The batter, youth base coaches, on-deck batters and any other player on the offensive team that comes into the live-ball area must wear a batting helmet. A player who comes out to retrieve a bat or chase down a foul ball is included under this rule. The batting helmet must have flaps over both ears and must have a face guard attached. The catcher is required to wear a helmet with face mask with a throat protector attached. She must also wear shin guards and a chest protector.
Some leagues use two-year increments to divide up their players, going with 10 and under for all nine and 10-year-old players. The rules allow for an age-pure designation of 10 and under and 9 and under. Either way, playing age is determined using December 31 of the prior calendar year as the basis date. A player who turns 11 on January 1 would still play 10-and-under for the upcoming softball season.
Coach and Machine Pitch
The USSSA rules allow for leagues to use a coach pitch or machine pitch option for 9 and 10-year-old girls. It's not a requirement, but leagues who want to assist with getting more balls in play for the benefit of the batter and fielders can use either of those options. The speed of the pitch is designated as 37 mph from 40 feet away for machine pitch and batters get eight pitches to put the ball in play. The coach pitch rules limit each hitter to six pitches from an adult coach.
The Playing Field
Girls in the 9 and 10-year-old division of softball play on the same field as older girls, with the bases set 60 feet apart. The rules do move the pitcher's circle in closer to home plate. While older girls pitch from either 43 feet (the high school distance) or 40 feet (beginning at age 11), these younger girls pitch 35 feet away from home plate.
The regular-season games are played on a time limit in girls softball. No new inning can start after the teams have been playing for one hour and 30 minutes. This is the base regardless how many innings have been played.