College Softball Pitching Rules
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A handful of important regulations vary from one sanctioning body to another regarding college softball pitching -- right down to where you can stand on the pitcher's plate -- and the NCAA regulates down to the color of your glove. So it's best to know the most important rules when you join the team.
This one is key because it varies wildly among some of softball's major governing bodies and associations. The Amateur Softball Association says the back foot must touch the rubber and no backward step is allowed to build momentum, while the U.S. Specialty Sports Association allows for the stride foot to sit behind the rubber, and allows for a backward step. The NCAA sides with the ASA. No backward starts are allowed, and both feet must touch the rubber before the windup.
Pitchers in college must land in the pitching lane after releasing the ball. The lane, which isn't an actual, visible line on the field on most other levels of play, is intended to keep pitchers from driving themselves into the air and landing outside of the 24-inch radius. Pitchers cannot leap. Though the NCAA recognizes some lift off the ground may occur, both feet cannot leave the ground simultaneously.
The pitcher's glove and its lacing must be tan, gray, brown, white or black, or any combination of those colors. The manufacturer's logo is not considered in this instance and can be any color -- a rule clarified by the NCAA prior to the 2010 season to clear confusion. This is not a stylistic rule but rather it is intended to keep pitchers from using gloves whose coloring may distract the batter or obscure the ball.
The pitcher is required to throw the ball underhand, using no more than 1 1/2 arm revolutions to gain velocity from a release point lower than her hip. Her wrist must be within elbow's distance from her hip. Should she drop the ball or commit another sort of illegal pitch - -such as beginning the windup motion with the ball in both hands -- the ball is considered in play for baserunners to advance and a ball is rewarded to the batter.
Jeff Herman began his journalism career in 2000. An experienced, award-winning sportswriter, his work has appeared in "The Washington Post," "ESPN the Magazine" and the "Boston Herald," among other publications. Herman has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from West Virginia University.