Starting next season, softball teams will be able to review video and access information entered into electronic equipment during competition.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the proposal from the NCAA Softball Rules Committee on Thursday. The new rule allows in-game use of video and statistical technology in the dugouts and other team areas as long as the equipment is not brought onto the playing field during an inning or used to review or challenge an umpire’s decision.
Additionally, tournament hosts will be allowed to film and stream all games within their tournament, not just those in which they are participants.
“The move to allow more freedom with the use of technology in the dugout is really consistent with the culture,” said Susan Cassidy-Lyke, chair of the Softball Rules Committee and athletics director and softball coach at Molloy College. “The sophistication of today’s technology and the expertise of the users simply make it a valuable strategic asset. Allowing access to the information will enhance the game while eliminating the burden of enforcement.”
The panel approved a proposal prohibiting players from wearing batting helmets that have highly reflective or mirror-like chrome finishes. The Softball Rules Committee believes these types of batting helmets are distracting to the defense because of the reflection of light.
Other softball rules proposals approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel include:
• A defensive player cannot block a base without having possession of the ball or being in the act of catching a thrown ball.
• Dugouts must have protective netting or fencing extending at least 6 feet from the floor; this rule will be a requirement in 2018.
• Foul poles should be a single color and extend at least 10 feet, but preferably 20 feet, from the ground. However, in 2018, foul poles on a team’s campus playing field will be required to extend at least 10 feet and be painted either white or optic orange.
• When teams are playing on a non-regulation field such as in a dome or multi-use facility due to weather constraints, the home run fence must be a minimum of 190 feet down the lines and 220 feet to center field with a 6-foot-high fence. The home run fence can also be 210 feet down the lines and 230 feet to center with a 4-foot-high fence. If the fences are shorter, a batter hitting a fair ball clearing the fence will be awarded only a ground-rule double.
• A runner’s lane will no longer be required to be painted on the field between home plate and first base.
• Players cannot use a bat with a barrel that is yellow or non-contrasting to the ball.
• A “no pitch” will be called if a batter is hit by a pitch while being out of the front of the batter’s box.
• If a pitch is intentionally thrown at an umpire, the pitcher, catcher and head coach of that team are immediately ejected. In addition, the coach will be suspended from the institution’s next two games.
• Base runners are prohibited from sliding out of the baseline directly into a fielder. In these instances, the base runner will be declared out.
• Coaches and players may not question the strike zone or any call based purely on the umpire’s judgment. Questioning will result in a warning, and any subsequent violations can result in ejection.
Additionally, one rule passed in 2011 will be a requirement in 2016: Backstops made of wood, cement or brick must be padded.