Rules of Play

1. Rules:   Current ASA/USA Slow Pitch and local park authorities’ regulations will govern all games, except when overridden by any Cherokee Senior Softball Association (CSSA) rules listed below.  Each League within CSSA can modify the CSSA rules below by submitting in writing to the Board of Directors for approval before the last Board of Directors meeting prior to the start of each season.  League specific rules are limited to the following areas:

  1. Basepath length
  2. Courtesy runner rules (including on International Tie Breaker Rule)
  3. Home run Limits
  4. Allowed Equipment (i.e. bat testing, type of ball)
  5. Roster requirements including any age limitations and number of players
  6. Pool players and substitutions allowed
  7. Alternative clock time of 60 minutes and finish the inning                              
  8. When open innings will start

2. Official Game Clock Start Time:   All games in each league of the Cherokee Senior Softball Association (CSSA) will officially start when the home plate umpire announces, “Play ball” and the game clock is started.  All games are 7 innings or 55 minutes. If 7 innings are not completed in 55 minutes the current inning will be completed, then one additional open inning shall be played.  Time limits and innings do not apply in the case of tied games which continue based on Rules of Play section 15.

3. Discussing Rules with Umpires: The team manager or designated manager is the only person to discuss rule interpretations with the umpire(s). As a courtesy, the Umpire will usually give a brief explanation of the call. In the event of a dispute, the Park Supervisor on duty, together with the Commissioner of the CSSA (or another CSSA Officer or League Director in the Commissioner’s absence), will make the final decision.

4. Forfeitures: A team must have a minimum of eight (8) roster players to start or continue a game. If the eight roster players are not present, a forfeiture will be recorded and the win given to the opposing team. If the situation arises whereby both scheduled teams do not have the required eight (8) roster players present to start the game, both teams will have a loss recorded for that game.

5. Double Bag: A double bag shall be used at first base. The runner shall use the outside bag (usually orange in color) and the infielder uses the inside bag whenever a force play is being made on the runner (except when the runner is returning to the bag after a caught fly ball out). In the case of an overthrow, the fielder may use the outside bag and the runner may use the inside bag without penalty.

6. Alternate Home Plate: An alternate home plate shall be placed eight (8) feet in foul territory, directly in line with the first base foul line, but on the third base side of the normal home plate. To prevent injuries from tag plays, all plays at home plate are force plays. The defensive player need only catch the ball while in contact with the normal home plate, or make contact with the normal home plate while in possession of the ball before the runner makes contact with the alternate home plate to record an out of that runner. If the defensive player merely tags the runner after the runner has passed the commitment line, it is not recorded as an out of that runner and the runner is deemed safe at home plate.

7. Commitment Line: A chalk line shall be drawn across the third base foul line approximately twenty (20) feet from the normal home plate. When a runner crosses this commitment line, he must continue on to the alternate home plate or be recorded as an out if he attempts to return back across the commitment line toward third base.

8. Batting Order: Except when a League rule has been duly adopted to the contrary or when Rule 9 is applicable, all team members present will bat in the batting order whether they are playing a defensive position or not. When a player is inserted into a defensive position in lieu of another teammate, the player maintains the same position in the batting order that he originally held.

9. Injury or personal reason: If a player becomes injured or personal reasons occur during the course of a game and needs to leave the game because of such injury, the injury must first be confirmed by agreement of the injured player’s manager with the opposing team’s manager. Thereafter, the following conditions will apply:

a. This rule is enforced as follows: The player will be removed from his team’s lineup and will not be allowed to return to the game.

b. This rule is requires that the manager inform the umpire, the opposing manger, and the official scorekeeper of the player’s removal from the lineup.

c. When the player’s turn at bat arrives, it will be skipped over and an “out” will not be recorded.

10. Late Players: Roster players arriving late for a game must be immediately inserted into the game and placed at the bottom of the batting order, however, they must check in with the official scorekeeper to avoid being ruled out for batting out of order. Players listed on the lineup card may be removed without penalty at any time before the first pitch by notifying the official scorekeeper and the opposing manager. If not removed before the first pitch, they will be called out at each at bat they miss.

