USSSA Fastpitch Rules

With few exceptions, CT USSSA Fastpitch will abide by the rules and by-laws governed by the USSSA Fastpitch Rulebook. The on-line rulebook supersedes any printed edition. Like most softball sanctioning bodies the rules of USSSA play are virtually identical to Pony, ASA and other organizations. However, there are some differences. These following rules are the most commonly asked about by coaches and the following will be adhered to in ALL USSSA tournaments in Connecticut.

Downloadable USSSA Fastpitch Rules.

Metal Spikes:  Metal spikes are allowed at tournaments for ages 13U and up. 

Chin Straps: Chin straps are NOT mandatory but highly recommended.

Pitching Distance: For 10U the pitching distance is 35 ft. For 12U the pitching distance is 40 ft. For 13U and higher it is 43 ft..

Pitching Rules: Two feet are required to be in contact with the rubber.

4 Pool Games: In 3-game pool play when an uneven number of teams exists, one team will play 4 pool games. The worst result of the 4 games will be dropped.  

DP/Flex: A team may use the Designated Player (DP)/FLEX option provided it is made known prior to the start of the game.

  • The DP’s name is indicated on the lineup as one of the batters in the batting order.
  • The name of the player for whom the DP is batting (FLEX) will be placed in the last position (non-batting) following the last batter in the lineup.
  • The DP must remain in the same position in the lineup for the entire game.
  • The DP may be substituted for at any time by a legal substitute or the FLEX.
  • If the starting DP is replaced on offense by the FLEX, the DP will leave the game. This reduces the number of players in the lineup by one. However the number of batters does not change.
  • If replaced by a substitute, the DP position remains in the lineup.
  • A starting DP may re-enter one time, as long as the DP returns to the original position in the batting order. If the DP re-enters or a substitute enters as the DP and the FLEX was batting in the DP’s spot, the FLEX can:
  1. return to the last position (non-batting) and play defense only, or
  2. leave the game.
  • The DP may play defense at any position.
  • The DP may play defense for a player other than the FLEX, that player will continue to bat but not play defense, and is not considered to have left the game.
  • The DP may play defense for the FLEX and the FLEX is considered to have left the game, reducing the number of players by eliminating the non-batting position in the lineup.
  • The FLEX player may be substituted for at any time by a legal substitute and the FLEX position remains in the lineup. 
  1. If the FLEX player is not playing defense, the non-batting FLEX position is eliminated and the FLEX player is out of the game Unless the FLEX player is playing offensive in the DP’s position, then the FLEX player may remain in the game and not play defense. 
  2. The FLEX position can be re-established if the FLEX player re-enters or is substituted for.
  3. If replaced by the DP, this eliminates the non-batting position.
  4. If the FLEX re-enters or a substitute enters as the FLEX and the DP was playing defense in the FLEX player’s spot,
  • a). the DP can return to batting only, play defense for another player and the non-batting position is re-established or
  • b). The DP can leave the game if the FLEX plays offense for the DP.
  • Placing the FLEX into one of the batting positions for someone other than the DP’s position is considered an illegal substitution. The illegal substitute shall be removed from the game and restricted to the dugout/bench.

Additional Player(s): Up to two additional players can be used to increase the batting lineup to 10 or 11 batters. The additional player(s) will be placed in the lineup in the batting position(s) to be occupied. The Additional Player(s) can be used on defense (only 9 defensive players on the field), but must keep the same position in the batting order. The Additional Player(s), if used, must be selected prior to the start of the game, and their name(s) must be included on the lineup card presented to the umpire.  Failure to declare the use of the Additional Player(s) prior to the game precludes the use of an Additional Player(s) in that game.  If a pinch-hitter or pinch runner is used for an Additional Player, that player becomes the new Additional Player. The original Additional Player(s) may re-enter like any other player under the re-entry rule. If an Additional Player is used, the position must be used the entire game.

Courtesy Runner: (A) The team at bat may use a courtesy runner for the pitcher and/or catcher any time after they reach base other than by substitution. The same runner may not be used for both positions in the same inning.  Neither the pitcher nor the catcher will be required to leave under such circumstances. (B) Players who have participated in the game in any other capacity are ineligible to serve as a courtesy runner.  Penalty: A player who is not entitled to be a courtesy runner who is used as a courtesy runner shall immediately be called out and a team warning issued.  On the second offense: The head coach is ejected for the remainder of game only. (C) A runner put in for any player other than the pitcher or catcher will be considered a substitute player. (D) A Player may not run as a courtesy runner and be used as a substitute for another player in that half inning. Exception: Unless there is an injury and there is no substitute available, the courtesy runner must be used as a substitute and take the place of the injured player. Should the courtesy runner be on base, the pitcher or catcher for whom the courtesy runner is running must run in their place. (E) Once a courtesy runner is designated for that half inning, no other courtesy runner or the pitcher or the catcher may return to run for the original courtesy runner. Should an injury occur, another courtesy runner or the pitcher or catcher may run until they score or are put out. (F) The courtesy runner is not permitted to be used if there is a Designated Hitter being used for the pitcher or catcher.

Tiebreaker: After the completion of 7- innings, or when time limits have expired, and the score is still tied, the tiebreaker procedure will begin. The player, who had the last completed at bat, assumes a position on 2nd base. A substitute may be inserted. A courtesy runner may be used for the pitcher or catcher. This procedure would be done at the beginning of each half inning; until a winner is determined. If the absent player should begin the half inning at second base, no out is declared. The player whose name precedes the absent player in the line-up is placed on second base.

Playing Short: A team shall be allowed to play one player short. The batting position the team cannot fill shall be designated as the absent player. When the absent player is scheduled to bat, an out shall be declared for each turn at bat. A team may play short under the following circumstances: A. A team may continue a game with one less player than is currently in the batting order whenever a player leaves the game for any reason other than ejection and no substitutes are available. 1.  If the player leaving the game is the batter or a runner, they shall be declared out. Exception: If the player is injured, the player may be replaced by the player not currently on base who had the last completed time at bat. This exception does not apply to any future time at bat. 2. The players who left the game cannot return to the lineup. Exception: a player, who has left the game under the blood rule, may return. B.  A team may begin the game with eight (8) players in a 9 player lineup. The absent player shall be listed in the ninth (9th) batting position and the team will be required to take an automatic out in the ninth position in the batting order. Under no circumstances shall a team be allowed to have less than eight (8) players in the batting order. C. The team may not play short if there is an eligible substitute available. If an eligible player arrives, they must enter the game immediately.

Run Rule: The run rule awards a win to a team that has a 12 runs lead after 3 completed innings or 2 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead, 10 runs after 4 completed inning or 3 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead, 8 runs lead after 5 completed innings or 4 1/2 innings if the home team is ahead.