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Still Lost on the infield fly rule

May 29, 2015
1,989
113
Wow ... I cannot believe the amount of WRONG in this thread. From the actual play to the opinions afterwards.

The potential for an infield fly is determined by the situation, not the umpire. The umpire's failure to call it does not negate it.

I do not understand why this rule is difficult -- for umpires, for coaches, for players, for fans.

1.) Are there less than two outs? (That means ONE out or NO outs.) YES ... proceed to question 2. NO ... no infield fly.
2.) Are there runners on first and second base? (A runner may also be on third, but doesn't matter.) YES ... potential for an infield fly rule application exists -- PAUSE HERE AND INFORM YOUR PLAYERS -- now go on to question 3. NO ... no infield fly.
3.) The ball is in the air ... Can AN INFIELDER catch it with normal effort? Not DID they, not WILL they ... COULD they. Normal effort is something that will change based on conditions: age/talent level, winds and weather, the starting location of the infielder, etc.

Done. Easy. The only place any coach has room to complain is on the application of the umpire's judgment as to whether the ball was catchable or not. Nothing else is discretionary, so there is no reason to discuss.


Yeah once had an ump make the hand signal and I as coach saw it and knew it was on. But the fielders and runners were watching the ball and had no clue the IFR was on. Ball dropped and all hell broke loose on the base paths.

In between innings I discussed it with him and when I explained that most players are watching the ball and don't see his hand signal for IFR he agreed that in the future he'd call it out as well as make the hand signal. Some umps can be very reasonable if you approach them right.
Precisely why it is defined by the situation, not the umpire's actions, and you should be teaching your players and coaches that. It's tough to make the argument that nobody is paying attention to you, but it's your fault.
 
Sep 13, 2020
34
18
And yet the normal effort component of the rule means that it relies on the umpire's judgement of what normal effort is ... particularly if it can depend on level, weather, etc. How can a team know the rule is in effect unless the umpire calls it out?
 
Nov 30, 2018
276
43
Marikina, Philippines
What the umpire is supposed to be doing is notifying the runners that they are NOT in jeopardy if they stay on the base. That is the primary function of "calling" out the play. If that is not done, then there is confusion. It was instituted to prevent setting up double and triple plays by letting the ball drop. Of course the double-play can still be accomplished if there is a runner only on 1B.

The only reason to make a play on the ball at all is to prevent any runner on 2B or 3B from running which would create a "tag-play".

Just saw, "The Man In Blue's" post. If there is no call, there is no special situation. If nothing is called, then nothing alters the game. HOWEVER, the umpires should not be going back and saying, "well I should have . ." A no call is a no call.
 
Dec 15, 2018
238
43
CT
A no call is a no call.
In NCAA, correct.

In other rulesets, the umpires may retro a infield fly call before the next pitch. I would probably only do this if my failure to vocalize it resulted in the offence being penalized with exactly what it was meant to prevent, a double play.

Thankfully, I've not yet had to do that.

And, just from my limited experience, it's not always the easiest call. Towering pop-ups to the infield, while common in baseball, don't seem to happen all that much in softball. You can have a lot less time to find the ball, find the fielder, determine routine, make the call. There are a TON of those flubby soft pops in the bermuda triangle behind the pitcher...that's the toughest.
 
Nov 30, 2018
276
43
Marikina, Philippines
In NCAA, correct.

In other rulesets, the umpires may retro a infield fly call before the next pitch. I would probably only do this if my failure to vocalize it resulted in the offence being penalized with exactly what it was meant to prevent, a double play.

Thankfully, I've not yet had to do that.

And, just from my limited experience, it's not always the easiest call. Towering pop-ups to the infield, while common in baseball, don't seem to happen all that much in softball. You can have a lot less time to find the ball, find the fielder, determine routine, make the call. There are a TON of those flubby soft pops in the bermuda triangle behind the pitcher...that's the toughest.
I agree with you that that might be possible. I have never seen it, but a very good point.
 
Mar 28, 2014
721
93
3.) The ball is in the air ... Can AN INFIELDER catch it with normal effort? Not DID they, not WILL they ... COULD they. Normal effort is something that will change based on conditions: age/talent level, winds and weather, the starting location of the infielder, etc.
Wow...... The bolded completely a judgement call. And there are adults that expect a kid in 12u to be able to make a snap judgement on something as ambiguous as whether or not a player can catch something with "normal effort"? This has got to be a joke right? We're wanting kids to make judgements that line up with adults? Someone tell me I'm awake because I have to be dreaming that an adult expects a kid to make a judgement call that perfectly lines up with adults every time. Heck you can't even get kids and adults to line up on where to eat lunch, now we're expecting them to line up with adults on judging another player's normal effort?
 
