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BR retreats from 1B by mistake, is force re-established?

Dec 15, 2018
I posted this scenario that happened in a game I did this weekend in a softball umpires FB group, but didn't really receive a satisfactory answer. Maybe some of you can weigh in:

"USA, 16u, 0 outs, no runners on base. Batter hits a towering pop up to F6, runs to first and touches the base. Assuming the ball has been caught, she proceeds to trot back towards home to retrieve her bat. Meanwhile, the ball drops and F6 throws the ball to F3. Alerted to her mistake about halfway down the line, the BR runs back to first but is tagged by F3 before she gets there for the out. My question is, had F3 simply touched first base before the BR returned, would that also be an out?

8.2.B reads she is out if being put out “prior to reaching first base.”
8.2.H doesn’t apply because her retreat was not to avoid a tag.
8.7.C retreating from a base re-establishes the force seems to apply to runners, not necessarily a BR and 1st base

So again, would F3 just need to touch the base, or was the tag necessary? Just a weird one that happened yesterday. Pretty sure out either way, tag or touch base, but wanted to be sure. Thanks."

I received lots of, "well, 8.7.C should apply", and some definitive, "it doesn't". So I am still left wondering, in the above scenario, was the tag the only way to get the out there?
May 1, 2018
interesting....no actual rule opinion but I would assume that the tag would have to be applied.


Allergic to BS
Nov 14, 2014
I think your answer lies in definitions. While running to 1B, the player is a "batter-runner". Once a player reaches 1B safely, they become a "runner". Whatever order it happened, the ball was dropped and the runner reached 1B safely, so they're now a "runner". Unless there's a force play resulting from a ball hit by a subsequent batter, a runner off the bag (regardless of direction) needs to be tagged. Yes...I know LBR is an exception to that, but we're not talking about LBR.
Aug 29, 2011
Doesn't the simple act of her retreating towards home make her out automatically? Or is there some other condition required for that to be in play?
Dec 15, 2018
Doesn't the simple act of her retreating towards home make her out automatically? Or is there some other condition required for that to be in play?
8.2.H she is out if she steps back to avoid or delay a tag by a fielder, which wasn't the case here.

Also, she hadn't entered the team area (8.2.D)
Nov 18, 2015
what would really make things interesting would be instead of heading back to 1B (after being 1/2 way back towards HP), head straight to 2B (bypassing 1B, which she already touched). As I understand it, the basepath isn't established until there's an attempted play on the runner, so the ensuing basepath would be a line b/w the runner's current position and the base she's going to.


Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
Dallas, Texas
Under the NCAA rules, she is out.

12.11.4 After reaching a base safely, the runner abandons her base (for example, obviously heads toward her position or the dugout believing she was put out, the batted ball was foul, etc.), or leaves the field of play for any reason.
EFFECT—The ball is live. The batter-runner or base runner(s) is out. Each other runner may advance with liability to be put out.
Last edited:
Jun 22, 2008
Most of the rules in the various rulesets say the force is reinstated if the runner retreats for any reason back toward the base they last occupied. Home plate cannot be occupied so there is no last base the batter/runner ever occupied. By strict wording of the rule I would have to say no, this does not apply to a batter/runner. Until the sanctioning bodies see fit to create a case play on this the strict wording of the rule says no.

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