Ask the Ump!

STEALING BASES

QUESTION: In high school softball only, when can a base runner take a lead / steal a base (On the pitcher’s backswing, release of pitch or when the ball reaches home plate)? If base runner violates the rule, is the ball dead or delayed dead? Is there a penalty assessed?

ANSWER: Base runner can advance once the pitcher releases the pitch from her hand. If runner leaves too soon, the ball is dead and runner is called out with no pitch declared in count to batter (Rule 8, Sec. 6, Art. 18, F.P.).

QUESTION: In high school baseball only, runner on third base, pitcher is in set position with hands together. Base runner breaks for home; pitcher steps back off rubber and throws home as batter contacts ball for a single. Legal play? Live, dead or delayed dead ball play? Is this interference?

ANSWER: Dead ball because batter interfered with a play at home by contacting a live ball not considered a pitch. If there were less than two outs, the runner would be declared out. If there were two outs, batter would be called for third out (Rule 5, Sec. 1, Art. 1, e; Rule 7-3-5; Rule 8-4-2, l).

This play cannot happen in softball because runner is restricted until pitch is released.