Rules, Regulations, Responsibilities, and Courtesies

The main goal of this league is to give women a chance to enjoy women's softball. It should be something to look forward to each summer as fun. It is a summer commitment, but it should always be a safe and enjoyable commitment.
It is very important that all rules and responsibilities of this league be transferred from the team rep to each team member!

The League follows ASA rules, except for the following league-specific rules:

  1. Alcohol
    Alcohol consumption is not allowed on any Northampton City field. Drinking alcohol is not permitted during games. If a Team Rep has a concern about alcohol on the field, she should speak with the Umpire who will address it with the drinking party or team.
  2. Attitude
    Watch your attitude. Softball is not a contact sport! Don't heckle the other team ("She can't hit," etc.). Sometimes teasing your friends can make them nervous while they are at bat. Be encouraging.
  3. Avoiding Collisions
    It is the responsibility of both the base runner and the base player to avoid collisions. When there is a close play at a base, base players cannot straddle or block the base, even if they have the ball. They must stand to the side of the base or behind the base as they wait for the ball and swing their glove in front of the base to make the tag.

    When the ball beats the runner to the base and the runner has enough time to avoid a collision, the fielder can stand in the base path in order to make a tag. The base runner cannot create a collision with a base player.

    Be careful about sliding. If you are not sure how to do it properly, then don't try it. In the past it has caused injury to the person sliding as well as the person on the base.
  4. Bat Allowed for Use
    ASA monitors and tests bats for safety.  If ASA approves a bat for use, it will have a stamp marking ASA approval on the bat.  Any bat that does not carry the ASA bat approval stamp is not legal for use in our league or any league that follows ASA rules.   There are 3 different stamps that an approved bat might have (click here to see the logos). It is the responsibility of each team and individual players to make sure they use an ASA approved bat.
  5. Batted Ball Hitting Batter
    -- If the batter is in the batter's box, it is a foul ball.
    -- If the batter is not in the batter's box, she is out.
  6. Blowouts
    If a team has over ten runs and the other team has none, the winning team should have gracious sensitivity toward the losing team. Don't be condescending, etc. Consider a change of strategy: change players around, don't steal, etc.
  7. Calling for the Ball
    The habit of calling for the ball is important for each player to know and put into practice. Players not calling for the ball have caused many unnecessary injuries in previous years.
  8. Cancellations
    In the event of inclement weather, umpires and players should call 413-587-1044 to learn if the Northampton Rec Department has canceled the game. If the city cancels the game on the phone line, there is no game and the umpire does not have to come to the field. In the event of a team cancelling a game, it is the responsibility of the home team to notify the umpire of the cancellation. If the umpire is not notified of a cancellation and shows up to umpire the game, the home team shall pay the umpire the full umpire fee in a timely manner.
    If the umpire arrives for a game that is forfeited due to one team not having enough players, the forfeiting team shall pay the umpire the full umpire fee in a timely manner.
    All teams should try to make games happen before cancelling.  If you have advance notice of a cancellation (e.g., in advance of game day), let the other team know first before cancelling the umpire or the game because the other team may have extra players showing up.  All teams are encouraged to share players in order to make the games happen.  If you can share players and still play, the home team pays the ump.  

