Softball Rules

Softball Rules

Niagara Rec Sports Softball Rules


  • We will be using SPO Hot Dot Classic Plus balls (SPO12HDSY) for all of our leagues.
  • Each team will be given 2 balls at the start of the season, teams are to supply their own if more balls are needed.
  • At the beginning of the game each team will give the umpire 1 ball to use during the game. The umpire will return the ball at the end of the game.  The team listed first on the schedule will have to provide a new (or reasonably new) ball.  The team listed 2nd on the schedule will provide a used but in good shape ball.


  • All bats must be USSSA certified and have the USSSA 1.20 BPF thumbprint on the taper of the bat.  If you are buying a new bat make sure it has the USSSA 1.20 BPF thumbprint
  • We also allow the older bats with the ASA 2004 stamp.
  • Any other bats will not be permitted.

_ASA 2004 Softball Bat _USSSA bat NRS

Bases & Home Plate Mat – St. Catharines Leagues

  • Niagara Rec Sports has a box at each park containing bases, the mat to be used at home plate and a hammer to install the bases.
  • The umpire will arrive at the park and open the box for the teams
  • The teams playing the first game at the park is responsible for setting up the bases, home plate and ensuring the hammer and any other set up equipment is placed back in the box before the game begins.
  • Both teams can set up the bases.
  • The last teams to play at the park are responsible for removing the bases & home plate mat and ensuring all bases, home plate mat & equipment are back in the box, the teams and umpire will ensure the box is locked after all equipment is in the box.
  • If the next time the box is opened and something is missing it will be the responsibility of the previous 2 teams playing at the last time slot of the night (responsible for putting the equipment back in the box and ensuring it is locked)  for the cost of replacing the equipment, including pegs.


  • All jewellery must be removed prior to playing, including and not limited to rings (including wedding rings), earrings, nose rings and any other piercings.


  • Fielding:
  • 10 Players on the field
  • 6 Males max on the field
  • No max for female players on the field.
  • 8 players min are needed to play, 3 of whom have to be female ( still no more than 6 males max on the field). (see short handed rule below)
  • A female can be catcher only if she is the 5th female on the field.
  • Maximum roster size is 20 total players (contact NRS for exceptions).
  • Forfeits due to insufficient players (see short handed rule below)
  • The opposing team can choose to still play the game and even give the opposing team players, this will still be considered an official NRS Game and the result of the score will count. (see short handed rule below)

Short Handed Rule:

  • If a team is short handed they are given 10min minutes form the start of the scheduled game time to wait for enough players to show up.  The clock will still start at the scheduled game time even if the team is waiting for the player to arrive.  If the player does not arrive it will be considered a forfeit.  Teams also have the option to agreeing to the below rules.
  • If teams are short females, the opposing team can agree to let the team play with less females and the game will still count.  This must be decided before the game begins.  For instance 6 males and 2 females would make up the 8 needed to play
  • If teams are short males, the opposing team can agree to let the team play with less males and the game will still count.  This must be decided before the game begins.
  • If teams are short in general the opposing team can still allow them to play short, the game will still count.
  • Teams can also give the opposing team players (male or female) if they are short
  • All of the above must be decided before the game begins as the game will count and is official
  • A player may be added any time before the end of the game,
  • If the team that is short ends up with enough players (10 total, 6 male 4 females) during the game to field the team, the players that were lent to the team by the opposing team may go back to their original team if they decide to do so (if any) .
  • If one team does not meet the minimum requirements to play and the opposing team does not wish to allow them to play short, or does not wish to lend them players that team will take a 6-0 loss.

Playing Field

  • Bases are 65 feet apart.
  • Pitching distance is 53 feet.
  • Batter’s box is 7 feet by 3 feet
  • Double base shall be used at first base.
  • Coaches’ Box is 15 feet by 5 feet and 12 feet back from the foul line.
  • Strike Mat / Home Plate: A 2 feet by 3 feet mat.
  • A safe line at home plate and a commitment line 21 feet from home plate shall be used.


  • Pitching masks are recommended but not mandatory
  • Gloves may be worn by any player.
  • Trappers may be worn by the catcher, pitcher and first baseman only.
  • Batting gloves may be warn by players batting, but not on throwing hand when in the outfield.
  • Shoes may not have metal cleats.
  • Caps, if worn, must face forward.
  • Bats:  Must be approved by SPO/SPN.
  • Balls: Restricted flight 12 inch. Optic yellow colour is recommended but white is also acceptable.
  • Helmets: Approved helmets may be worn by any player.

Starting The Game

  • A coin toss, with the winner determining which team will bat second.
  • Playoffs: The higher ranking team will be given home field advantage.


  • A game consists of seven innings or 1 hour and 15 minutes, whichever comes first.
  • If the game is called due weather, the score at the last completed inning will be the final score.
  • Provided 4 complete innings (three and one half innings if the second batting team is leading) have been played.
  • The umpire will call last inning at the 65min mark if the game is not already in the last inning.
  • Final Inning – If the home team (batting last) has the lead going into the bottom of the final inning they do not bat in that final inning as they have already won the game.
  • If the home team scores a run to take the lead in the final inning the game is over as they have won the game. No additional runs count and no more at bats are needed.