Last edited:

Strike2

Allergic to BS
Nov 14, 2014
998
63
I've never seen an umpire not verbally call an infield fly situation. I have seen infield flies called that were well into the OF and not within any infielders "routine" reach. The third out in this situation was completely bogus. There's no requirement to "retouch" a base when a ball is dropped.
 
Nov 18, 2015
948
63
USSSA Rules - RULE 8. BASE RUNNING - Sec 17 H (page 50)

"When they hit a fair fly and the infield fly rule is declared. EFFECT - The ball is live, the batter is out if the batted ball is fair. If the ball is caught, each runner may tag up and advance with the liability to be put out once the batted ball is touched the same as on any caught fly ball. If a declared infield fly is not caught, the ball is live, the batter-runner is out which removes all force plays, and each runner may advance with liability to be put out without needing to retouch their base(s). NOTE: When an infield fly is not initially called, the batter-runner may be declared out if brought to the umpire’s attention before the next pitch. See exception in Rule 15-8-17-H (8U and Younger Fastpitch Divisions)."

USSSA Rules - RULE 14. UMPIRES - Sec 12 H (page 63)

"When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an infield fly, the Plate Umpire immediately announces it for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the base line the Umpire shall declare, “Infield fly, if fair.”"
The above ruleset is what we play 95% of the time. It says "declared". That sounds like its intended to be a verbal announcement by the umpire. Otherwise, wouldn't the rule just state something like "an infield fly occurs whenever a fair fly is hit..."?

Also see the "NOTE" - "When an IF is not initially called" - initially usually means first, or at the start of, and again, "called" is implying a verbal announcement.

Should the coaches be aware of the situation? Yes. (If you have enough coaches, have one pay attention to the umpires (if you get a 2-man crew) - they will often signal to each other between pitches.).

Should a 12C baserunner, base coach, and umpire all be expected to reach the same conclusion as to whether a fly ball near the IF is considered "routine"? No.

In the interest of fairness, and as I read the above rule, IF needs to be declared at the time of the play.
 
Aug 29, 2011
2,472
63
NorCal
The umpire's failure to call it does not negate it.
But it's a judgement call by the umpire that is not uniformly applied by all umpires.
One umpire's "normal effort" isn't the same for every umpire.
One umpire's looping liner is not sufficient for IFR but another umpire might say IFR on.
So is too much to ask the umpire to strain his vocal cords once ever 4 games to make a call that can be heard by runners and fielders alike?
 
Jun 11, 2013
2,201
83
Just to add one more thing to this for your knowledge. Even if IFF is called the runners do not have to tag (or retouch) the base unless the ball is actually caught.
Wow ... I cannot believe the amount of WRONG in this thread. From the actual play to the opinions afterwards.

The potential for an infield fly is determined by the situation, not the umpire. The umpire's failure to call it does not negate it.

I do not understand why this rule is difficult -- for umpires, for coaches, for players, for fans.

1.) Are there less than two outs? (That means ONE out or NO outs.) YES ... proceed to question 2. NO ... no infield fly.
2.) Are there runners on first and second base? (A runner may also be on third, but doesn't matter.) YES ... potential for an infield fly rule application exists -- PAUSE HERE AND INFORM YOUR PLAYERS -- now go on to question 3. NO ... no infield fly.
3.) The ball is in the air ... Can AN INFIELDER catch it with normal effort? Not DID they, not WILL they ... COULD they. Normal effort is something that will change based on conditions: age/talent level, winds and weather, the starting location of the infielder, etc.

Done. Easy. The only place any coach has room to complain is on the application of the umpire's judgment as to whether the ball was catchable or not. Nothing else is discretionary, so there is no reason to discuss.




Precisely why it is defined by the situation, not the umpire's actions, and you should be teaching your players and coaches that. It's tough to make the argument that nobody is paying attention to you, but it's your fault.
1 and 2 are easy, but 3 is subject to judgement and that's why we have umpires. It's the umps decision if it's normal effort to catch it, not the kid son 2nd base. The ump needs to call it out so they know. Now if it's just a simple popup to the SS it's one thing but for a lot of plays it's very subjective and that's why the umpire needs to call it out to protect the offense.
 

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