Softball Terminology

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appeal play – a live or dead ball appeal play is a play about which an umpire cannot make a decision until requested by a member of the non-offending team. The appeal must be made before the next pitch, legal or illegal. If the appeal is made at the end of an inning or at the end of a game, the appeal will not be accepted if all players of the defensive team have left fair territory

assist – a defensive statistic credited to each fielder who throws or deflects a batted or thrown ball to another fielder that results in an out

backnet – the fence behind the batter’s box (the umpire stands behind the catcher with his/her back to the backnet)

ball – as called by the umpire, a pitch that does not enter the strike zone in flight and is not struck at by the batter

base – one of four points on the infield that must be touched by a runner in order to score a run. Also applies to the rubber or canvas bags comprising 1st, 2nd and 3rd base, as well as the rubber plate known as home plate

basepath – the area between each base along which the base runner must generally run

base on balls (BB) – also called a “walk”; the award of 1st base to a batter who, during his/her time at bat, receives four pitches (balls) outside the strike zone at which the batter does not swing; pitchers may also issue an intentional base on balls (walk) without throwing those four pitches, in which case the umpire is notified and he/she awards the batter 1st base

base runner – a player from the offensive team on a base or running between bases

bases loaded – referring to the offensive team when there are runners on 1st, 2nd and 3rd base

bat – is used by the batter and is made of metal, wood, bamboo, plastic, graphite, carbon, magnesium, fibreglass, ceramic or any other composite material approved by the international body. They shall not be longer than 34″ (84.4cm) and weigh no more than 38oz (1077g)

batter-runner – a batter-runner is a player who has finished a turn at bat but has not yet been put out or touched 1st base

batter’s box – a rectangular area beside home plate where the batter must stand to hit the pitch

batting average – an offensive statistic, it is the number of safe hits divided by the number of times at-bat

batting helmet – is used by the batter and all base runners to protect themselves from any stray balls that might be thrown or pitched poorly

batting order – the official list giving the sequence in which members of the (offensive) team must come to bat

batting tee – metal support with rubber tubing on which the ball is placed to facilitate batting when live pitching is not used (used in tee-ball competitions)

blocked ball – a batted, thrown or pitched ball, that is touched, stopped or handled by a person not involved in the game, or which touches an object that is not part of the official playing equipment or official playing area

box score – the summary of a game which lists the line-up for each team, including substitute players, such offensive statistics as at-bats, runs, hits, and runs batted in. The box score also lists such defensive statistics as winning pitcher, losing pitcher, (pitcher credited with) save, errors, wild pitches, and passed balls

bullpen – the area in foul territory adjacent to the outfield where pitchers wait and warm-up during the game, except the pitcher currently being used in the game

bunt – an attempt by the batter to tap the ball with a stationary bat instead of swinging at it; the bat is lowered to the flight of the ball, parallel to the ground

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catch – a legally caught ball that occurs when a fielder catches a batted or thrown ball with their hand/s or glove

catcher – defensive player who normally positions themself behind home plate and receives pitches

catcher’s gear – protective equipment only worn by the catcher. The gear includes a facemask (with throat protector), chest protector, shin guards and a catcher’s glove. It is designed to protect them from pitched or batted balls as a pitched ball can travel up to 130km/hr

centre fielder – the defensive player positioned near the middle of the outfield

change-up – a pitch thrown deceptively slow to surprise the batter

charged defensive conference – when the fielding team request a suspension of play (‘time’) so that a member from the bench can communicate to any defensive player. Three defensive conferences are permitted across a regular seven inning game, and one per inning in extra innings. If the coach makes a substitution for the pitcher, no conference is charged. If the coach insists on an extra conference, the current pitcher is removed from the pitching position for the remainder of the game

charged offensive conference – when the batting team request a suspension of play (‘time’) to speak to any offensive team member. Only one offensive conference is permitted in any half inning. If the coach insists on another conference, the coach shall be ejected for the game