  • There can not be a tie in the playoffs.
  • If time expires or 7 innings are complete and the score is tied the score will be taken form the last complete inning where one team was winning.
  • If there was no inning where a team was leading a coin toss will decide the winner.
  • Based on the regular season standings the higher seeded team will have the decision to take the field or bat first throughout the playoffs. (not a coin toss)

Mercy Rule

  • A maximum of 6 runs per inning may be scored, except for the last inning where there is no maximum.
  • A team may voluntarily withdraw from the game if they are losing by 12 or more runs any time after 5 innings (5 1/2 innings if home team).


  • A game shall be declared a forfeit if a team fails to field the required number of players prior to or during the game, refuses to continue the game after a suspension of play, intentionally tries to delay or hasten the game, or intentionally violates a rule of the game after being warned by the umpire. (see short handed rule for exceptions)
  • A forfeit shall be declared if a player, ejected from the game by an umpire, does not leave the park when directed to do so.
  • When a player is ejected and must leave the ball park, that player must move far enough away so that they may not be seen or heard by the participants of the game and may not participate with the game in any manner.
  • If a forfeit takes place the other team will be awarded the greater of a 6-0 win, or keep the current game score (if a partial game has been played) which ever is greater.


  • Any team member openly using profanity during a game shall be ejected from further participation in that game.


  • A batter or runner is ruled out immediately if discovered wearing exposed jewellery. Any advance by other runners as a result of this player batting the ball is nullified. If, after making a play, a defensive player is discovered wearing exposed jewellery, the manager of the offensive team may take the result of the play or have the play nullified, and have the batter return to bat with the same count as before the infraction and all runners must return to their previous base. In all cases, the player must remove the jewellery.
  • NOTE: Facial jewellery may not be covered with tape.
  • NOTE: It is strongly recommended that no jewellery of any type be worn in any play. If worn, each player is solely responsible for any injury/damage that may be caused by this jewellery.
  • The umpire may have any player removed any jewellery or equipment that he deems dangerous.


  • A run is scored when a player safely touches, in order first base, second base, third base and crosses behind home plate.
  • A runner may not score ahead of a preceding runner who has not been retired.
  • A run may not score if the last out of an inning is a force out or a preceding runner declared out.
  • The score of a forfeited game shall be 6-0 in favour of the team not at fault.

Score keeping

  • It is suggested for teams/ scorekeepers to coordinate with the opposing team’s score keeper after each inning to ensure both teams have the proper score and eliminate any arguments regarding the score.

 Home Run Rule

  • Match plus 1 rule will be in effect.
  • If your team hits an out of the park home run they cannot hit another home run until the opposing team hits a home run.  After which both teams are permitted to hit 1 more home run.  This can continue throughout the entire game.
  • If you team hits any additional home runs before the opposing team hits a home run it will be considered an out.
  • A batter hitting a ball over the fence in a game in excess of the limit shall be ruled out.
  • Any ball touched by a defensive player which then goes over the fence in fair territory shall be a four base award and not considered a home run.
  • If a player hits an out of the park home run but then misses a base and/or does not score it will count towards the team home run total.
  • If a batter is ruled out because of the excessive home run rule, the ball is dead, no runs may score and all runners must return to the base occupied at the time of the pitch.
  • The batter that hit the home run must run and touch all bases in consecutive order in order for the run to be counted.


  • Teams pitch to the opposing team
    Before each pitch, the pitcher must stand with one foot (pivot) within the pitcher’s box, facing the batter with the ball held in one hand. The pitcher must wait until the batter is in the batter’s box to pitch the ball.
  • A step may be taken in any direction simultaneous with the release of the pitch provided the pivot foot remains in contact with the box until the pitch is released.
  • The pitch shall be delivered with an underhand motion, go 6 to 12 feet in height and land on the 2 by 3 foot mat.
  • If a pitch is not between 6 to 12 feet in height the umpire will call an illegal pitch and it will count as a ball if the batter does not swing.

Defensive line – 150 line

  • A defensive line/ 150 line consisting of an arc shall be used where no outfielder is allowed in front of the line until the ball is hit.
  • If this is violated the offence has the option of taking the result of the play or an award of one base to the batter and all runners.
  • It is the umpires discretion.


