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USSSA Fastpitch Guidelines

The league's foundation will reside in USSSA Official Fastpitch Playing Rules and By-Laws.  For reference, they can be found here.

Small modifications will be made, and outlined below to support various age groups, and the spirit of Recreational Softball.  We will identify those modifications specifically - below.  

Please note: the league has a history of varying modifications.  We have tried to identify those that needed to be discussed - however, we might have missed a few.  We will add those, as needed to reinforce a consistent set of guidelines for each league.

Inning and Games

Cub League

  • 5 coach pitch, and then tee (if needed)
  • 2nd coach behind the plate is fine
  • Game is 3 innings of play
  • Each lineup will bat, each inning

Bear League

  • 3 innings 'assisted' pitching & 2 innings kid pitch
  • Assisted pitching could be: Coach, Machine, or Variation.
  • Game is 5 innings of play
  • If you reach 90 minutes and have not finished 5 innings, you can finish the inning you are in
  • No new inning to be played after that
  • 8 batters, 4 runs or 3 outs

Golden Bear League

  • 5 innings of kid pitch
  • Game is 5 innings of play
  • If you reach 90 minutes and have not finished 5 innings, you can finish the inning you are in
  • No new inning to be played after that
  • 8 batters, 4 runs or 3 outs

Note: Previously Golden Bear teams played out that last inning (irrespective of 8, 4, 3) - however, we have learned that creates a significant advantage for the home team.  It can also take a 'good game' experience, and flush it down the toilet with the never ending inning.  We really believe that this is the way to go, and understand there will be mixed feelings about it.  Thanks for understanding.

Pitching Mound and Base Distances

Cub League K, 1st and 2nd (8u)

  • Pitching Distance: 35 feet
  • Bases: 60 feet

Bear League 3rd and 4th (10u)

  • Pitching Distance: 35 feet
  • Bases: 60 feet

Golden Bear League 5th and 6th (12u)

  • Pitching Distance: 40 feet
  • Bases: 60 feet

Varsity Bears 7th, 8th and 8th (14u)

  • Pitching Distance: 43 feet
  • Bases: 60 feet

Re: Bases.  Bear Cub has traditionally run with the bases at 55' (putting throw down bases for the littles at 45').  We are working with UA Parks and Rec to discuss this now re: the standard softball diamond of 60'.  Having said that... this is  our first adventure beyond Northam Park.  These fields will have been set up for baseball and we will do our best to equip them for softball play as quickly as we can.  In the meantime, we are happy to provide coaches with throw down bases.  We are happy to get you whatever might be helpful... just know that when you are on a field, the bases may or may not be set in their permanent places.  And for now - we have to make do and make it work.  Again, grateful to Bear Cub Baseball, UAJBA, the City of UA - for making this 'extra season' possible.  These folks gave us every field we asked for in order to make this happen.  

Distances have been aligned to support USSSA and other standards.

Stealing & Drop Third Strike

Cub League: No Stealing & No Drop Third Strike

Bear League: Stealing, except home & No Drop Third Strike

  • Stealing is permitted, except for home
  • Leading off is not allowed in fast pitch softball - players are permitted to steal bases, provided they do not leave the base before the pitcher has released the ball.
  • A runner on 1st or 2nd can advance/steal only one base per pitch even in the event of an overthrow in live ball territory.  If they advance more than one base, they are liable to be put out.  At the end of the play, if the runner is safe and has advanced more than one base, the umpire will return the runner to the correct base. 
  • A runner cannot steal home.  If they advance to home, they are liable to be put out.  At the end of the play if the runner is safe and has advanced the umpire will return the runner to the correct base.
  • A batter, who received base on balls, cannot then attempt to steal second base
  • No drop third strike

Golden Bear League: Stealing, except home & Drop Third in Play

Please see additional clarifications below.  Thanks!

  • Stealing is permitted, except for home
  • Leading off is not allowed in fast pitch softball - players are permitted to steal bases, provided they do not leave the base before the pitcher has released the ball.
  • A runner on 1st or 2nd can advance/steal only one base per pitch even in the event of an overthrow in live ball territory.  If they advance more than one base, they are liable to be put out.  At the end of the play, if the runner is safe and has advanced more than one base, the umpire will return the runner to the correct base. 
  • A runner cannot steal home.  If they advance to home, they are liable to be put out.  At the end of the play if the runner is safe and has advanced the umpire will return the runner to the correct base.
  • A batter, who received base on balls, cannot then attempt to steal second base
  • Drop third strike - if first base is occupied, or there are two outs, and the third strike is not caught before the ball touches the ground, the batter-runner is entitled to advance.  

