From the Pitcher’s Circle – Fastpitch Softball Illegal Pitches
There are three often-violated rules in girls’ fast pitch softball that are misunderstood by many pitchers, coaches, and even some umpires, and consequently are often not enforced. All three were designed to prevent some pitchers from having an unfair advantage over other pitchers…and batters. These two definitions and rules for “leaping” and “crow hopping” are often misinterpreted, and wrongly used to define each other. What we offer here is an attempt to clarify the meaning of the three rules so they can be more uniformly understood and complied with:
1) A CROW HOP is not the pitcher’s failure to drag the push-off foot along the ground. A crow hop is, as the name implies, a forward hop or step off the pitching rubber by the pivot/push-off foot (typically moving it forward a foot or more) to “replant” it and use it for a second push-off point. It is not permitted in girls/women’s softball.
2) LEAPING can be caused by a failure to “drag” the pivot/push-off foot. Leaping, in fast pitch softball, is the act of having both feet off the ground at the same time (as shown in the photo on the right).
3) SIDE STEPPING is permissible, but as long as the stride foot lands within the “pitching lane”. Some pitchers, particularly those who are stepping-style pitchers, are often taught to not step directly forward toward home plate, but instead to step to the side to gain an advantage with the “closing” (or twisting of the trunk)process. Stepping to the side must be restricted to the width of the pitching plate.
There are many other kinds of illegal pitches depending on the sanction the pitcher is playing in…
- At anytime, if a pitcher takes her throwing hand to her face (mainly mouth to get saliva on fingers to get better grip on a dusty ball), she has to wipe off saliva/sweat before the pitch is thrown.
- Pitcher will sometimes have to “present” the ball to the umpire and batter before going into her motion.
- Pitchers are not allowed to have anything distracting on throwing hand, such as a color that matches the ball, jewelry, and even sometimes glittery headbands that can “distract the batter”.