  • The batting order must be set before the game begins.
  • The scorekeeper from the opposing team may request to see your batting order at any time during the game, if they ask you must show them your batting order
  • The batting order consists of a minimum of 8 players (minimum 3 females).
  • Teams may not have more than 2 consecutive males batting in order at any time for any reason.
  • The batting order can follow a male, male, female pattern or Male, Female, Male Female, or Male, Female, Female, Female
  • If a player comes late in the first inning they cannot be placed above anyone that has already been at bat and they must be placed at the bottom of the batting order in a way that there are not more than 2 males batting consecutively at any time.
  • If a player comes late after the first inning they must be placed at the bottom of the batting order in a way that there are not more than 2 males batting consecutively at any time.
  • If placing the new player at the end of the batting order means having more than 2 consecutive males batting the teams may re-arrange the bottom of the batting order to ensure the above rules are followed and the newly arriving player must be placed closest to the bottom of the batting order as possible.
  • Only batters necessary to meet the above rules are allowed to be moved, the entire batting order is not allowed to be changed.
  • If a team is caught violating the above by putting more than 2 males up to bat consecutively the team will receive an automatic out for that batter.
  • If a team is caught changing the batting order after any batter has had an “at bat” the player batting out of turn will be called out.
  • An at bat counts as soon as the batter steps up to the plate and one pitch has left the pitchers hand.

Base Running

  • There is no stealing
  • There are no lead-offs
  • Sliding is permitted at 2nd and 3rd base only.
  • Safety base is used at first and safe line is used at home plate.
  • Players do not touch home plate at any time, just cross the safe line to score.
  • If a player steps on home plate at any time they are out (batting or running the bases).
  • If a player steps over the commitment line, they must continue home.  Players can step on the line but if the whole foot (or any other part of their body) is over the line they must continue home.
  • A batter may not throw their bat. If they throw their bat, the batter is out.
  • Do not touch home players at any time, if a player steps on home plate they will be out.  Players running home only have to cross the safety line.
  • If a batter hits a foul ball and the ball is caught, then the batter is out.
    The runners may advance after the ball is caught as long as they tag up before advancing.

Infield Fly Rule

  • A batter is out if they hit an infield fly with less than two out and runners on first and second or first, second and third.

Extra Players:

  • Additional players, up to the number of players on the team’s legal roster (maximum 20), may be used. If more than 10 players are on the batting order, any 10 (minimum 3 females) may play defence.


  • There are 10 players on the field at one time.
  • If teams are short players they need a minimum of 8 players 3 of whom has to be Female.
  • ***If teams are short females the opposing team can agree to let the team play with less 2 females and the game will still count.  This must be decided before the game begins.  For instance 6 males and 2 females would make up the 8 needed to play***
  • There is a maximum of 6 Males on the field at all times.
  • There is a minimum of 3 female on the field at all times.
  • There is no maximum of female players.
  • If there are only 2 or 4 female players on the field they cannot play catcher.
  • If there are five females playing the field, a female may play catcher.
  • Fielders may not block the base path.
  • Once the runner has crossed the commitment line the runner can only get out when the catcher has the ball and has a foot on the mat.
  • There is no tag allowed at home plate.


  • A walk is awarded when a batter has received 4 balls before 3 strikes or a hit. Each batter who receives a walk is awarded first base.  At no time does the walked batter advance to 2nd base regardless of sex.

Courtesy Runners

  • Courtesy runners are allowed only if the batter is injured and is not capable of running the bases on their own.
  • Courtesy runners are not to be used to replace a runner that is capable of running the bases and/ or to give your team an advantage ie. Replacing a slower runner with someone faster.
  • It must be male for male or female for female.
  • The courtesy runner must be the last male/female out.
  • A batter must make it to first base on their own in order to have a courtesy runner run for him/ her (after the at bat is over and the runner is safe at first).

Park Specific Rules

Grantham Lions

  1. If the ball hits the pavement down the third base line either in the air or rolls onto the pavement the play is dead and the runners get one extra base.  If someone is at 3rd they score a run.
  2. If soccer net in the center field outfield obstructs the fielder from catching the ball play is stopped and the runner gets one extra base.  If someone is at 3rd they score a run.

Community 2

  1. If the ball hits the pavement (or a vehicle parked on the pavement) down the first base line (and is fair) either in the air or rolls onto the pavement the play is dead and the runners get one extra base.  If someone is at 3rd they score a run.

Team Members

  • Only registered players are eligible to play for your team.  We make it very easy to add players to your roster right up until mid August when the playoff deadline starts (to avoid ringers).
  • Any team that has unregistered players playing for their team will take an automatic loss.  If they already lost the current game they will take an automatic loss in their next game.  This goes for regular season and playoff games.
  • We will be around at the games and can/ will ask to verify your position on the team with some sort of identification.  If you can not identify yourself you will not be permitted to play in the game.  Any non registered players playing will result in a forfeit of that game.  It is not something we enjoy doing or want to do so please have only registered players playing for your team.

Code of conduct

  • Understand, appreciate and abide by the rules of the game.
  • Respect the integrity and judgment of game officials and NRS staff.
  • Respect your opponent and congratulate them in a courteous manner following each match whether in victory or defeat.
  • Be responsible for your actions and maintain self-control.
    Refrain from using foul or abusive language.
  • Have fun!

There is a zero tolerance for violence and aggression. It will be up to the umpire to make the call and give the consequences for the game night (ejection from the game).  It will be up to the umpire and Niagara Rec Sports as to consequences given after the game regarding suspension from farther games or potentially the entire league for the remainder of the season.

Don’t forget to have fun!!