The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a new rule allowing both feet of pitchers to disengage from the playing surface during their delivery when pushing off the pitcher's plate.
Under the rule, which takes effect with the 2023-24 academic year, the pitcher's pivot foot can become airborne with one push from the pitcher's plate. However, pitchers will not be allowed to replant their pivot foot, resulting in pushing off from a second point and the pitcher being farther away from the pitcher's plate.
NCAA Softball Rules Committee members think whether the pivot foot stays in contact with the ground or is airborne, there is no advantage gained by the pitcher.
Panel members approved a rule change regarding obstruction in baserunning scenarios.
The change is intended to simplify the rule covering when a defensive player impedes the progress of any runner who is legally running bases on a live ball.
Under the revised rule, it is obstruction if the defensive player, while not in possession of the ball, does the following:
- Blocks any part of the leading edge of first, second or third base or home plate.
- Otherwise blocks the runner from advancing or returning to a base.
However, defensive players will not be called for obstruction if they are in possession of the ball or if they are making a legitimate reaction to the trajectory of the ball after it is thrown. Additionally, if in the umpire's judgment the runner would have clearly been out, then obstruction is ignored.
Expansion of video review
The panel approved expanding the scenarios where video review could be used.
The following additional scenarios may be reviewed:
- Runners leaving a base too soon on tag-up plays, or if a runner missed a base.
- Runners leaving a base too early before a pitch. (Note: This would be done only via a coach's challenge, and the umpiring crew could not initiate this type of challenge even after the sixth inning.)
- All home runs.
- Catch/no catch in any situation.
- Whether a batter was hit by a pitch.
Any of the listed reviewable items could be looked at if the action on the field results in a dead ball.
Time between pitches and action clock
The time between when the next pitch must be thrown will be reduced from 25 seconds (10/10/5) to 20 seconds. Also, teams will have the option of using a visible action clock.
The batter must still be ready to hit within 10 seconds, or a strike will be assessed to the batter. If pitchers do not begin their windup before the rest of the time expires, a ball will be awarded to the batter.
If teams choose to not have a visible clock, the umpires will keep the time on the field.
Previously, the batter and the catcher had 10 seconds to be in position to play after the pitcher receives the ball. Pitchers then had 10 seconds to bring their hands together while receiving a signal as to what pitch to throw. The pitcher then had five seconds to deliver the pitch.
Other rules changes
- Allowing the use of a double first base on the field.
- Requiring the fence distance in left and right fields to be 200 feet for new construction.
- Removing the quarter-inch bat knob protrusion requirement to allow for a tapered/flared/cone bat handle.
- Prohibiting assistant coaches from leaving the dugout or bullpen area to appeal, question or argue any play on the field.
- Allowing one-way communication devices to be used during play.
- Allowing the pitcher to throw to any base one time during warmups.
- Allowing a postgame review of ejections that include a suspension.