11. Base Stealing: No stealing of bases is allowed. A runner can leave the base only when the pitched ball crosses home plate, but must return to the base if the pitched ball is not hit into play. Base stealing rules may be modified within league specific rules with the approval of the Board of Directors.

12. Sliding & Overrunning of Bases: Sliding into any base, including home plate, is permitted. A runner cannot overrun second or third base without placing himself in jeopardy of being tagged out. See the following exception.

Exception – The League Director and team managers of each league may adopt a different policy on sliding and/or overrunning of bases applicable to their respective league only. Such policy shall be written and a copy given to the Secretary for use by the BOD.

13. Courtesy Runner: A courtesy runner may be used for any base runner.

a. The base runner may request a courtesy runner or the team manager may, at his discretion, replace a base runner with a courtesy runner.

b. The player shall only be a courtesy runner once per inning.

c. A courtesy runner can be replaced by another courtesy runner in a situation where the first courtesy runner is injured.

d. A runner leaving for a courtesy runner may not himself be a courtesy runner in that inning.

e. Once a designated player or any roster player touches a base they are the courtesy runner for that player at that base.

f. Lowell Lawson league will allow a courtesy runner to run more than once per inning and can run for one designated batter from “Home Plate”. The “courtesy runner” from home plate will start at a point that is approximately 10 feet behind the home plate on a line that is straight from the pitcher’s mound through home plate (not the safety home plate). The “courtesy runner” from home plate does not have to be set before the game starts.

14. Mercy Rules:

a. Five Run Rule all leagues: When a team has scored five (5) runs in an inning, it must cease being on the offensive and take the field defensively.

b. Flip Flop Rule all leagues: If the visitors are ahead by 8 or more runs, then the Home team will bat as visitors to start the last inning.

c.  A game is finished if one team is ahead by 15 runs after five innings if the home team is behind or after four-half innings if the home team is ahead. 

15. Tie Breaker Rule: When both teams are tied when regulation time has expired, the International Tie Breaker rule will apply. That is, the last batter of the previous inning will be placed at second base at the beginning of each teams turn at bat. A courtesy runner will be allowed.

16. Protests: A team manager has the right to protest an umpire’s interpretation of the rules, provided a verbal protest is made immediately and before the next pitch. Thereafter, the protesting team manager, or his assistant, shall submit to a CSSA Officer (other than himself, if applicable) his written protest within twenty-four (24) hours.

a. On all matters outside the jurisdiction of the umpire at the field of play, a team manager has the right to protest an action taken by an opposing team’s manager that adversely and unfairly affects the competitive balance between the teams. Such a protest must be in writing, specify the action or event complained of, and the relief sought. The protest shall be submitted to a CSSA Officer (other than himself, if applicable) within twenty-four (24) hours of the complaining manager obtaining knowledge of the action or event in question.

b. Upon receipt of the written protest, the BOD will review the protest and determine the appropriate disposition of the matter. If any protest involves a team/league in which a member of the BOD is a player, that member shall be disqualified from voting on the disposition of that protest. The remaining voting members of the BOD shall constitute an appropriate quorum for the disposition of the protest. The decision of the BOD is final.

17. Player Utilizations:

a. Substitutions: Each team manager may make unlimited defensive substitutions, including the assignment to any defensive position a player who has been substituted for previously during the game. Players returning to the game do not have to return to their previous defensive position.

b. Batting Order: All players listed on the team roster that are present at the field at the start of their scheduled softball game must be placed in the continuous batting order of his team unless the player is on the injured players list. Players may be used defensively in whatever manner, if any, deemed appropriate at the discretion of the team manager. This rule does not apply to players listed on the team roster who are injured and cannot play but want to observe the game. Exception: If a League has duly adopted a different rule regarding mandatory placement in the batting order, such league rule shall apply.

c. Defensive Placement of Players: A team may position defensively its players at any place in the field of play, provided at all times it has one player as pitcher at the pitcher’s rubber and one player as catcher behind the plate. Exception: If a League has duly adopted a different rule regarding the mandatory position of catcher, such league rule shall apply.