chopped ball – a ball at which the batter strikes downward with a chopping motion of the bat, so that the ball bounces high into the air

complete game – a pitcher’s statistic recorded when he/she has thrown every pitch for his/her team during a game

crow hop – the act of a pitcher who does not push off from the pitcher’s plate to deliver the ball. A crow hop occurs if the pitcher steps off from the pitcher’s plate (thereby establishing a second starting point) and then pushes off from the newly established starting point to complete the delivery. NOTE: The pitcher may leap from the pitcher’s plate, land, and with a continuous motion, deliver the ball to the plate. The pivot foot may then push off and/or follow through with this continuous action – this is NOT considered to be a crow hop

curveball – a pitch thrown with a rotation that makes the ball curve

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dead ball – a dead ball is one that:

  • Touches any object that is not part of the official playing equipment or area, or a player/person not engaged in the game
  • Passes out of the outer limits of the playing field
  • Lodges in the umpire’s gear or an offensive player’s clothing
  • The umpire has ruled dead

defensive team – the nine players in the field (pitcher, catcher, 1st, 2nd and 3rd basemen, shortstop, and left, centre and right fielders)

delayed dead ball – a game situation in which the ball remains alive until the conclusion of play. The umpire may then rule the ball dead and enforce the appropriate ruling

designated player (DP) – a player designated to bat for any starting player without otherwise affecting the status of player(s) in the game.

diamond – the area on the softball infield between the bases on each corner

double – a scoring statistic credited to a batter when he/she has hit a ball safely into fair territory and advances to 2nd base in one continuous play without the aid of defensive errors

double play – a defensive play in which two offensive players are put out as a result of a continuous action

dugout – the semi-enclosed area beside the playing field where players sit when they are not actively involved in the game

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earned run – a run for which the pitcher is held accountable

earned run average (ERA) – the number of runs charged to a pitcher averaged over innings pitched

error – a defensive statistic charged for each misplay (fumble, muff or wild throw) which permits a runner or batter-runner to advance to one or more bases without being put out

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fair ball – a ball hit into the field of play (fair territory)

fair territory – part of the playing field within and including the 1st and 3rd base foul lines, from home base to the extreme playing field fence

fastball – a pitcher’s fastest pitch

fielder – any one of the nine players of the defensive line up (pitcher, catcher, 1st, 2nd and 3rd basemen, shortstop, and left, centre and right fielders)

fielder’s choice – the act of a defensive player who handles a fair ground ball and, instead of throwing to 1st base to put out the batter-runner, throws to another base in an attempt to put out the preceding runner

fielding percentage – a defensive statistic also called fielding average, it is the sum of putouts and assists divided by the sum of putouts, assists, and errors in each fielding position played by a player

1st baseman – the defensive player in the portion of the infield near 1st base

fly ball – a ball hit in the air

flex player – the flex player is the defensive player for whom the Designated Player (DP) is batting and whose name appears in the 10th position on the line-up card

forced out – an out made on a forced runner. The fielder, while holding the ball, contacts the base or touches the ball to the base before the forced runner reaches the base

forced runner – a base runner who is forced to advance around the bases because there is another base runner or batter-runner advancing behind them

foul ball – a batted ball that:

  • Settles on foul territory between home and 1st base
  • Settles on foul territory between home and 3rd base
  • That bounds past 1st or 3rd base on or over foul territory
  • That first falls on foul territory beyond 1st or 3rd base, or
  • While on or over foul territory touches the person of an umpire or player or any foreign object to the natural ground

A foul fly shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not whether the infielder is on foul or fair territory at the time they touch the ball

foul lines – the two straight lines extending from home plate past the outside edges of 1st and 3rd bases to the outfield fence

foul territory – any part of the playing field that is not included in fair territory

foul tip – a batted ball that goes sharply and directly from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught. Any foul tip that is caught is a strike and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand

free runner – a base runner who is not forced to advance around the bases

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glove – is used by every fielder placed in a defensive position. They are made of leather and have a pocket which is the area between the thumb and first finger that allows for the ball to be caught

grand slam – a home run hit with a base runner on each base, thereby scoring all 4 runs.

