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Fast-Pitch Softbal Rules

While the rules for fast-pitch softball vary according to the age and ability level of the players, i.e. no stealing of bases at T-ball and lower "minor" leagues, no "infield fly" rule, no pitching at all in T-ball (the batter hits the ball off a tee), pitching machines or coaches pitching some or all of the game at the next age level, and eventually, players pitching the entire game, the basic rules are the same:
  • Each team has 9 players on the field at any one time.

  • Once a batting order is established, it must be followed for the duration of the game. If players are substituted, they will take the position in the batting order of the player that they replaced. In many leagues, every player bats, regardless of whether they are playing in the field at the time or not.

  • Each team continues to bat until three outs are recorded, at which time the team returns to the field. An out is recorded either by via a strike out (see below); a fly out, in which the batted ball is caught by an opponent before it touches the ground, whether in fair or foul territory; or by a ground out, in which the batted ball touches the ground before being caught, but is thrown to a base where an out is recorded either through a force play, or, if no force is in effect, by tagging the runner before he or she touches the base with his foot or hand.

  • Each batter gets to bat until she puts the ball in play, strikes out (3 strikes) or walks (is issued a "bases on balls"). A strike is a ball that is: "taken" (i.e. no swing) for a strike (i.e. a ball in the strike zone called a strike by the home plate umpire), swung on and missed; swung at and hit into foul territory and not caught before it touches the ground. A ball is called when the pitched ball is not thrown over the plate in the strike "zone" and the player does not swing. If a player receives 3 strikes, it will be recorded as an out. If a ball is hit into foul territory and caught, the batter is out. Once the batter has two strikes, any foul ball, including foul tip not caught by the catcher, does not count as the third strike. If a player receives four balls before she gets three strikes, he records a walk and becomes a base runner. Any players in a force position will move forward one base as well.

  • A run is scored when a player touches all four bases before the 3rd out is called. The team with the most runs at the completion of play wins the game.

There are several special rules and procedures for Little League softball that will vary slightly by association and league. Some of these variations are:
  • All players bat, or a pre-determined number, often more than 9.

  • All players take the field, or a pre-determined number, usually more than 9.

  • Runners play 'tight' bases, meaning they must remain on base until the ball is batted.

  • There is no stealing of bases.

  • There is no infield fly rule.

  • There are no strikes and balls. Generally a coach or umpire will assist after so a certain number of swings.

  • There is usually a time limit rather than an inning limit. A  softball game with 7 innings could take 3 to 5 hours!