Source: National Federation of State High Schools Associations

NFHS Web Page:

SP = slowpitch, FP = fastpitch

NFHS Softball ASA Rules Differences









Exposed lower-body undergarments must be either school colors or colors of black, white, or gray.


3-6B & C

If more than one player wears exposed undergarments (lower and upper body) they must be the same color and style.

A manufacturer’s logo shall not exceed 2-1/4 sq. inches.



No such rule.

The exterior warning label on batting helmets must be embossed.  A team warning is issued for failure to wear the required batting helmet.  Players who fail to wear proper helmet are ejected.



No warning label is required, but the NOCSAE seal of approval must be embossed on the helmet.

Players cannot remove helmets while ball is alive, meaning they must be worn until they reach the dugout.  Also included bat/ball shaggers while in playable territory.





Players can remove their helmet after touching home plate on the way to the dugout.  No requirements for bat or ball shaggers.  All J.O. batting helmets must be equipped with chin straps beginning in 2003.

The 12” ball will be used in both fast and slow pitch competition.  State Association can adopt the 11” ball if they also move the bases to 65 feet.  The NHSF authenticating mark shall be on each ball.


3-3J & K

Co-Ed men will hit a 12” and women an 11” softball.  Women’s slow pitch and all girls slow pitch will use the 11” ball.  Men and boys fast pitch, 14-16-18 under slow pitch, and women’s fast pitch and G12-14-16-18UFP will use the 12” ball.  Boys and girls 10-under fast pitch and boys 10-12 under slow pitch will use the 11” ball.

Bats must meet ASA performance standards, and bats shall be labeled with the permanent/embossed ASA certification mark.



Bats must have ASA approved seal showing 2000, or be listed on the ASA website (by manufacturer) as approved (  PRE-1995 bats can be approved by the umpire at the game.

A ball rotation system is mandatory.


No ref.

Optional.  Mandatory in championship play POE #2.





No such rule.



The softball shall be a regular smooth-seamed, flat surface, pebble or dimple textured ball with concealed stitches. (SP only)

Players in the game are prohibited from wearing jewelry such as rings, watches, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, (including cloth or string types) or other cosmetic or decorative items that are hard.



Exposed jewelry, which is judged by the umpire to be dangerous, must be removed and may not be worn during the game.  If they refuse, they cannot play.

Metal cleats are prohibited.  Metal toe plates are prohibited.



Metal and polyurethane cleats are prohibited in youth.  Metal toe plates are legal.

The commercially manufactured catcher’s head, face, and throat protector may be a one-piece design or a multi-piece design.

1-1-7 NOTE

3-5C Note

Hockey style one-piece design catcher’s helmet/mask is legal.  The slow pitch catcher, as well as all FP or SP players, (except FP catcher), can wear a clear plastic face mask.  If the hockey style mask does not have built in throat protector, one must be added.

Uniforms of all team members should be of the same color and style.



Player’s pants may be mixed (long and short) as long as they are alike in color.





Prior to start of game, both head coaches must verify to umpire-in-chief that all players are properly equipped.



No requirement.

Bases are 60 feet apart (Fast and Slow Pitch).  Slow pitch must use 65 foot bases if State Association adopts 11” ball.



Exception: Bases are 65 feet apart for boys and girls 14-16-18-under slow pitch.




6” Arabic numbers between 0-99 must be worn on the back of the jersey.  No player may wear three digit numbers or fractions less than 1.  The numbers must be visible.

Players should wear uniforms properly and as designed.  Does not address tie-ups.



Sleeves or straps of the uniform tops may be adjusted, with or without tie-ups, to comfort the player.  If the uniform is tied up, the numbers must be visible, otherwise the ties must be removed.

The home coach shall decide whether the grounds or other conditions are suitable for starting a game.



The home plate umpire shall decide whether the grounds or other conditions are suitable for starting a game.

(SP) pitching distance with 12” ball is 46’.