Varsity (in preparation for school ball): Stealing & Drop Third in Play

  • Stealing is permitted
  • Leading off is not allowed in fast pitch softball - players are permitted to steal bases, provided they do not leave the base before the pitcher has released the ball
  • A runner on 1st and 2nd can advance/steal only one base per pitch even in the event of an overthrow in live ball territory.
  • A runner cannot steal home.  If they advance to home, they are liable to be put out.  At the end of the play, if the runner is safe and has advanced the umpire will return the runner to the correct base.
  • Drop third strike, is in play as indicated above.

A few Golden Bear League Clarifications

General Thoughts re: GB

For the Golden Bear League we want them to play full rules softball with the exception of stealing home and the 8 batters, 4 runs, 3 outs (whatever comes first).  To the point below, over throw of the pitcher or if the catcher makes a play on the runner on 3rd, it would not be stealing home.  If that catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher, the runner can't go.   The follow-up to this thought is that if you play 8/4/3, sending girls home from 3rd will limit your at bats.  It's actually a detriment to the entire team.  It's important to learn the play but having 4 girls bat every inning won't leave much opportunity for at bats.  

Lead Offs

Succinct Answer: No lead offs prior to the release.  At release, runner can jump out to read play or steal.

There are no "lead offs" since this isn't baseball but there should be an emphasis on taking the "fast 3 steps" on the release and reading the play.  

Stopping/Time/Dead Ball

Succinct Answer: If a ball is hit to outfield, play is dead when infielder has possession.  If a ball is hit to the infield, play is dead when pitcher has possession.  

“Play will stop when the lead runner has stopped or the pitcher has the ball and at least one foot inside the pitching circle” (Georgia USSA).  In the spring, teams played if the ball was hit to the outfield, the runner could run the bases until an infielder had possession.  With the being said, we are asking coaches with runners on the field to hold their runners once the ball reaches an infielder, with the ball officially dead once it gets to the pitcher.  We realize, not perfect – but, at the same time we do not want teams to run circles around another team, while they’re trying to ‘end the play’.  We also realize, that the attempt to end the play is an opportunity for very aggressive base running, but we cannot encourage or allow that in a recreational softball league.

Overthrows/Stealing Example

Succinct Answer: Runners at third can score on an overthrow from a batted ball. Runners may not score from third on an overthrow from a catcher trying to get a runner stealing.

Can a runner on 3rd score when a batted ball is overthrown to first?
Example:  1 out, runners on 2nd and 3rd.  Batted ball is a slow grounder to SS - runner on third scores, runner on 2nd Rounds 3rd and takes off to score while SS fields the ball and over throws 1st.  Does the second run count?  

Yes, in the Golden Bear League a girl on second could score on an overthrow of the 1st baseman.  The idea is to get right field to back up 1st base and also make better throws.  That said, playing 8/4/3 and you send girls all the time you won't get many at bats.  I may also prefer to have the girl round third but stay on 3rd so that we could work on how to run the bases from 3rd base.  3rd base is a really important base to learn to run and it's the one base that you are 3' (or now 6") away from the girls talking to them all the time about reading the play.  

Bunting

League is researching guidelines.

Pitching Guidelines, Drills and Videos

We want to set them up for success so that they can feel confident on the mound!  Pitching is all about practicing so they can develop muscle memory.  Here are the basic rules we went over and the 3 drills we will be using.

1.  Both feet must start on the mound
2.  Start with ball in one hand, glove in the other
3.  Bring hands together (no more than 10 seconds) then you must start your pitch
4.  While you step out, your drag foot must have contact with the ground

There are other rules, but these are our focus. Everyone has a different motion, and that’s fine, as long as it’s the same every time they deliver a pitch.  

Drills:
1.  Flick - the most important part of the pitch is the consistency of the release.  The ball should be released at their hip with the inside of the arm brushing the body.  It’s a snap of the wrist.
2.  T Drill - Start with arms in the shape of a T, back foot angled a bit inward, release at the hip (no step).
3.  K Drill - Start with throwing arm up by the ear, engage your legs, release at the hip, drag pivot foot up toward back ankle of non pivot foot (girls can step or just keep non pivot foot stationary).

Attached are the USSA Softball Rules.  Pitching rules start on page 36.