in an out. However, if an injured player leaving a game causes a team to lack the minimum number of 6 players, then that team forfeits the game. If a fielder is injured and leaves the game, then the head coach may substitute any other player on that team for the injured fielder. If a runner is injured and leaves the game, or if a batter is injured by being hit by a pitch and leaves the game, then the head coach must substitute the uninjured player who made the last out on that team for the injured runner or batter.

18. PITCHING

 

  1. During games, all pitches shall be thrown by players, not coaches.

 

  1. During the spring season, all players shall pitch from a distance of 40 feet from home plate in all games. If a pitching plate is not available at that distance, a chalk or dirt line may be used. During the fall season, the Commissioner may set different pitching distances (40 or 43 feet) for teams in different age groups.

 

  1. During the spring season, a player may pitch in an unlimited number of innings in each game.  During the fall season, the Commissioner may set inning limits for pitchers.

 

  1. In a given inning, a player may cease being the pitcher (by substitution or by leaving the game) and then resume being the pitcher in that same inning only once.

 

  1. Legal pitching delivery is governed by the ASA Rules. Common mistakes resulting in an illegal pitch include: not starting the delivery with both feet in contact with the pitcher’s plate; not starting the delivery with hands apart; stepping backwards off the pitcher’s plate during delivery; not bringing the hands together once, and only once, prior to releasing the ball; and stopping or reversing forward motion after separating the hands.

 

  1. The umpire shall give each pitcher 2 warnings before penalizing that pitcher for an illegal pitch. Warnings may be given during or between innings. After the 2nd warning, the umpire shall impose the penalty prescribed by the ASA Rules when that pitcher throws an illegal pitch.

19. BUNTING
Bunting is allowed and is governed by the ASA Rules. When there are 2 strikes on the batter, any attempted bunt that results in a foul ball is an out.

20. SLIDING
Sliding into bases, including home plate, is allowed and is governed by the ASA Rules.

21. STEALING
Stealing bases, including home plate, is allowed and is governed by the ASA Rules. If the pitcher has possession of the ball inside of the pitching circle and a runner is stopped at a base, then the runner may not leave that base until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand on the next pitch.

22. LOOK-BACK RULE
The “look-back” rule is in effect as under the ASA Rules. When the pitcher has possession of a live ball inside of the pitching circle after the batter has touched 1st base or been called out, then all runners in motion may continue without stopping, or may stop once between bases but then must immediately attempt to advance to the next base or return to the last base touched. If a runner instead stands motionless between bases, or stops a second time between bases, or stops at a base and then leaves that base, then the runner is out. (The name for this rule is a misnomer – the pitcher need not look at a runner for the runner to be called out.) However, if the pitcher leaves the pitching circle, drops the ball, fakes a throw, or throws the ball, then all runners may advance at their own risk.

23. DROPPED-THIRD-STRIKE RULE

The “dropped-third-strike” rule is in effect as under the ASA Rules. A pitch that bounces off the ground before being caught by the catcher is considered “dropped” or “not caught.”

24. INFIELD-FLY RULE

The “infield-fly” rule is in effect as under the ASA Rules.

25. COURTESY RUNNERS
When a team on offense has 2 outs, its head coach may insert a courtesy runner for a runner who will play at the pitcher or catcher position at the beginning of the following half inning. Courtesy runners may be used for both the pitcher and the catcher in the same half inning. From among a team’s uninjured players who have not already served as courtesy runners in that inning, the courtesy runner must be the player who made the last out for that team.

26. INTERFERENCE AND OBSTRUCTION
The ASA Rules govern interference by batters and runners and obstruction by fielders. Common mistakes resulting in offensive interference include: a batter making no effort to leave the area when a runner is stealing home plate; a runner moving more than 3 feet outside of the base path to avoid a tag; and a runner making contact with an infielder who is fielding a batted ball. Common mistakes resulting in defensive obstruction include: a catcher making contact with the batter’s bat during a swing; an infielder blocking a runner from reaching a base while waiting for a throw to be made; and an infielder blocking a runner’s base path when not possessing the ball, fielding a batted ball, or catching a thrown ball.

Updated – March 7, 2018

 

Diamond Rules Spring 2018 Final.docx