The rules listed below are the specific ground rules for the Hong Kong Slo-Pitch Softball League. These rules are in addition to, or supersede the ISF 2002 rules, as applicable. The latest ISF rules can be found http://www.isfsoftball.org/english/rules_standards/rulebook.pdf.
OVERTHROW/DEAD BALL RULE
When the ball is in play and is thrown or knocked out of play, or is obstructed. All runners, including the batter-runner, shall be awarded two bases from the last touched base, and the award will be governed by the position of the runners when the ball left the fielder's hand or when the ball became obstructed. Runners may return to touch a base left too soon on a caught fly ball or a missed base and these will not be counted as awarded bases. If two runners are between the same bases, the award is based on the position of the lead runner.
Exceptions to this include:
1. When a fielder loses possession of the ball such as on an attempted tag, and the ball enters the dead ball area or becomes blocked, each runner is awarded one base from the last base touched at the time the ball entered the dead ball area or became blocked.
2. If a runner touches the next base and returns to his original base, the original base he left is considered the "last base touched'' for purposes of an overthrow award.
3. If the ball becomes blocked due to offensive team equipment, the ball is ruled dead and runners are returned to the last base touched at the time of the blocked ball. If the blocked ball prevented the defense from making a play, the runner being played on is called out. (If this player has scored prior to the blocked ball being ruled, the runner closest to home is called out).
REGULAR SEASON ELIGIBILITY
For a player to play in their 7th game of the season, he must have paid the league registration fees and signed all necessary forms. If the league does not have a record of a player having paid and signed before he enters his 7th game, then an automatic forfeit is declared. Games already played in which a non-eligible player has played will be recorded as a forfeit for that said team. The batting stats for each player who played in a forfeited game for the team violating the eligibility rule will be changed to 0. Adherence to this rule lies with each player and the team captains. This rule will be strictly enforced this year due to a high number of individuals who have not paid in years past. It is not necessary for the team manager to have written a player's name down as a substitute on the starting line-up in order for him to be substituted into a game in progress.
PLAYERS SWITCHING TEAMS
The deadline for an existing league player to switch to another team's roster, and be eligible for the post season, is before the first pitch of the new team’s 14th game of the season. Any player may switch teams prior to this time and, subject to all other rules, be eligible to play in the post season for his new team. The decision to switch teams rests solely with each individual player.
POST SEASON ELIGIBILITY
A player must have played in a minimum of 7 regular season games, with the team he plans to play for in the post season, in order to be eligible for post season play. A new player to the league can join a team after the team switching deadline (please see above), and as long as he plays in a minimum of 7 games he will be eligible for post season play. A player is considered to have played in a game if he has appeared either as a hitter, fielder, or substitute runner in a complete game (see below for definition of complete game), or he was at the field on the winning team in a forfeited game. In the case of rain-out and no game was deemed to have been played, but a player showed up to the field, this will count towards games played. In the case of agreed upon postponement and no game was deemed to have been played, and even if a player showed up to the field, this will not count towards games played.
KING’S PARK RULES
GROUND RULE DOUBLE
Any ball that goes through any section of the outfield fence in fair territory and becomes unplayable is a ground rule double. Any batted ball that is hit past the infield base lines then rolls out of play untouched is a ground rule double. Any ball that gets lodged behind any safety padding in fair play that has not been touched by a fielder is a ground rule double. All balls hit off the fence/wall in fair territory in the outfield are in play, unless the ball bounces over the fence in right field or gets trapped in the net or behind the safety padding, which case the hit is a ground rule double.
Any ball hit over the padded fence in left field and center field (all the way to the light pole in right center field, non-inclusive) is a home run. Any ball hitting the light pole in right center above the metal fence is a home run. Any ball hit over the metal fence and into the netting in right field between the light pole and the right field foul line is a ground rule double. Any ball hit over the netting in right field will be an automatic out, regardless of whether the ball crossed the net in or out of play.
OUT OF PLAY TERRITORY
The right field out of play line will run along the back line, and imaginary line, where there is no line, of the soccer field. The left field out of play is the padding in front of the benches and the net hanging between the light poles. The area from the base of the steps and the 1st safety pad along the third base line is considered in play. All players and their equipment must be kept behind the OB line at all times. A ball that is thrown into the out of play area is a dead ball. If a ball hits the large cement wall along the 3rd base line, it is considered a dead ball.