  9. Disputing a Call with an Umpire
    -- Any player can ask questions of an umpire about a call in a respectful manner.
    -- Players who are disrespectful to umpires will be given a warning or asked to leave the game (at the umpire's discretion).
    -- Umpires make the best calls they can from their vantage point.
    -- Judgment calls by an umpire cannot be changed or argued.
    -- If multiple people have input on a disputed play, they need to designate one person to address the umpire in a respectful manner (can be team rep, but doesn't have to be).
  10. Dogs
    Dogs are allowed on reasonably short leashes on the Sheldon, Jackson Street, Leeds, and Ryan Road School fields. If you bring them to other fields, make sure they are in control and on a leash.
  11. Dropped 3rd Strike
    If the catcher fails to catch the 3rd strike before it hits the ground, the batter is not out and can run to 1st base when:
    --There are less than two outs and first base is unoccupied
    --There are two outs and first base is either occupied or unoccupied.
    If the batter makes a move to return to the team bench area, the batter concedes the out and cannot then decide to run to first base.
  12. Equipment
    All players must wear shoes and use a glove. Catchers must wear a mask. Clothes must be worn on playing fields at all times.
  13. Fast-Pitch Rules
    The league abides by fast-pitch rules but with a modified fast-pitch. (Modified means no windmill deliveries, and if using a "slingshot," the backswing hand may not go higher than the shoulder.) Each team should play with ten players (a minimum of nine unless discussed with the other team).
  14. Field Use
    -- All teams are responsible for cleaning up their area after each game or practice, especially if using the Northampton fields. Please clean up cans, papers, etc. If possible, use a butt can for cigarettes. Clean up after your dog.
    -- Use the correct field in Northampton. (Sheldon 2 = near plowed field; Sheldon 3 = airport end of road)
    -- If your game is canceled for reasons other than rain and you have a field reserved at Sheldon, call the Rec Dept. (587-1040). Letting them know that a reservation for a field has been canceled is very important.
  15. Game Balls
    The home team is responsible for providing a new, unused ball at the start of the game. Red Dot balls should be used.
  16. Game Time is 6:15 p.m.
    Players and umpires should arrive at the field by 6:00 p.m. and be warmed up and ready to begin by 6:15. The umpire has the option at the beginning of the game to limit it to five innings if the game begins after 6:30 p.m.
  17. Gender
    The Mary V League is an inclusive women's league. Those eligible to participate include:
    (a) Those individuals who sincerely and consistently identify as female, regardless of their sex assigned at birth; AND (b) Those individuals who were assigned a female sex at birth, regardless of their present gender identity, so long as they feel that membership in women's community is meaningful and appropriate for them.

    Players will determine for themselves whether they are qualified for membership under either (a) or (b). Players' self-determination will not be second-guessed. Teams remain empowered to determine their own membership, within these outer limits.
  18. Hit by Thrown Ball
    If a runner is hit by a thrown ball and is unable to proceed, the ball is dead and the runner shall be granted the base she was going to. If a runner is hit by a thrown ball and is able to proceed, the ball is live and play continues.
  19. Home Team
    The home team is responsible for setting up the bases, supplying a new game ball and paying the umpire.
  20. Infield Fly Rule
    Infield fly rules will be enforced. Be sure that all players understand this rule. The rule prevents infielders from purposely dropping a fly-ball ball and then completing a double play. If the umpire calls the infield fly rule, the batter is out. The ball is not dead, so runners can advance.

    The conditions for the rule are:
    -- Less than two outs
    -- Runners on first and second or bases loaded
    -- An easily catchable pop fly hit to the infield
  21. Interference Also see Obstruction.
  22. Make-up Games
    If you schedule a make-up game with another team, follow up on it.
  23. Number of Players
    If your team is short a player or two, try to call the other team before the game to see if they are willing to play with fewer than nine players.
  24. Obstruction and Interference
    -- If a fielder has the ball or is "in the act of fielding" a batted ball, she has the right of way to the base path. In any case where a fielder does not have the ball or is not in the act of fielding a batter ball, the runner has the right of way to the base path.
    -- For both interference and obstruction, contact is not necessary for the umpire to make the call. If the obstructing fielder forces a runner to take an indirect path, it is obstruction. If a runner gets in the way of a fielder (even without contact), it is interference.
    -- It is the obligation of the base runner to not get in the way of fielders fielding a ball. It is the obligation of fielders who are not fielding a ball or do not have the ball to be out of the way of runners.
    -- In close plays at bases, if the fielder has the ball, it is the runner's obligation to avoid a collision, either by sliding or by conceding the out. If the runner causes a collision, she is out.
  25. Overrunning 1st Base
    -- Runners running from home to 1st base can overrun first base and can safely turn either to the left or right and return to the base.
    -- If a player overruns 1st base and makes a move to run toward 2nd base or fakes a move toward 2nd base, she can be tagged out.
  26. Paying the Umpire
    The home team should pay the umpire before the game begins.
  27. Pinch Runner
    A pinch runner can be used only in case of injury to players. This rule should be enforced, and we should be able to use good judgment and good sports ethics on this and not abuse the privilege.
    -- If your team has more than 10 players present, the pinch runner should be a player who is not currently in the lineup.
    -- If your team has 10 or fewer players, the team should make every effort to have the person who made the last out be the pinch runner. If that person is not available, it should be the person who made the second to last out, etc.
    -- The league expects that all teams will make good faith efforts to abide by the spirit of this rule.
    -- The umpire will draw a line in the dirt where the runner should stand (to the right of the plate at a safe distance of four or five feet). If the runner goes beyond this line before the ball is hit, the umpire can call the runner out.
    -- When there is a pinch runner, base runners cannot steal, batter cannot bunt, and the dropped 3rd strike rule does not apply. Base runners can still lead off.
  28. Pitching
    See 1985 ASA rule. If there are any questions, the pitching rule should be discussed with the other team before the game begins. Pitchers may not pitch from in front of the designated pitching plate under any circumstances. If field conditions make it impossible to use the designated pitching plate, the umpire shall convene the team reps to decide how to proceed (ie, have the pitchers stand to the side of or behind the pitching plate)