ground ball – any ball that hits the ground

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half inning – three outs allowed to the offensive team before it must take defensive positions

hit – when a batter reaches 1st base (or any succeeding base) safely on a fair ball which settles on the ground or touches a fence before being touched by a fielder, or which clears a fence

hit batsman – also known as “hit by pitched ball” (HPB). A batter who has been hit by a legally pitched ball. The batter is awarded 1st base providing they do not swing and the pitch is not called a strike

home plate – the five-sided piece of whitened rubber that the batter stands beside while at bat and the area the pitch needs to pass over to be judged a strike

home run – the run made by a batter who makes it around all the bases and back to home plate in one play

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illegal pitch – an act by the pitcher not allowed by rule, with or without a runner on base. If there are runners on base, each advances one base. In every case the batter is credited with one ball

illegal player – a player who is taking position in the line-up (either on offense or defence) who has not been reported to the umpire

infield – the diamond-shaped area in fair territory, formed by the three bases and home plate, is normally covered by defensive players (known as infielders)

inning – an inning is completed when both teams have completed their turn at bat, with either three outs having been achieved or, if playing a special batting rule (e.g. 9th batter rule) each player in the batting line up has completed their turn at bat

intentional base on balls – a base on balls intentionally issued by the pitcher; the pitcher may notify the umpire of the desire to intentionally walk a batter, in which case four balls do not need to be thrown, and the umpire will immediately award the batter 1st base

interference – an offensive player or team member that impedes, hinders or confuses a defensive player attempting to execute a play

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leaping – the act of a pitcher, which causes them to be airborne on their initial move and push from the pitcher’s plate. This is a legal pitch, providing the original push is from the pitcher’s plate

left fielder – the defensive player in the outfield closest to the 3rd base foul line

left on base – those runners who have not scored and have not been put out but who remain on base at the time of the 3rd out in the half-inning

line drive – a ball hit sharply in a straight line roughly parallel to the ground

live ball – a ball in play

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mercy rule – see run ahead rule

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no-hitter – a pitching statistic credited when the pitcher completes a game and allows the opposing team no hits

obstruction – Obstruction is an act by a member of the defensive team that hinders or prevents a batter from swinging at a pitched ball or that impedes the progress of a runner or batter-runner running to a base

offensive team – the team that is at bat

on deck batter – (offensive player) waiting in their defined area adjacent to their bench to bat next

out – elimination of an offensive player

outfield – the area outside the diamond but still within the foul lines, covered by defensive players (outfielders)

over throw – when the ball is thrown beyond the dead ball line past either 1st or 3rd base. The ball is dead and each base-runner is awarded two bases from the last legally touched base at the time of the throw

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passed ball – a pitch that should have been held or controlled by the catcher

perfect game – a statistic credited to a pitcher when he/she completes a game and no batter on the opposing team has reached 1st base

pinch hitter – a player who bats in place of a teammate

pinch runner – a player who enters the game at a base to run for another player

pitcher – the player who throws the ball from the centre of the Softball diamond to the catcher. In Softball the pitcher throws underarm, unlike in baseball where the pitch is usually overarm

play ball – the term used by the plate umpire to indicate that play shall begin or be resumed

putout – credited to each fielder who:

  • Catches a fly ball or a line drive, whether fair or foul
  • Catches a thrown ball which puts out a batter or runner
  • Tags out a runner when the runner is off the base to which the runner is legally entitled