Any ball that is hit in the air between the right field foul line and the out of play line along the right field side of the field can be caught for an out. Any ball that is hit in the air between the left field foul line and the out of play line along the left field side of the field can be caught for an out. The net hanging between the large steel posts in left field is to be considered out of play, even if the wind blows the net to a position that may be inside, over, or even in fair territory. Any batted ball that hits this net will be called a foul ball. The dead ball rule will apply to any ball that is thrown and hits the net or travels beyond the out of play line. Any ball that is overthrown into these areas is in play, with the exception of any ball that goes into the out of play area in which case refer to the 'Dead Ball' rule.
A pitch must reach a minimum height of 6 feet above the ground and no higher than 12 feet. If a pitch is less than 6 feet, the umpire shall immediately call "FLAT", the batter then has the option to attempt to hit the ball or not. If a pitch is more than 12 feet, the umpire shall immediately call “HIGH”, the batter then has the option to attempt to hit the ball or not. If the batter does not attempt to swing at the declared 'flat' or ‘high’ pitch then a ball is recorded. However, if the batter does swing at the 'flat' or ‘high’ pitch then the ball is in play and the 'flat' or ‘high’ call is no longer in effect, regardless of the outcome of the swing.
A base runner shall not leave the base they occupy before contact is made by the batter. In the case where the runner is deemed to have left the bag before contact is made by the batter, the play will be immediately called dead, the runner out, and the pitch will not count. In the case where the runner leaves the bag and no contact is made by the batter, the runner will be called out and the pitch result shall stand.
(In the event of inclement weather or time expiry at King’s Park)
In the event of a rainout/timeout, a minimum of the top of the 5th inning (if the home team is in the lead), or 5 complete innings (if the visiting team is in the lead) must have been completed in order for the results of the game to be counted in the regular season. If this has not been achieved the game will be rescheduled and will start over from the 1st inning.
EXTRA INNINGS/TIME LIMITS
During the regular season, in the case of seven innings being completed with the score tied Extra innings shall be played until a winner is determined. During both the regular season and playoffs, any extra inning commencing after 60 minutes of play as tracked by the official scorekeeper will begin with the batter that made the last out of the previous inning on second base. The only exceptions are the Plate and Cup Championship games, which have no time limits or modified extra innings rules.
The prescribed start time of a double header shall be calculated as following: the later of either 5 minutes from the conclusion of the preceding double header OR 5 minutes after the originally scheduled start time for the double header.
The official scorekeeper shall give warnings at 5 minutes and 1 minute before the prescribed start time. If either team is not ready to begin at the prescribed start time, the umpires shall begin awarding outs to the offending team on the basis of one out per minute of delay. The outs shall be awarded in the order of the officially submitted lineup. If the home team is the offending team, the outs penalty outs shall be administered in the bottom half of the inning.
No new inning may begin later than one hour and forty five minutes (1h45m) after the originally scheduled start time; no pitch may be thrown later than two hours (2h) after the originally scheduled start time. This may result in games ending in ties.
WEATHER DELAYS AND POSTPONEMENTS
If there is an Amber, Red, or Black Rain Signal, Strong Monsoon Signal, Tsunami Warning, or T3, T8, T9, T10 Tropical Cyclone Warning, the current game will be delayed until the severe weather warning is lifted or until the game time limit has expired. If the Very Hot Weather Warning is in effect, the game will be delayed unless both teams and umpires agree to continue. Games will not be postponed for the Thunderstorm Warning (any delays will be enforced through the lightning warning below). If the game has completed the required 4 ½ or 5 innings, or both teams agree to call the game complete, then it will be recorded as an official game. If the game has not completed the required number of innings, it will be postponed to a makeup day. Games will be postponed 60 minutes prior to the start time if any of the above weather warnings are raised. If a game is postponed, it will be rescheduled for a makeup weekend. Once the severe weather warning signal has been taken down, the balance of the games for the day will be played accordingly. The current interrupted game will resume provided the restart time is less than 75 minutes after the game start time.
Lightening – games will be halted, delayed, or postponed if lightning bolts are visible in the sky using the same cancellation and postponement arrangement as severe weather above. Games may continue if there lighting flashes but no bolts are visible.
The umpires, scorekeeper, and a minimum of one league executive committee member will jointly make any decision regarding weather delays and or postponements. If an executive committee member is not available the judgment is left entirely to the umpires and scorekeeper.
