SEPTEMBER 4, 2018
Enjoy this video.....
It was a beautiful Saturday evening when the following play happened. Nobody on base and the batter tries to lay down a bunt and it went straight down, bounced up, and then contact was made with the bat and the ball laying on the ground.
When it happened, I correctly moved to see if any contact was made with the ball and the batter as she left the box. Then I saw the bat/ball contact and the ball stayed moving in fair territory.
I must admit that my initial instincts were to call the ball dead, and I can see my arms start to raise upwards. They never did make it upwards to draw real attention, but for some reason these plays cause me to want to scream dead ball. I am glad that I did not do that this time around. I watched the ball hit the bat that was stationary on the ground and I immediately made the judgment between the ball hitting the bat and the bat hitting the ball.
I was really thankful for all the time I have previously spent reading and understanding the strange plays that can happen around home plate.
The 2018 USA Softball Rule Book Rules Supplement #24 is most helpful...
When considering the act of a batter hitting the pitched ball a second time, umpires should place the act in one of three categories.
A. If the bat is in the hands of the batter when the ball comes in contact with the bat, and the batter is in the batter's box, it is a foul ball. If, when the bat contacts the ball batter's entire foot is completely outside the batter's box, the batter is out. When in doubt, don't guess the batter out, call a foul ball.
B. If the bat is out of the batter's hands, dropped or thrown, and it hits the ball a second time in fair territory, the ball is dead and the batter-runner is out. However, if the BALL hits the bat on the ground, the batter is not out and the umpire must then determine whether the ball is fair or foul base on the fair/foul rule. If the ball rolls against the bat in fair territory, the ball remains live. If the ball stops or is touched in fair territory, it is a fair ball. If the ball touches the bat in fair territory and then rolls to foul ground and stops, it is a foul ball. If the ball rolls against the bat in foul territory, it is a foul ball.
C. If the batter swings at and misses the pitched ball but:
- 1) Accidentally hits it on the follow-through, or
- 2) Intentionally hits it on the second swing, or
- 3) Hits the ball after it bounces off the catcher or mitt/glove.
The ball is dead and all runners must return to the base they occupied prior to the pitch (FP, SP, with Stealing and 16" SP) in (2) and (3), if the act is intentional with runners on base, the batter is called out for interference.
If this occurs on strike three in fast pitch, Rule 8, Section 2F has precedence.
In this case, the bat is out of the batter's hands, laying on the ground, and the ball hit the bat.... Play on.
The ball stayed fair after hitting the bat the second time... Play on.
Now don't forget to watch the runner and the running lane on the ensuing play... I did not do this. This is the responsibility of the plate umpire.
Chapter 4 - Plate mechanics
C. Difficult Situations
f. Three-Foot Running Lane: A three foot running lane violation is an example of an interference call. The plate umpire should:
- 1.Give the dead ball signal while giving a strong verbal “dead ball” call .
- 2.Point in the direction of where the interference occurred.
- 3.Take charge and sell the call.
Watch the video again and watch the movement of both third base umpire Duffy Latham and first base umpire Curtis Call. Both were immediate on their movements and impressive. It was a pleasure working with these experienced men. They obviously pre-pitch planned with each pitch because they were both spot on in their mechanics with each play. Their movements and communications made for credible calls throughout the game.
As umpires, we must know the rules, know how to apply them, and stay attentive for multiple difficult situations within the same play. I nailed the ball hitting the bat call, but failed to continue with my responsibilities as the runner ran to first base. She was ruled safe at first by the base umpire after the ball deflected off her left arm, having run the entire running lane with at least a foot in fair territory. As the plate umpire, I should have watched the running lane, seen the violation, made the dead ball signal while giving a strong verbal “dead ball” call, pointed in the direction of where the interference occurred, taken charge and sold the call. If I had, then I really would have been on top of my game.
Make it a great day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
JAY SULLIVAN RESPONDED VIA FACEBOOK
Jay Sullivan - Good call, but how did you see the ball hit the bat on the bounced ball?. It is clear on the video, but you were almost blocked from the scene?
Michael Leavitt - Agreed, Jay. During the play, this was my top priority. I was able to see it, even though the catcher and batter-runner almost obstructed my view. I first had this situation 5 years earlier while working with Dennis Lizza at the Heatstroker Tournament in Kaysville, Utah. It was then that I went home and studied up further on this play. 5 years ago I was book-studied prior to it happening. This time around, I knew exactly how to rule and immediately went to the offended coach and stated simply, "Coach, the ball hit the bat and not the bat hitting the ball, so play on." He went back to his dugout and to his fans repeating, "Blue said the ball hit the bat and not the bat hitting the ball." I know he went home that night looking up those words in our rule book. I wish the field umps could be of more help, but they are a long ways away. This means that the plate umpire has got to do everything he can to see that ball all the way through the bunting process.... And the older and bigger the catchers, the harder it is to follow the ball.