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NCAA Softball Obstruction And Halo Rule

By Biraj Khanal / 9 May 2023 07:40 AM

No. 1 Oklahoma sweeps the rivalry series with a victory against the No. 6 Oklahoma State on May 4, 2023.
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NCAA Softball Obstruction rule prohibits softball defenders from blocking the base before possessing the ball. It came into effect in the 2018 season.

NCAA is dedicated to the well-being and triumph of college athletes. Its members consist of 1098 colleges and universities.

The body hosts the college baseball and softball tournaments every year as the teams are segregated into three divisions; Division I, Division II, and Division III. The Amateur Softball Association of America developed the rule from the United States.

The rule regarding obstructions by the NCAA strongly believes that the change is unbiased for base runners and the defense team, where the runners will get a clear path to their base.

The defensive team is not allowed to restrict the path to the base for the baserunners. The change in the rule clarifies itself and analyses removing any loopholes for plays of that nature.

Obstruction Rule

Obstruction rule in softball is called when the defense blocks the way of the baserunners of the opposing team. It was developed to create fair gameplay.

The rule equally treats the base runners and the defensive side, with the runners having a clear path to their base. It still acquires umpires' interpretation in the game.

Ashlyn Anderson of the Kansas sliding down to her bases without obstruction.
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The runners may get into contact with the defender when they attempt to touch the plate if the defender is in front of the base.

They are marked safe if the defense blocks the way before gaining possession. Since softball is not a contact sport, this rule will help the game to be played without any physical injuries.

As compensation for the runners for their path hindrance, they are awarded the next base in the game. Sometimes the umpire gives his final warning to the fielders or even kicks them out of the game if they intentionally hurt the runners.

The NCAA rule 9.5 obstruction suggests that obstruction occurs when a fielder acts to field a batted ball and avoids the runner's making contact with the home base running legally on a live ball.

It can be unintentional or intentional. The most common place of obstruction calls is at home plate, as the catchers are advised to prohibit the running lane before the balls arrive. 

In 2021, in the Women's College World Series game between Oklahoma and Florida, the obstruction was called by the umpire. It was ruled out after the Oklahoma catcher Lynnsie Elam obstructed the runner of the Florida St.

What Is The Halo Rule In Softball?

Halo rule slow pitch softball states pitchers can pitch from anywhere within the pitcher's box, measuring 2" x 5." It focuses on the protection of the pitchers in the game.

Any flown ball struck by a player above or below the head passes the pitcher's box or strikes, then the pitcher will automatically be out. All baserunners are advised to return to their bases as judgment by the umpire.

Halo rule in softball has been created to protect the pitchers.

Baylors pitcher pitching from inside the pitcher's mound in a game.
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Some of the key points to be noted regarding the Halo Rule are below:

  1. If the pitcher gets hit by a ball, the ball is decided dead, and the batter will automatically be out as long as the pitcher is in the safety zone.
  2. If the same batter strikes the pitcher multiple times, the batter is out of the game.
  3. Halo consists of 12 inches on each side of the pitcher's mound and shall extend 2.5 feet toward the plate.
  4. The participating teams hold no right to argue or protest the decision made from the official's perspective.

Some Other Softball Rules:

Besides the Halo Rule, some other rules in softball are implemented in every softball game played. 

The rule focuses on the safety of the pitchers in the game.
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The other softball rules are listed below:

  1. The team must contain nine players and should have five female players.
  2. The game is completed within seven innings, and teams will bat and field with each inning.
  3. The pitcher must throw the ball underhand, being at least one foot on the mound while throwing the ball.
  4. The batter is declared out if the ball is caught by a fielder or missed the ball three times in a row, or tagged by the fielder while running through the bases.
  5. Runners should not interfere with the fielders and should stay within their bases; otherwise, they will be out.
  6. If the batter gets hit by the pitch, it means a free base unless the batsman swings at the pitch.
  7. The batter is declared out after the umpire declaration of the fly ball, regardless of what happens after the signal in the field.
  8. Rainout games will be scheduled in order of their cancellation; if failed to do so will result in the game forfeit.

Look Back Rule In Softball

Softball look back rule comes into effect when the pitcher has possession around the pitcher's mound during the live play when the batter gets a hit.

The pitcher should be inside the 8-foot radius around the mound. It was developed to avoid the players from roaming around the bases while the possession is in the pitcher's hand in the circle.

Let there be three pitchers, A, B, and C. The rule comes into effect when pitcher A has the ball control, B is available on the pitcher's mound, and C is not having a defensive play.

In this case, runners are out if they neither advance to another base nor retreat to their previous base. Therefore the runners should be alert when the pitcher has the ball possession.

The violation of the rule leads to the declaration of the ball as dead. Runners' regulations are the most needed in the look-back rule.

Run Rule In Softball 

Run rule in high school softball is declared by the umpires if one team is led by eight or more runs after five or more innings.

College softball features loads of home runs, and it is normal to see tons of runs being scored in a game. 

The shortest a game could end up is four and a half innings. The innings should be played entirely unless the home team secures the eight-run lead while batting. 

The home team gets the chance to bat in the bottom innings of the game if the opposing team reaches the eight-run limit in the fifth innings.

For the postseason, NCAA has maintained the same rules as in the NCAA tournament and WCWS. However, in the WCWS finals, the divisional committee can remove the rule in the series finals, but it should be decided before the tournament begins.

In 2021, the Oklahoma Sooners team had a 56-4 record by the end of the season. Of those 56 wins, the Sooners won 38 games due to the run rule coming into effect in the play.

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