EP is a 10th batter that is allowed by some organizations to get more kids involved in the game. USSSA used to allow it, and the local ASA allows it in pool play, but not in eliminations. By running the EP along with the DP/Flex, it allows the coach to get 11 girls in the game.
Understanding the ASA/NFHS
DP / Flex Rule
by Tom - Iceblue, Fast pitch Umpire, Minnesota
With DP/Flex, you have 10 starters, not 9. Both the DP and the Flex are starting players. The DP/Flex must be
indicated on the starting lineup. Once the starting lineup has been given to the umpire, these positions cannot be
Batting Order / Substitutes
As with any lineup, a substitute bats where the player she replaced was batting.
DP/Flex are joined at the hip with respect to the batting order. The only place in the batting order that either DP or
the Flex can bat is the place the DP occupied at the beginning of the game. If both players are in the game, the Flex
has number 10 in the batting order (i.e. she does not bat).
In a normal substitution, one player leaves the game and one player enters the game. However, swapping the
DP/Flex for each other is a “half substitution” – that is, only one member of the pair officially leaves the game or
officially re-enters the game.
For example, if the DP comes in on defense for the Flex, the Flex has left the game (the lineup goes from 10 to 9
players). If the Flex re-enters on defense (which she can, 1 time), the DP returns to offense only and the lineup goes
back to 10 players. This move has not affected the DP’s starter / substitution / re-entry status in any way.
Let’s take the reverse example: If the Flex comes in on offense for the DP, she is replacing the DP in the batting
order (the lineup goes from 10 to 9). In this case, the DP is removed from the game, and the substitute re-entry rules
apply to the DP. If the DP re-enters, she will re-assume her original position in the batting order, and the lineup will
go from 9 to 10, and the DP will have used up her re-entry rights. The Flex will return to playing defense only.
This move has not affected the Flex’s starter / substitution / re-entry status in any way.
Either the DP or the Flex can be substituted for in the usual ways by other players, but the substitute takes on the
position of the DP or Flex (depending on who she is substituting for).
Defensive Position Swaps Involving the DP and Flex
As with any lineup, defensive position swaps are not substitutions.
The DP starts at the defensive position of “F10” 1 - benchwarmer. This means you can swap the DP with any player
other than the Flex on defense and no one has left the game; it is not a substitution.
The player removed from defense continues to bat in her normal place in the batting order.
The Flex can be moved from her starting defensive position to any other defensive position (except for “F10” –
benchwarmer), and she remains the Flex, and it is not a substitution.
Playing Shorthanded with DP/Flex
If you start with DP/Flex, while your starting lineup was 10 players, only the offensive lineup counts for the
shorthanded rule. This means with DP/Flex you need 8 players offensively to continue the game, just as before.
The Power of the DP/Flex Rule 2
The DP/Flex is a powerful tool in the hands of a coach who understands the rule.
Suppose a team has a hot glove – a true vacuum cleaner in the infield – but she can’t hit a lick – a guaranteed out
when she comes up to bat. Suppose a team has a player who is almost guaranteed to get on base one way or another,
can steal second before the catcher can stand up, but struggles defensively. DP/Flex allows a team to turn this
situation into an advantage instead of a disadvantage. They can use 10 weapons against the opposition's nine. They
can use their 9 best fielders and bat their 9 best even if they aren’t the same nine.
Understanding the ASA/NFHS DP / Flex Rule
Most coaches understand this part of the DP/Flex rule since it is very similar to the DH rule from baseball.
However, if this is all they use the DP/Flex rule for, they are missing it’s most powerful possibilities.
Have you wanted to give your players a breather during those hot championship tournaments, but you don’t want to
burn your substitution possibilities too early in the game? The DP/Flex rule can allow you to do this.
Have you ever been late in game, and one of your players can’t go on the field, but you have used all of your
substitutes? The DP/Flex rule can allow you to continue with 9 on defense.
Here are some examples:
DP is batting for the pitcher (Flex).
1. It is a hot August day, with oppressive humidity. This is your third game of the afternoon, and your players are
dragging. In the 2nd inning, your SS is struggling. So, you send the DP out to play SS. This is not a
substitution, it is merely a defensive position swap.