(SP) pitching distance with 11” ball is 50’ (by state adoption).



(SP) pitching distance for girls 16-under and 18-under is 50’ (11” ball only).





Batter is called out for intentionally hitting the ball in foul territory, if the ball has a chance to become fair in the umpires judgment.

7-4-1g Note


No reference to foul territory.  Fair territory only.

A bat hitting a fair ball will not rule the batter out, unless the act is determined to be intentional.

7-4 K

7-6 I

Any time the bat hits the ball over fair territory, it is considered intent and the batter is ruled out.  If the ball hits the bat, it is ruled fair or foul depending where they hit each other.

When a player delays a game by not promptly taking her position in the batter’s box, the umpire will wait 20 seconds and then call a strike.  A pitch does not have to be thrown.



Batter must take his/her position in the box within 10 seconds after being directed to by the umpire.  If she does not enter in 10 seconds, the umpire will call a strike.  No pitch has to be thrown.  The ball remains dead.  (JO only) Between pitches, one foot must remain in the box while taking signals or taking practice swings.

(SP) The strike zone is that space over any part of home plate which is between the batter’s HIGHEST shoulder and the knees when the batter assumes the natural batting stance.




(SP) The strike zone is that space over any part of home plate which is between the batter’s BACK shoulder and her front knee when she assumes the natural batting stance.

No such ruling.



The batter cannot step back out of batter’s box and run back into box to hit the pitch.  If contact is made the batter is out.  If no contact, a strike is ruled.

No such ruling.




If the catcher accidentally hits the batter on a return throw to the pitcher, and this allows runners to advance safely, where they wouldn’t have advanced, time should be called and return the runners to the base they started from.





When spectator interference occurs, the ball becomes dead at the moment of interference and the umpire imposes such penalties and/or make any awards as in the umpires judgment will nullify the act of interference.



If a spectator reaches into the field of play and interferes with a fielder’s opportunity to catch a fly ball, the batter is out, runners return.  On fair batted balls or overthrown balls and spectator interference occurs, the ruling remains the same.

When sliding, the runner must be within reach of the base with either a hand or a foot when the slide is completed.



No such ruling, yet guidelines have been similar when considering an interference call.

Double Base: Batter-runner should use the colored base on initial play at first base, unless the fielder is drawn to the side of the colored base, in which case the runner would go to the white base and the fielder to the colored.  Runner is never out for touching white base rather than colored base.

Page 82


Double Base: If a play is made on the batter-runner and the runner touches only the white portion, the defense can appeal the runner until she returns and the runner will be ruled out.

Double Base: Used by state adoption only.

1-3-1 NOTE 2


Double Base: Required for JO Girls (2002).

A runner may not return to touch a missed base or one left too soon on a caught fly ball if the player has reached a base beyond the base missed or one left too soon and the ball becomes dead.

Appeal Procedures

Page 80


When the ball becomes dead, runners may return to touch a missed base or the base left too soon even if they have advanced, touched , and are a base beyond the missed base or the base left too soon.

If interference occurs by a runner on a foul fly ball, the runner is out, the ball is dead, a strike is called, and the batter remains at bat (SP only).  If this is the third strike, the batter is also out.

8-6-13 Exception

8-8 NOTE Sec. J-L


If interference occurs by a runner on a fair or foul fly ball, the runner and batter are out.





For removing a helmet intentionally while running the bases, a team warning is issued for the first occurrence, and the player is restricted to the dugout on the second team occurrence.





For intentionally removing a helmet while running the bases, the runner is called out.  If not seen by the umpire, there is no call.

The runner is out when a fair batted ball contacts her before it touches an infielder, or after it passes any infielder, excluding the pitcher, and in the umpire’s judgment no other infielder can make a play




Only that runner hit with a fair batted ball while standing in foul territory will be protected if an infielder had an opportunity to make an out.

When a runner intentionally interferes with any defensive player having an opportunity to make an out on a deflected ball, the runner is out.