If a team is leading by 15 runs or more after the top of the 5th or 5 complete innings (depending on whether or not the leading team is home or away) then the mercy rule shall apply and the game shall end. If a team is leading by 10 runs or more after the top of the 6th or 6 complete innings (depending on whether or not the leading team is home or away) then the mercy rule shall apply and the game shall end. This rule is only enforced during the regular season, not the post-season.
A pitched ball is determined to be a strike if it lands on any part of either home plate or the rubber mat placed behind home plate.
SAFETY BASE AT 1ST BASE
The fielder must be touching the white base and catch the ball before the base runner touches the orange base, then the base runner will be called out. The fielder shall only be allowed to touch the white base and the base runner shall only be allowed to touch the orange base. The base runner and fielder shall make every effort to avoid a collision. The fielder must touch the white base, in order to record the out, whereas the base runner must attempt to touch the orange base, but if he is forced to the white base to avoid a collision he shall be allowed to touch the white base instead of the orange base. The umpire shall make a judgment call as to the runner's need to stray to the white base.
Sliding into first base by the runner is prohibited and will result in the runner being called out. What constitutes a slide is at the discretion of the umpire.
A batter’s foot must not have entirely left the green mat or be touching the black mat upon striking a pitched ball. If either of a batter’s feet has entirely left the green mat or are touching home plate upon striking a pitched ball, the batter is immediately called out and the play is dead.
THE COMMITMENT LINE
A commitment line shall be marked on the ground 25 feet from home plate along the 3rd base line. If the base runner steps across the commitment line he shall be committed to continuing to home plate. To record an out on the runner who crossed the commitment line, the defense needs to either tag the runner, or record a force out by touching home.
FORCE PLAY AT THE PLATE
Home plate shall be played similarly to 1st base. The fielder must be touching home plate and catch the ball before the base runner touches the “home plate area” (as defined below), and then as long as the base runner has crossed the commitment line he shall be immediately called out. The fielder shall use home plate and the base runner shall attempt to use the orange painted safety base, but may tag home plate in an effort to avoid a collision. The base runner and fielder shall make every effort to avoid a collision. Intentional lowering of the shoulder prior to impact by the runner will be an automatic out, and the base runner will be ejected and will be suspended for one game. Sliding is not permitted into home plate, but the runner's primary objective is to avoid any collisions with the catcher. If a runner slides into home plate or collides with the catcher he will be called out, unless the umpire deems the slide or collision unavoidable.
The catcher must make every reasonable effort to tag home plate to complete the force out, but may tag the runner in lieu of home plate if the base cannot be reached in time. The umpire shall deem whether the “reasonable effort” criterion was fulfilled.
HOME PLATE AREA
A "safety base" area will be painted on ground parallel to the first base foul line, extending from the front corner of home plate on the 3rd base side to the back of the green mat. The base will be one (1) foot in width and four (4) feet in length, and a player will be deemed to have touched home plate as soon as any part of the player's foot has touched this area.
BUNTING and Half Swings
Bunting and half swings are not allowed. Any attempt to bunt or half swing shall result in the batter being called out and all base runners will return to their base.
MINIMUM NUMBER OF PLAYERS
A team must start a game with a minimum of 8 players. No team can play with less than 8 players at any time. If a team has only 8 players the opposing team will be required to provide a catcher whose only task is to throw the ball back to the pitcher after each pitch. He shall not attempt to catch pop-ups, foul tips or throws to the plate and shall get out of the way to allow 1 of the 8 fielders to make any plays at the plate.
If a team has 9 players, no catcher shall be provided. If a team starts with 8 or more players and players are injured and cannot continue thus reducing their number of players to less than 8, the game shall be declared over, and either a forfeit (in which case a score of 7-0 is recorded), or if the injury occurs after 5 complete innings the opposing team may elect to keep the score that has been recorded at the end of the last complete inning. Additionally, if a team submits a lineup that includes a player who has not yet shown up to the field and if his turn to bat comes up and he has still not arrived at the field, then an out will be recorded.
EXTRA PLAYER/DESIGNATED HITTER
Up to two extra players may be used at the beginning of the game. A team shall clearly declare 11th or 12th players in the starting line-up. Only 10 can field at any given time, but the 11th or 12th players can rotate fielding positions freely (positions in the batting order must not be changed). The team must continue to use 11th or12th players throughout the game.
