Editor's Note: In the spirit of the upcoming softball season, we reached out to Jordan Brown, in hopes that he can freshen up our knowledge of the spring sport. See what Brown has to say below, in this week's special column called "Behind The Mask."
Softball is just like baseball except the ball is bigger and they throw underhand. Wrong! Here is what makes softball special!
* Slap Hitting/ Bunting - As long as one little part of the foot is touching any part of the batters box, it is legal. This includes touching any part of the white line of the batter's box. Common misconception is that "she is out of the box." Please quit arguing that call because "no she is not."
The Rules Interpreter for the Mid-Ohio Valley Softball Officials calls a girl out at first.
* Crow Hop/Leap - Pitching is hard, and if a pitcher is throwing strikes and the flow of the game is not being bothered, minor lifting of the foot or losing contact with the pitcher's plate shall not result in an illegal pitch. Big holes in the front of the pitcher's plate also make calling illegal pitches very difficult. Players do not want illegal pitches called and neither does anyone else because the game would last hours.
* DP/Flex takes the place of the old fashioned DH (designated hitter). Please don't try to understand how this works - cactusumpires.com have a great presentation explaining it, and I still think you are better off just assuming that it is being dealt with correctly.
* Leaving early -Ball must be released by the pitcher before the base runner is allowed to run. Yes, most umpires will only call this if the advantage is so significant that she was actually 2-3 steps off the bag. No matter what happens, if it is called, the runner is out.
* Look back rule - Ball in the circle- go immediately to a base or you are out. It ended the cat and mouse and it forced the players to make a decision immediately. The umpire will yell dead ball and call the runner out immediately, leaving everyone confused.
I hope you can come out to a game this year to support your local high schools and colleges!
Jordan Brown, NCAA/ NFHS/ USA Softball Umpire, Mid-Ohio Valley Rules Interpreter