Basic Age Group Rules Summary
Here is a summary of the basic rules differences at each age group:
The 6U league is intended to be a beginner's league where girls are introduced to fastpitch softball. Often this may be the girls first experience with softball. The league is about learning fundamentals and having fun. While batting, each girl will receive up to 3 pitches from a coach. If the batter has not put the ball in play, then she will hit off a batting tee to finish the at bat. There are no walks or strikeouts. Base-running is "one base at a time" and there is no stealing or advancing on errors. Girls will rotate in the field so that they have the opportunity to learn all positions. There are 10 defenders in the field at this level. An 11 inch softball is used at this level.
The 8U league is still primarily focused on fundamentals and skill development. Many of the same concepts and rules from 6U still apply at 8U. The primary difference at 8U is that it is 100% coach pitch. There are no walks but there are strikeouts at this age. There is no stealing or advancement on errors, though runners are allowed to advance more than one base on hits to the outfield. Girls still rotate defensively through all the positions. There are 10 defenders in the field at this level. An 11 inch softball is used at this level.
The 10U league is the introduction to pitching and less restrictions while running bases. The specific rules vary depending on which level you are playing (1st-year, 2nd-year, A) but in general girls will be pitching instead of coaches. As it is the introduction to pitching, umpires give a lot of flexibility regarding pitching mechanics as well as the strike zone. Girls pitch from a distance of 35 feet. Stealing bases is allowed with some restrictions based on the level. Girls can take multiple bases on balls hit into play and advance on errors/overthrows for balls hit in play as well. There are 10 defenders in the field at this level. An 11 inch softball is used at this level.
12U and 14U
In general, the restrictions on the standard rules are removed at these age groups. Girls will pitch at a distance of 40 feet. There are 9 defenders in the field. Stealing of home and advancing on a dropped 3rd strike are allowed. A 12 inch softball is used at these levels.