Any player shall, at the discretion of the Umpires, be given a warning for arguing an on-field call during a game or otherwise behaving in an unsportsmanlike manner, including the use of profanity. If a player not on the bases, at bat or playing defense comes onto the field, they will receive a warning. Arguing among teams will also not be tolerated by the Umpires and a warning will be issued to the respective team captains. After the 1st warning, the umpire will notify both the player and the team captain that a warning has been given. If the offender receives a 2nd warning, he is automatically ejected from the game, and must leave the playing area immediately. The player is also disqualified from the team’s next game. You can ask the 1st Umpire to consult with the 2nd Umpire if you need a clarification of the call. Physical contact with an umpire will result in an immediate ejection and further disciplinary action by the Executive Committee. NOTE: if you continue to argue an ejection and do not leave the playing area, you can be suspended for additional games at the discretion of the Executive Committee. This rule will be vigorously enforced this season.
Any thrown bat will result in the play being called dead and the batter out. The batter will also be ejected from the game. The umpires will use their discretion to determine when a bat is thrown, but it will be understood that if a bat leaves the batter’s hands in any matter other than being dropped straight down, the umpire will apply the thrown bat rule. If necessary, the umpires may judge that a bat has legitimately slipped from a player’s hands during the act of swinging, but if there is any doubt whatsoever on the behalf of the umpires, the thrown bat rule will apply.
Each of the starting 10 starting players (or 11th or12th in the event of an EP being used from the start of the game) can be substituted for and can re-enter into their original place in the batting order, for the player that substituted for them. The fielding position is not relevant. The player who substituted for the starting player is then out of the game. Note: the starting player and his substitute can never be in the game at the same time. After a starting player has re-entered the game he can still be substituted for by another player from the bench who has not previously been in the game. The starter is then out of the game. Only one re-entry is allowed per player in the field.
If a player gets injured while running the base paths then the team may substitute for that player if they have substitute players available. If no substitute player is available then a courtesy runner can be substituted. A team can use a courtesy runner only once per player. The courtesy runner shall be the player that made the last recorded out by the team. The injured player must return to the line-up before his next turn at bat or when his team takes the field, whichever comes first. If he cannot return to play then the team shall continue to play without that player, but subject to the minimum number of players rule.
Only wood/bamboo bats which are supplied by the league shall be used during any regular or post-season game. Metal/composite bats are strictly prohibited. Any player found using a non-certified bat in an official at bat will be suspended for one game and the team will have forfeited the said game. Subsequent violations will earn a mandatory 5 game suspension for the player as well as another forfeiture by the team.
The home plate umpire shall determine if a ball is fit for play. All balls will be HKSPSA designated, if a pitcher takes an undesignated ball out to the mound, he will be ejected.
The bases shall be 65 feet apart. The distance to the pitcher's mound shall be 50 feet (as measured from the back point of home plate (not the mat) to the front of the pitcher's rubber). The left field wall shall be set on the dashed line approximately 233 feet from home plate. (See diagram 1)
REGULAR SEASON FORMAT
The regular season format and dates shall be as per the schedule agreed prior to the start of the season. Each team shall be allowed only 1 postponement in the regular season. The request by both teams must be made to a member of the league's executive committee on or before the close of business on the Tuesday prior to the forthcoming Saturday game. The Executive Committee shall accept or reject the request on or before the close of business on Wednesday.
POST SEASON PLAYOFF FORMAT
The post season playoff format and the dates for the tournament shall be established at least 2 months prior to the start of the playoffs.
Team standings will determine the playoff seedings. In the event of a tie between two or more teams, common head to head record will be used as the tiebreaker. In the event that the tie is still not broken, the third tie breaker will be overall run differential. In the very unlikely event that there is still a tie, the fourth tie breaker will be run differential in common games. If things are still tied, we will go to a coin flip.
Players are encouraged to wear their team's uniform (i.e., shirt and cap) for each game of the regular season and post season.
NO METAL CLEATS
Metal cleats are not permitted.
Each batter shall start with a 1 ball and 1 strike count. The batter is allowed a maximum of two foul balls per at bat. A strikeout will be scored after the second foul ball.
Once the season has started, rule changes can only be made after the approval of a majority of the Executive Committee (or team captains in instances where the Executive Committee cannot vote) have agreed to the rule change.
The use of the words 'nil' to describe a 0 score, 'side' to describe a team, 'pitch' to describe the field or any other similar phraseology is strictly prohibited and shall result in the offender buying a beer for every person in the bleachers. Entrapment is permitted, so be forewarned.
All players who enjoy the privilege of watching the games from the bleachers must ensure that at no time are any beer bottles or any other objects allowed to fall or be thrown onto the field. The offender shall buy a beer for every person in the bleachers. No entrapment is allowed for this rule.