After this year’s WBSC Congress in Botswana the following softball rule changes were announced:

Major Changes:

Pitching: Points of Emphasis

1)   Upon the ball being returned to the pitcher (ball in the air on the way back to the pitcher or the catcher in a position to return the ball), the pitcher has 20 seconds to start the pitch.

2)   Prior to starting the pitch, the pitcher must place the pivot foot on the pitching plate, and with the hands apart, take a signal or appear to take a signal from the catcher.

3)   The pitcher must then maintain contact with the pitching plate with the pivot foot and must place the stepping in contact with the pitching plate or behind the pitching plate within the 61 Cm (24 in) of the pitching plate before bringing the hands together for the pause.

4)   Once the pause has begun, the pivot foot and stepping foot must remain stationary until the start of the pitch. The pause must be held for a minimum of 2 seconds and a maximum of 5 seconds. The pitcher may ask for time during the pause provided the hands remain together or the pitcher steps back off the pitching plate with the hands together.

5)   The pitch starts when the pitcher separates the hands or begins any movement that is part of the pitching motion. The pitchers feet may only move forward once the pitch starts.

6)   The pitcher may take one step with the leading, non-pivot foot simultaneously with the release of the ball. The step must be forward toward the batter and within the 61.0 cm (24 in) length of the pitcher’s plate. It is not a step if the pitcher slides either foot across the pitcher’s plate, provided contact is maintained with the plate, and there is no movement backward off the plate.

7)   The pivot foot must remain in contact with the pitcher’s plate, or push off and drag away from the pitcher’s plate or be airborne prior to the stepping (non-pivot) foot touching the ground. The pitcher may leap from the pitcher's plate, land and with a continuous motion deliver the ball to the batter. The pivot foot may follow through with the pitcher’s continuous action.

Minor Changes:

-      Appeal Plays: Rephrasing, clearer definition

-      Dugout: Adding Alcohol, Chewing tobacco, tobacco products and e-cigarettes to the list of forbidden substances in the Dugout

-      Re-Entry: Rephrasing clearer definition

-      Illegal Glove: Rephrasing, clearer definition

-      Infield Fly: Rephrasing, clearer definition

-      Interference: Adding spectators interference

-      Strike Zone: Rephrasing, clearer definition

-      Coaches Uniforms: The Coaches are no longer obligated to wear a cap

-      Replacement Player: Rephrasing, clearer definition

-      Women’s Uniforms (SP): Female players are free to choose whether they want to wear shorts or pants regardless of what the male players wear

-      Softball (Co-Ed): specification of the Ball (11 Inch, Cor. 520, Compression ≤ 300)

These changes will now appear in the reformatted Rules. All changes apply to Fast Pitch (FP), Modified Pitch (MP) and Slow Pitch (SP) unless specifically noted otherwise.

download the official announcement in English , in Spanish

-Patrik Knechtle, Bob Stanton-