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Author TOPIC: Softball Pitching Circle

June 3, 2008
1:07:58 PM

Entry #: 2776194
Rule 7.08(a)(5) Note 1 states in part, “[w]hen a runner is off a base after a pitch or as a result of a batter completing a turn at bat, and while the pitcher has the ball within the eight (8) foot radius circle, the runner must immediately attempt to advance to the next base or return to the base the runner is entitled.” The ball is dead, “no pitch” is to be declared, and the runner is out.

The phrase “must immediately attempt” is one that is interpreted differently depending on the division playing. Obviously, we cannot expect an eight-year-old to react as quickly as an eighteen-year-old. The rule requires the runner to make a choice once the ball is held by the pitcher in the circle, advance or retreat. The time to make that choice should be given to the runner before she is called out. This amount of time is naturally a bit longer for younger divisions than their older counterparts.

There is also much confusion about a runner advancing to first on a base-on-balls or similarly acquiring first. Just because the ball reaches the pitcher prior to the runner reaching first does not mean that runner cannot turn the corner at first and stop. Some have interpreted this rule to mean that, if the ball is in the circle, the runner must continue to second base if she turns at first or be called out. This is not the case. The runner should be given the opportunity to turn the corner, stop, find the ball, and make her decision to advance or retreat.

Note 2 of this rule points out that, if the pitcher is making a play on the runner, then the runner shall not be called out. Further, in softball, for the purposes of this rule, faking a throw is considered making a play. Thus, a runner is not required to advance or retreat for fear of being called out if the pitcher is making a play on ANY runner, including a fake throw.

If you have any questions about the eight-foot pitching circle, or any other rule, please send your questions to me at:

Jeffrey Knoebel

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