Look Back Rule: The ball must be in the pitcher’s possession for the “Look-Back Rule” to be in effect.  It is possible for the ball to be in her possession, but not in either hand.

Page 85 POE 8-74


Look-Back Rule: The pitcher must have possession and control of the ball within the pitcher’s circle.  Control means the ball has to be in one or both hands.  It cannot be between her legs, under one arm, etc.

No such rule.


1 – Dead Ball

A ball lodged in offensive players clothing is a dead ball.

No such rule.



A ball lodged in defensive players clothing is a live ball.





A designated hitter (DH) may assume a defensive position but must remain in her same batting spot.  If she assumes a defensive position, DH role is terminated.  If the defensive player bats for the DH, the DH role is terminated.



A designated player (DP) may play defense for any player including the player listed as defensive player only.  The role of DP is not terminated in this case.  The “DP” is terminated only when the defensive player moves to bat for the “DP”.





An illegal player is ejected if discovered by the umpire or by either team after the ball has become alive.




The illegal player must be protested by the offended team, to the umpire before she is disqualified.

If a runner is injured and is safely on base, the most recent batter not on base is allowed to run for the injured player, until that player is put out, scores, or the half inning ends.



If a runner is on base safely and cannot continue, an out is recorded, if no legal substitute is available.

No such ruling.



(SP) Players determined to be physically challenged as established by American Disabilities Act (1990) will be allowed to play.

Once a team has gone shorthanded and another eligible player is available, that eligible player may be inserted into the vacated spot.



If a substitute arrives, he must be inserted immediately into the vacant spot.

A player who has been rendered unconscious during a game shall not be permitted to resume participation that day without written authorization from a physician.



No rules coverage.

Any player, coach, substitute, attendant or bench personnel who charges an umpire shall be ejected.



No penalty for charging an umpire.  The act must be unsportsmanlike after reaching the umpire for a player or coach to be ejected.





Team personnel who leave their positions or bench area when a fight has broken out shall be ejected from the game.



No such ruling.

A team must have ten players (SP) or nine players (FP) to start or the game is forfeited.



A team can start with one less player.  If another player arrives after the game begins, he/she is placed in the vacant spot in batting order.  If a player does not arrive, an out is taken each time the vacant spot comes to bat.





(SP) Five pitches are allowed between innings when warming up.



(SP) Only three pitches are allowed between innings when warming up.

(SP) The pitcher has 20 seconds to release the next pitch after receiving ball from catcher.



(SP) The pitcher has 10 seconds to release the next pitch after receiving the ball, or after the umpire indicates “play ball.”

(SP) The pitcher must come to a full and complete stop facing the batter with the shoulders in line with first and third bases and hold this position for at least one and not more than 10 seconds.  If a step is taken, it must be forward.

6-4-1 and 2



(SP) The pitcher must stop with the ball in front of the body.  The step can be forward, backward, or to the side outside the width of the pitcher’s plate as long as the pivot foot is in contact with the pitcher’s plate until the ball is released.

A pitcher removed from the pitching position (but staying in the game) can return to the pitching position only once per inning.





Pitchers can return to pitching position any number of times (as long as they were not removed due to a rule violation), but if they return in the same inning, no warm-up pitches are allowed.





The pitch starts when one hand has been taken off the ball or the pitcher makes any motion that is part of the windup after hands are brought together.



The pitch starts when one hand is taken off the ball  after the hands have been placed together.  Any movement of hands/arms prior to the hands separating does not start the pitch.

Prior to starting the delivery (pitch), the pitcher shall take a position with the non-pivot foot in contact with or behind the pitcher’s plate.




(FP) For women and JO girls, pitcher shall take a position with both feet in contact with the pitcher’s plate.  For men and JO boys, the pivot foot must be in contact, but the non-pivot foot can be to the rear of the plate, but within the 24” width of the plate.

No ruling on contacting a pitched ball with detached equipment.



