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Crash rule with ball/without ball

Feb 25, 2018
146
28
Two scenarios:

1. Play at the plate, catcher is obstructing, umpire has their arm out for obstruction, catcher has the ball, runner crashes into the catcher.

2. Play at the plate, catcher is obstructing, umpire has their arm out for obstruction, catcher doesn't have the ball, runner crashes into the catcher.

I've looked at both the NFHS and USA rulebooks, scenario #1 is spelled out, crash penalty cancels obstruction, but I haven't seen scenario #2 spelled out.
What's the call for a crash into a defender without possession of the ball?
 
Oct 2, 2011
3,531
113
Florida
If the runner intentionally crashes into the catcher or any other defender in any circumstances they are out and will be ejected. The relevant rule doesn't mention ball or possession of the ball or anything similar. It is irrelevant.

The end.

NFHS 8.6.14
A runner is out when:
ART. 14 . . . She remains on her feet and maliciously crashes into a defensive player. Malicious contact supersedes obstruction.

PENALTY: (Arts. 10 through 14) The ball is dead and the runner is out. Each other runner must return to the last base touched at the time of the interference. When a runner is called out for interference, the batter-runner is awarded first base and credited with a fielder's choice. If this interference, in the judgment of the umpire, is an obvious attempt to prevent a double play and occurs before the runner is put out, the immediate succeeding runner shall also be called out. If interference occurs by the runner on a foul fly ball, the runner is out and the ball is dead. A foul ball is called in this situation and the batter remains at bat unless it was a bunt attempt with two strikes on the batter (F.P.) or it was the third strike (S.P.); the batter is also out in these cases. (Art. 14) The runner is also ejected.

NFHS 3.6.18
ART. 18 . . . Initiating malicious contact is prohibited.
PENALTY: (Arts. 18, 19) Considered serious offenses, the offender shall be ejected. (Art. 18) If by the offense, the play is dead immediately, the offender is declared out unless she has already been put out or scored and all runners return to the last base touched at the time of the malicious contact (8-6-14). If by the defense, the offender is ejected at the end of playing action.
 
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Feb 25, 2018
146
28
Thanks, that's my thinking, too.

USA rule book talks about crashing into a fielder holding the ball . . . Nothing about crashing into a player not holding the ball.
A defender waiting for the ball, even if they are obstructing, is in a very vulnerable position.
 
May 29, 2015
1,578
113
ANY and ALL baserunners are obligated to avoid collisions regardless of whether the fielder has the ball or not. The obstruction call, especially if being made at the correct moment, negates ANY excuse a runner has for making contact.

"She was in my way." is not justifiable.

The possession of the ball clause relates to calling the runner out. It does not excuse contact in any circumstance.

Sometimes things happen when players are not paying attention (e.g., runner rounds second base and SS is standing in the way watching the outfield), so I've probably got nothing but run-of-the-mill obstruction.

However, if the runner makes any deliberate motion to "clear her path" (my terminology, not in any book) as opposed to reacting, we are probably looking at some invitations to the bench. If I hear a coach direct a player to do this, we are looking at a one-man parking lot party.

At the plate, I can say I am even more meticulous because that runner coming in has NO excuse not to avoid contact. It isn't like other bases where the runner may be rounding and moving on. Slide, side step, go all the around, just stop ... whatever you need to do to avoid contact, you NEED to do it. If obstruction is already in play, you have no excuse.
 
Jan 8, 2019
296
43
ANY and ALL baserunners are obligated to avoid collisions regardless of whether the fielder has the ball or not. The obstruction call, especially if being made at the correct moment, negates ANY excuse a runner has for making contact.

"She was in my way." is not justifiable.

The possession of the ball clause relates to calling the runner out. It does not excuse contact in any circumstance.

Sometimes things happen when players are not paying attention (e.g., runner rounds second base and SS is standing in the way watching the outfield), so I've probably got nothing but run-of-the-mill obstruction.

However, if the runner makes any deliberate motion to "clear her path" (my terminology, not in any book) as opposed to reacting, we are probably looking at some invitations to the bench. If I hear a coach direct a player to do this, we are looking at a one-man parking lot party.

At the plate, I can say I am even more meticulous because that runner coming in has NO excuse not to avoid contact. It isn't like other bases where the runner may be rounding and moving on. Slide, side step, go all the around, just stop ... whatever you need to do to avoid contact, you NEED to do it. If obstruction is already in play, you have no excuse.
Just curious TMIB, if there was a close play, runner out, all clean. Player walks off the field and you overhear coach say something like "Next time, take her out." Are you ejecting at that point, as well, or only in the moment of the play? (And btw, this type of direction is neither coaching nor acceptable.) (Coaching fix for later is how to get a better jump on the ball, how to take the turns tighter, speed drills, situational awareness, directional slides, etc.)
 

2br02b

Trabant swing
Jul 25, 2017
249
28
This is the type of situation where the umpire's skill can really be tested. Unfortunately, the result of bad calls on plays like this is more contact, not less.
 
Jun 22, 2008
3,386
63
USA rules have no provision for calling an out for running over a fielder that does not have the ball. Yes, they can be ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, but there is no provisions to call an out.
 
May 29, 2015
1,578
113
Just curious TMIB, if there was a close play, runner out, all clean. Player walks off the field and you overhear coach say something like "Next time, take her out." Are you ejecting at that point, as well, or only in the moment of the play? (And btw, this type of direction is neither coaching nor acceptable.) (Coaching fix for later is how to get a better jump on the ball, how to take the turns tighter, speed drills, situational awareness, directional slides, etc.)
As soon as we had a dead ball, I have given the coach (and a few parents) a warning many times in that exact situation.

"Coach, if we need to discuss obstruction and interference rules, we can. But we aren't doing that. If I hear it again you will have taken yourself out of the game. If it happens on the field, you and the player will have taken yourselves out of the game."

Fortunately, I have never had to go that next step. Calling a coach out publicly usually puts a stop to it real quick.
 
Oct 2, 2011
3,531
113
Florida
Just curious TMIB, if there was a close play, runner out, all clean. Player walks off the field and you overhear coach say something like "Next time, take her out." Are you ejecting at that point, as well, or only in the moment of the play? (And btw, this type of direction is neither coaching nor acceptable.) (Coaching fix for later is how to get a better jump on the ball, how to take the turns tighter, speed drills, situational awareness, directional slides, etc.)
No ejection unless he is making a public spectacle of himself that crosses the line. If I just overhear him saying things like this I am simply taking the coach aside and letting him know what the rules states and that if it does happen later in the game, they will be gone as well as the player. Same with the ones how have their players throw elbows or look to make contact with a fielder to try and draw obstruction calls.

And know that I will remember that coach for future games. And that word gets around quick in softball - every area I have even been for is a relatively small and very gossipy community..
 
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Aug 25, 2019
175
43
USA rules have no provision for calling an out for running over a fielder that does not have the ball. Yes, they can be ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, but there is no provisions to call an out.
I thought about this too. If the runner knocks over the catcher without the ball, or with the ball and dislodges ball, isn't she called "safe" (if she touches home, of course) then ejected from game?
 
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