Are There Any Rules for the Catcher When Playing Softball?
Being a catcher in softball might be one of the most difficult positions to play. Catchers deal with softballs coming at them at a high rate of speed and have to help manage the pitcher and control the game. The specialized nature of catching means that there are certain rules that only pertain to catchers. NCAA softball rules outline specific regulations that apply to catchers.
College softball catchers are required to wear a variety of safety equipment to protect them from pitches and hit balls. Equipment includes guards that protect the area from the foot to the knee, a helmet and a face mask approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. Unlike other fielders, catchers can use mitts of any size. However, the mitts cannot be the same color as the ball.
College softball diamonds include a catcher’s box that is directly behind home plate. It is 7-feet deep and 8-feet, 5-inches wide. The catcher must remain completely inside of the box from the time the pitcher steps on the pitching plate until the ball leaves their hand. If a catcher is outside of the catcher’s box when a pitch is thrown, it is declared an illegal pitch. An exception to this is if the batter sets up for a pitch in front of the batter’s box. In this case, the catcher can move closer to the batter. If a pitch is declared illegal, the team batting has the choice of accepting the result of the play or having the pitch declared a ball with all runners moving up one base.
The catcher cannot interfere with a batter’s ability to swing at a pitch. This includes making contact with the batter or their bat during a swing. If either the batter fails to reach base or a base runner fails to advance to the next base, the batting team has the option of accepting the result of the pitch or the penalty for catcher obstruction. If the obstruction is considered to be flagrant and excessively forceful, the catcher is also ejected from the game.
In some instances, the batter will swing at a pitch and strike it with a glancing blow with the bat. If the ball continues back and is caught by the catcher in their mitt, it is considered a strike. It is treated the same way as if the batter had swung and missed the ball. If the ball is dropped by the catcher or hits any part of them or their equipment other than their mitt first before being caught, it is considered a foul ball.
Richard Manfredi has more than a decade of professional writing experience, both in the media and at a corporate level. Since 2003, he has worked in the public relations industry, creating and executing campaigns for technology and entertainment companies. Manfredi is also a journalist who has worked for the "Orange County Register," as well as several online publications.