Softball Rules

NFHS Softball rules shall apply to all games, except any of the following adaptations. 

Players and Substitutes

  1. 8 players minimum to start a game.
    1. A maximum of 10 players can play the field (P, C, 4 infielders, 4 outfielders)
    2. A maximum of 10 players can be in the batting order.
  2. Teams will set the batting order prior to the game. This will be the official order once the game begins.
  3. For teams with substitutes, all players have an unlimited number of re-entries.
  4. A player can only ever occupy one spot in the batting order.
  5. If a player leaves the batting order for any reason and a team has no substitutes, an out will be taken the next time the vacant spot’s place comes up in the order.
  6. Co-rec
    1. Teams must have three of each gender on the field and in the lineup at all times.
    2. There are NO other co-rec modifications for softball

The Game

  1. The game shall consist of 7 innings or a 50 minute time limit, whichever comes first.
    1. After the time limit, no new inning will begin.
      1. If, when the 50 minute time limit is called, the visiting team is batting and
        1. Ahead – they complete their turn at bat and the home team has their turn at-bat
        2. Losing – they complete their turn at bat and if they don’t tie or go ahead, the game ends
      2. If, when the 50 minute time limit is called, the home team is batting and
        1. Ahead – the game is over
        2. Losing – they complete their turn at bat.
  2. Games during the regular season will end in ties.
  3. Playoff games will have the time limit. If the game is tied after 7 innings or the time limit, the international tie-breaking rule will apply
    1. International tie-breaking rule: the person who scheduled to bat last in the inning will be placed on second base to start in each extra inning.
      1. Example: the person batting 5th is due to lead off the 8th inning. The person who is batting in the 4th spot of the order will be placed on second base.
  4. Championship games will be 7 innings, no time limit. The international tie-breaking rule will apply starting in the 8th inning.
  5. The visiting team bats first and the home team bats second in each inning. This will be determined before the game, with the umpire(s) and captains.
    1. The next inning begins once the last out in the current inning is recorded.
  6. Run Ahead Rule
    1. applies to all games. 
    2. after 4 innings of play, if a team is ahead by 15 or more runs, the game is over.
    3. after 5 innings of play, if a team is ahead by 10 or more runs, the game is over. 
  7. If a game is called because of rain, darkness, etc., 3 innings shall constitute an official game.


  1. Metal cleats are illegal.
  2. Players may use their own equipment, provided it is approved by the supervisor and umpires.
    1. Bats MUST weigh between 25-30oz
    2. Must have an ASA stamp
    3. May not be a fast pitch bat or a baseball bat.
  3. GVSU IM Sports will provide game balls
  4. Double First Base
    1. The white portion is in fair territory. The orange base is in foul territory.
    2. The orange portion is only to be used by the batter-runner when a play is being made on them before they reach first base. All other times the white portion is the base.


  1. The ball shall be delivered with an arc of at least 6 feet and not more than 12 feet from the ground. 
    1. PENALTY: Illegal pitch
      1. Note:  when an illegal pitch is called, if the batter does not swing, it is an automatic ball. If the batter swings, they must take the results of the play.
  2. Any legal pitch in flight that lands on the mat or home plate is a strike.
  3. The pitcher must be in contact with the pitcher's plate when they release the ball, or an illegal pitch may be called.


  1. Batters begin each at bat with a one ball and one strike count.
  2. The batter is out when they hit a foul ball after having two strikes.
  3. Bunting and chopping are both illegal.
    1. Result: Dead ball, batter is out. Runners return to bases.
  4. The batter-runner and all other runners are awarded two bases, from their position at the time the ball goes out of play, on fair balls, batted out of play.
  5. Run Per Inning Rule
    1. No more than 10 runs may score in any half inning. Once the 10th run scores, the inning will end. 
    2. This rule does not apply to the seventh inning OR any extra innings.

Base Running

  1. Base runner(s) may leave their base when a pitch is contacted by the batter or crosses home plate. There is no stealing. 
    1. The ball is dead, no pitch is declared and the runner is out when they leave early
  2. All runners are awarded two bases, from the time of the throw, on all balls thrown in to dead ball territory.
  3. When a fielder catches a ball in live ball territory and their momentum carries them into dead ball territory, the batter is out and the ball is dead. All runners will be awarded one base.
    1. If a fielder catches and then intentionally goes into dead ball territory, all runners will be awarded two bases. The batter is still out.
  4. Pinch runners are legal. They may only run for a person in one spot in the order. This counts as a substitute and is subject to all substitution rules.
  5. Feet first sliding is legal. A runner is never required to slide, but has the responsibility to attempt to avoid deliberate contact.
    1. Head first slides are illegal.
      1. The ball is dead and the runner is out. All other runners return to the last base occupied.

Page last modified July 6, 2023