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re-entry – the act of any of the starting players returning to the game after being legally or illegally substituted

right fielder – the defensive player in the outfield closest to the 1st base foul line

rise ball – a technique used by the pitcher so that the ball lifts as it reaches the batter

run – the score made by the offensive team each time a player safely reaches home plate

run batted in (RBI) – an offensive statistic credited to a batter for every run which reaches home plate because of the batter’s safe hit, sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, infield out or fielder’s choice; or which is forced over home plate by reason of the batter becoming a runner with the bases loaded (on a base on balls, or an award of 1st base for being touched by a pitched ball, or for interference or obstruction)

rundown – a base runner who finds themself in the basepath between the base they were on and the subsequent base that they’re trying to advance to or retreat back from in an effort to not get tagged out

run ahead rule – also called the mercy rule; if one team is losing by 15 runs after three innings, 10 runs after four innings, or 7 runs after five innings the game is ended at that point

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sacrifice bunt – an offensive statistic. A sacrifice bunt is scored when before two are out:

  • The batter advances one or more runners with a bunt and is put out at 1st base or would have been put out at 1st base except for a fielding error, or
  • The fielders handle a bunted ball without error in an unsuccessful attempt to put out a preceding runner

sacrifice fly – an offensive statistic scored when, before two are out, the batter hits a fly ball or a line drive which is handled by a defensive player in the outfield which:

  • Is caught and a runner scores after the catch
  • Is dropped and a runner scores, if in the scorer’s judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly ball been caught

safe – offensive player advances without being put out and may remain on the base to which he/she advanced

safety base – also called the double base (applies to the 1st base only). The use of the double base at first base is designed to prevent collisions between the batter-runner and defensive players making a play at first base, it also allows clearer throwing lanes for defensive plays near the first base line, which keeps the batter-runner safer.

scoring position – a good position for scoring a run on most hits, referring specifically to a base runner standing on 2nd base or 3rd base

2nd baseman – the defensive player in the infield, stationed near 2nd base behind the pitcher

shortstop – a defensive player who normally positions him/herself in fair territory between 2nd base and the 3rd baseman

single – a hit that allows a batter to reach 1st base safely

slap – performed by mostly left-handed hitters, it is an attempt to hit a ground ball with a controlled short, chopping motion (rather than with a full swing). A slap is not considered a bunt

slugging percentage – a batting statistic. The total number of bases reached by safe hits, divided by the total times at bat (or total at-bats)

squeeze play – a play in which the offensive team, with a runner on 3rd base, attempts to score that runner by means of the batter contacting the ball

steal – a base runner’s successful advance from one base to the next during a pitch that is not hit

strike – a pitched ball that enters the strike zone and which the batter fails to hit, a pitched ball that the batter swings at and misses, or a pitched ball that results in a foul ball (with less than two strikes on the batter already)

strikeout – scored when: a batter is put out by a 3rd strike caught by the catcher, or a batter is put out by a 3rdstrike not caught when there is a runner on first and less than two are out

strike zone – the space over any part of home plate under the batter’s armpits and above the top of their knees when they assume a natural batting stance

substitute – any member of a team’s roster who is not listed as a starting player, or a starting player who re-enters the game

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tag – touching a base runner with the ball or with a hand or glove that is holding the ball in order to put them out when they are off base

10th batter rule – applies to some forms of slowpitch Softball. When the 10th batter in the line-up comes to bat, the umpire must notify the fielding team. Once the 10th batter has completed their turn at bat and all plays are completed, the batting side is deemed to have been retired

tie breaker – if the game is tied after seven innings the game will continue using the “International Tie-Breaker Rule”. Under this rule, each team starts the extra innings with the player due to bat last, as a base runner on 2nd base. Each subsequent inning will start the same until a winner has been determined (in timed games in some competitions the tie breaker is used when required to achieve a result, such as finals)

3rd baseman – the defensive player in the infield stationed near 3rd base

time – term used by the umpire to order the suspension of play

triple play – a continuous action play by the defence on which three offensive players are put out

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utility player – a player who may play in more than one fielding position

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walk – also called base on balls (BB). An automatic advance to 1st base for the batter after the pitcher delivers four “balls” as called by the umpire, based on their being outside the strike zone

wild pitch – a pitch so high, so low, or so wide of home plate that it cannot be handled with ordinary effort by the catcher