The DP is now handling the defensive function of the SS and is handling the offensive function of the pitcher.
Next inning, the SS is back & ready to take the field, but the LF now needs a breather. Now, the DP is going to
play LF defensively - just like at SS the earlier inning. All this time, the DP is still the DP, the pitcher is still the
pitcher, the SS is still the SS, and the LF is still the LF. There have been no lineup additions, no substitutions,
just defensive position changes.
2. It is bottom of the 7th on a long tournament day, you are the visitors and have a 1 run lead. Your opposition is a
power hitting team, and has been giving your outfield a workout all game with long outfield fly balls. Your CF
cannot continue due to the heat. The top of their order is due up. You have used all of your substitutes.
Without the DP/Flex, you would be forced to try to hold back this team with 8 players on defense. You,
however, understand the DP /Flex rule, and you send the DP in to play CF. Just like in example 1, this is not a
substitution it is merely a defensive position swap. You can avoid having to try to finish the game shorthanded,
with a huge gap in the outfield against this power-hitting team. And, if they do tie the game, you have not
removed the center fielder from the game, so she has time to recover for her time at bat.
As you can see, the DP/Flex rule is perhaps the most powerful rule in the book for a coach who understands the
possibilities. It is much more than just a complicated version of the DH rule in baseball. It is an extremely flexible
weapon in championship games.
1 F10 is not the official designation for this position. I have called it that as a aid to thinking about defensive position swaps only.
2 Special thanks to Steve M, a 36-year veteran (as of 2004) umpire from Montour County, PA, whose internet postings on this
rule I have used as source material for this section.
Excellent read. I'm attempting to learn about using this. Let's say a player is the DP (#2 1B) for the SS (flex). During the game the #1 1B is having a terrible game. Can I sub the DP to play 1B and enter another player as the DP?
The DP cannot start the game in the field they start the game on the bench as F10. After the first pitch the DP can take the place of any of the other fielders F1-F9 (except for the FLEX) and it is not a substitution but a position swap and has no effect on the batting order.
This is a powerful rule for those of us that coach teams with small rosters once we get to the end of the season and unlimited substitution is not allowed.
I went to a state tournament with only 10 healthy players and used the DP rule to not only play everyone but be able to essentially substitute for injuries as many times in necessary. I had a game like this.
Handed in lineup with DP and flex, DP starts on the bench, first inning I can see outfielder is in distress, DP swaps positions (F10 for F7) and outfielder takes a breather and gets some food into her to settle her stomach. 3rd inning they swap back and DP is on bench next inning another fielder is hurt running the bases, swaps with DP, returns one inning later, next inning fielder is injured on a tag collision, swap with DP. Without using the DP rule I would have had no subs after the first inning. High Schools and colleges carry huge rosters, but for travel ball they tend to keep rosters at 12 which is great for playing time and unlimited substitution, but not enough for an entire season when a few kids get injured and you come to the end of the season and have to play with normal substitution rules.
You are partially correct. The DP is an offensive player, the flex is a defensive player. DP is not listed 10th on the lineup, they are listed in one of the 9 batting spots in the main lineup, the flex is listed 10th on the lineup sheet and does not bat. The flex plays defense or the DP. The DP can also play defense for any player on the field.
The flex can bat in the DP spot, but, this counts as a subtitution for the DP, but does not for the Flex. And, the DP can play defense for the Flex, although once again this would count as a sub for the flex, but not for the DP. As with all other positions on the lineup, both positions have 1 reentry and the lineup can change back and forth from 10-9 and back to 10 any number of times during a game. But, the game must be started with the DP flex listed on the lineup sheet in order to be used.
OK so in my scenario... my 1B is having a bad defensive day, but she is hitting the ball. My DP (who is hitting for the flex at SS) can play defense at 1B while maintaining her position in the batting order, as the DP. Can the original 1B stay in the batting order as well?
After jawing from the coach the original 1B is ready to play again, she goes out on defense the next inning and this would be her 1 re-entry correct? Now the RF is crying because mommy didn't buy her the nachos, I can move the DP to play RF, without having to use a sub... am I kinda on the right track?