    If the pitch is too fast, the team rep or an individual player should speak to the umpire about it; she will then ask the other team to slow the pitch down. Be reasonable. The umpire can call a "no pitch" if the pitcher still throws too fast.
  29. Safety
    All players should play with safety foremost in their minds. If you are not sure if you can make a play safely, don't make it. Umpires can expel players from the game for unsafe plays (sliding with cleats up, unsafe throws, creating collisions, etc). Thrown balls that the runners cannot see are particularly dangerous. Please use good judgment around safety in whether you throw and how hard you throw.
  30. Scorekeepers
    Scorekeepers deserve respect, too. Beginnings of games are sometimes hectic, but we should not be rude to the scorekeepers (or to anyone else).
  31. Sheldon #3 Rules
    -- If hit ball bounces at least once and then goes into the cornfield in right field, it is a ground rule double.
    -- If a hit ball goes into the cornfield on the fly, it is a ground rule triple.
    -- A ball that goes beyond the small fence in left field (by the parking lot), either in the air, on a bounce, or by rolling, is an automatic home run.
    -- A hit ball that touches any branch along the left field foul line is a foul ball. If a fielder catches it on the fly, the batter is out.
  32. Smoking
    The will be no smoking on the field or on the sidelines.  If teams or individual players have a concern about smoking by players, fans or others, they should bring it to the attention of the umpire and the umpire will approach the team rep regarding having the smoker move away from the field of play. 
  33. Spectators and Fans
    Spectators are welcome, but they should not interfere with the game.

Umpire Information:

Umpires should see themselves as facilitators of the game and will do as much as they can to promote a fair, safe, and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Umpires will take the responsibility of trying to prevent accident and injury by informing players of their "improper" position play. Understanding that the umpire has a lot to watch for, this is an issue a team rep can ask an umpire to watch for if it is not being addressed. The umpire will see her role as educating players around rules and safety whenever possible.

Umpires will be taking an active role in maintaining the tone and spirit of the game. They will be interrupting abusive behavior and language. Umpires will expect players and teams to help take responsibility for keeping the tone and spirit of the game positive and enjoyable. Umpires should enforce the 1987 rule (see below) of giving a warning to a team for abusive acts and calling a forfeit if the acts continue.

Umpires should call the reps together if one team is beating the other to an extreme. The reps of both teams can decide if they want to continue.

Umpires will be using discretion on some rules. Example: Third base coach touches base runner. The umpire may issue a warning. It will be a judgment call in regards to whether that contact in any way assisted the runner in staying on the base or redirecting her momentum towards home. Players will not be penalized for hugging or congratulating each other at third base.

Umpires will expect players and teams to ask questions in a respectful manner, in regards to rules or calls that are unclear.

Umpires will expect all players and teams to understand that a judgment call is just that . . . it is a call that is based on the judgment of the umpire in relation to the players, the ball, and the position of the umpire. There is no pretense that the call would not have been made differently from any other position. Judgment calls are not challengeable.

The 1987 Rule
On March 8, 1987, the league decided to clearly define what actions an umpire should take if she is harassed to an extreme:

Any behavior that interferes with the spirit or progress of the game, including but not limited to, abusive statements, unsportswomyn-like comments or endangering behavior. These actions will elicit a warning from the umpire to the team reps. The second violation will result in a forfeit by the offending team.


Administrative Stuff
Umpires will be paid before the game. The fee is $40.
Umpire will expect teams to be prepared to start all games at 6:15pm.
Umpires will be included in league rep meetings.