Lowell Lawson league: Outfielders cannot play closer than the first light pole past the dug outs. Outfielders cannot throw a runner out at first base. All infielders must be positioned in fair territory, on the dirt, and not in the grass. If an eleventh player is used, the player must either play as an infielder or outfielder and follow the rules for those positions.

18. One Ball, One Strike Count: For all leagues using the One/One starting count each at bat will start with a count of one ball and one strike. The batter will walk if the count reaches 4 balls or will strike-out if it reaches 3 strikes, with the exception that the first foul ball after reaching 2 strikes will not count as strike 3. Additional fouls with 2 strikes will result in a strike out.

19. Bats: Only Amateur Softball Association (ASA) approved bats are sanctioned for use in CSSA games. In no case will ASA banned bats be allowed for use in “open” CSSA practices or in tryouts.

a. Disguised Equipment: Any player found using or attempting to use a “disguised” illegal bat will be subject to disciplinary actions including suspension from the CSSA for up to one year. Any bat that is painted, decaled, or otherwise modified to hide its true identity will be presumed to be an illegal bat.

20. Player Pool: Should the standing BOD determine that a player pool be required, the following will be applicable.

a. Eight (8) team roster players for that team must be available to start the game and eight (8) team roster players are needed to continue the game.

b. The number of pool players used cannot exceed the maximum number of players allowed for defense in their league.

c. Each league director will create a list of pool players from the lower half of the league based generally on batting average and excludes coaches and BOD members. These players may be used more than once on any team in a season. These same league pool players may only be positioned defensively at catcher or first base, or right field and bat at the end of the lineup.

d. Any team that picks up players from the player pool may pick up the number of pool players to equal the total of the number of the opposing team’s roster players present but to not exceed the number of defensive players (10 or 11) allowed by the appropriate league.

e. If legal pool players are not available or utilized, a team will play short on defense.

f. If a team roster player shows up for a team using a pool player, the team roster player will immediately replace the pool player and bat in the last position of the lineup

21. Pitching Arc: CSSA will use a pitching arc of six to twelve feet. That is a pitch must be at least 6 feet in height and be less than 12 feet in height, measured from the ground, to be ruled a legal pitch. This rule supersedes any other rule by any other organization.

22. Pitching Box: Preliminary to pitching, the pitcher shall take a position with his/her pivot foot firmly on the ground and in contact with the pitching rubber. The pivot foot must be in contact with the pitcher’s rubber when the pitched ball is released.  After assuming the pitching position on the pitcher’s plate or in the pitching area, the pitcher must present the ball in FRONT OF HIS/HER BODY (for at least one second) in either one or both hands before starting the delivery motions. Note: All pitching rules that apply to the pitcher’s actions before and during the release of the pitch along with the ASA restrictions on height, speed, etc., shall remain the same. 

23. Pitching Mat: A pitched ball of the proper arc when striking either the traditional home plate or the extended mat shall be called a strike.

24. Home Run Limit: “Over the Fence” home runs will be limited to two per game until the other team has also hit two. After each team has hit two “over the fence” home runs, they will be allowed to hit additional “over the fence” home runs on a “one up basis”. Excess “Over the Fence” home runs will be treated as a hit (single) and runners will advance as with any other hit. The batter will be given credit for a hit in the statistics.

25.  CSSA Pitching Screen Rules:

The Pitching Screen must be used at all times, including BP. 

The umpire will position the screen 35 feet in front of home plate.

The screen will be centered with respect to the mound and home plate.

A pitched ball must be thrown in an arch over the top horizontal bar of the screen and not outside the vertical support bars.

After the ball is hit, the pitcher can uncover to play the ball but cannot move the screen. If the pitcher does so, the offense has the option of taking the results of the play or the umpire will award a walk to the batter. If the pitcher, while attempting to properly field the ball deflects it into the screen, it is a live ball. 

A pitched ball into the screen will be called a ball. 

When a batted pitch hits the screen, a “dead ball-foul ball” strike will be called.  

Once the batter has hit the screen three (3) times in one at bat, he/she will be called out (a strikeout).

A thrown ball that hits the pitching screen is live until the defense has possession, forward progress has stopped and time out is granted.

Revised by BOD vote 02/15/2022