(FP) Contacting a pitched ball with detached equipment on a batter’s third strike would entitle the batter and all runners one base.  On other pitches, there is no penalty if runners are not advancing, no apparent play is possible, or no advantage is gained.

No such ruling.



(FP) The pitcher shall take the signal from the catcher  (or the dugout) with the hands separated while in contact with the pitching plate.  The ball must remain in either the glove or pitching hand.

(FP) The step backward, with the non-pivot foot, must start before the hands come together.



(Women & Girls FP) Both feet must be in contact with the pitching plate while taking the signal and during delivery.  A step must be taken and it can only be forward.

Men and JO Boys can step back with non-pivot foot before or after hands are brought together.





(SP) The catcher must be in and remain within the boundaries of the catcher’s box until each pitch reaches home plate or is batted.




Same as National Federation but also includes until ball touches the ground or home plate.

(FP) If a pitcher delivers an illegal pitch and the batter hits the ball (fair or foul), or becomes a base runner, the coach of the team at bat shall have the option of the result of the play or the penalty for the illegal pitch.



6-(1-8) FP

6-(1-7) SP

In (FP) if all runners and the batter advance one base the illegal pitch is ignored.  In (FP) if the runners and batter do not make at least one base, the manager has the option to take the result of play or the illegal pitch enforcement.





If an error cannot be charged to a fielder, assess it to the team.



No reference to “team” error.

No such ruling.




A sacrifice “slap hit” will not be charged as a time at bat.

A base hit is credited to a batter because a runner is declared out for being hit by the batted ball.



8-8 NOTE

Sec. J-L

A fielder’s choice is credited to a batter when a runner has been called out for interference on the batted ball.





Umpire-In-Chief required to record team warning.



No such requirement.

Scorekeeping errors must be brought to the umpires attention before umpires leave the field.



No such requirement.





A coach who is ejected shall leave the vicinity of the playing area immediately and is prohibited from any further contact, direct or indirect, with team during the remainder of the game.



Coaches or players ejected can remain on bench.  If the act is flagrant, he must leave the ball park.

Coaches shall be attired in school uniforms or jersey/coaching shorts, slacks, or warm-up suits (including fleece warm-ups) in school colors or black/white, gray, or khaki.



Coaches should dress in similar colors as team uniform.  If a coach wears headwear, it must be approved.

Coaches can not use any type of communication equipment; television monitoring or replay equipment; or use amplifiers or bullhorns for coaching purposes.

3-3-1 g and m

4-8-C(1 & 5)

No communication equipment is allowed between the coach, the dugout, the coach in the other coaches’ box, or the spectator areas.

Coaches, players and bench personnel are prohibited from using tobacco products (including smokeless).  The umpire shall issue a team warning to the coach.  Had a team warning already been issued for the same infraction, offender will be ejected.



No ruling.





No such ruling.


1 – Dead Ball

A ball lodged in umpires clothing or equipment shall be ruled dead.

Use of video by umpires for purpose of making calls or rendering decisions is prohibited.



No such rule.





Games can be shortened by agreement of the opposing coaches for run rule, time limit or one team leading by substantial margin, if state association does not have a ruling.



Games can be called after five innings if a run ahead rule is used (FP-8) (SP-12).

Media shall be prohibited from being in the live ball area.



No such rule.  Media allowed in live ball area as long as they control their equipment.  POE # 22.

The tie-breaker procedure can be used if adopted by state association.



A tie breaker is used in girls’ and women’s fast pitch.  Beginning in the 8th inning, and each half inning thereafter, the offensive team shall begin its turn at bat with the player scheduled to bat ninth, placed on second base.





Protests are optional depending on state association.



Protested games can be made on misinterpretation of playing rule, use of illegal substitute, or use of illegal player.

A ball passing through the designated media area in flight remains alive.  The ball becomes dead if it touches inside the designed media, but does not, if the media area is unoccupied.



No rule POE # 22.