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Interference & Infield Fly
MAJOR NEWSFLASH - APRIL 28, 2022
On April 25, 2022, the NFHS finally issues a formal ruling and clarification regarding interference and the infiled fly. You can review the release followed by all of the info originally authored in 2019. Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah
CHALLENGE - I challenge softball officials everywhere to get all the way through this blog entry. If you do, then you will prove to me your value and become an official that I want to take the field with in a big game... Enjoy!
JULY 5, 2019 - It is an awesome feeling when you open the latest issue of USA Softball's "Plays and Clarifications" and two of the plays are mine (SEE LATER IN THIS ENTRY). Yep, the June 2019 edition will forever be known to me as Michael Leavitt's USA Softball Infield Fly Interference edition. The issue contains two plays that deal with the complications of the infield fly and interference. For an umpire, that is when the sun, the moon, and the stars align once every 2,500 games. It turns out, according to Kevin Ryan at USA Softball, that the rulings are a bit different depending on whether it is a runner or the batter-runner that interferes on the play.
Umpires that know me well will remember my struggle with an infield fly play at Carbon High School in Price, Utah a couple of years back followed by the recent Utah High School State Playoff play this year that would have ended the game between Bear River and Spanish Fork. I count my blessings that I was not on the field that for that game. Instead, Randell Silcox, Joey Wright, and Matt Logan got to endure that play and the ultimate ruling by UIC Larry Colledge. Umpires nationwide questioned their judgment and application of the NFHS rules on the play.
YOUTUBE VIDEO - Spanish Fork & Bear River - https://youtu.be/TfF0BL2SSC8
NOTE: Larry Colledge responded to me, "In the rule book it is an infield fly even if the umpires don’t call it. Therefore the infield fly is an out and the only thing that can change it is a foul ball."
I could not, of course, leave Larry Colledge's answer alone, so I responded.....
Yes, but there are differing opinions as to when it is called. Is it at the time of the hit, or when it is declared by the umpire? The arguments are sound for both dispositions. Does interference kill the play at the time it happens, or is a delayed dead ball happen to determine the legitimacy of the infield fly. Larry, both you and I are in agreement, but there is a huge faction that does not agree. They feel only one out can be called on this type of play, hence my request for clarification.
If you kill the play with the interference and the fielder quits moving under the ball and it hits and rolls foul, then the interference call changed the outcome of the play. It turned a fair ball infield fly interference call into a foul ball interference call with only one out.
In my case, I had not uttered the words yet when the runner from second ran into the shortstop.
Does interference really kill everything? Delaying to call it, like Matt, could have resulted in major injury with an unneeded slide into home plate. That heaps liability onto us as umpires. A lawyer would say that there would have been no injury at home if the umpire had killed it long before the play developed.
This is really much more involved than a casual onlooker would presume.
Let’s face it, there is a void in the rules, leaving way too much room for varied interpretations amongst umpires. As it stands, half feel like you and I, and then there are the others that think we are up in the night. ?
Michael Leavitt * Michael@TheHomeInspector.com * www.TheHomeInspector.com * 801-636-6816
As a result of the posting of the video, the third base umpire (U2), Randell Silcox, shared this clarification on Facebook and YouTube of what happened on the field at the Spanish Fork and Bear River game...
Randell Silcox - "I am responding farther down the post so I do not know who will read this. I hope it answers some questions many people have about the ENFORCEMENT.
Bases loaded one out. Batter B1 hits an infield fly that if it goes fair is out and goes foul then it has to be caught to be out. After making contact with the ball with the bat B1 runs toward first base. On the play she has no reason to run all the way to first. As stated before she’s either out by IFF or a catch in foul territory or she bats again. But under no circumstance, I repeat no circumstances will she end up on first base. The best thing this girl can do is stop running to first and just stand there. Out of the way of the play. But the girls are taught to run out a pop fly. She continues to first base like a normal pop up and on her travels it is determined to interfere with the first baseman’s attempt to catch the batted ball by going underneath F3’s right arm and body to obtain 1st base. Admittedly F3 is paying attention to the flight of the ball in the air and is not looking for B1. She starts in foul territory and moves with the flight if the ball as it goes up and starts to come down. As the ball is coming down it is in fair territory therefore the batter is out by IFF. But the interference occurs before the ball is touched in fair territory. But that doesn’t matter. The IFF was called so it was the first out of the play and second out of the inning. Now as umpires we have to handle a situation where an offensive player is already out by rule and created another situation where her actions created another out. But an offending player can be both the second and third out of the inning.
So where do the officials enforce a rule where it states that a person who is already out by rule. Section 8 tells us that an interference places the penalty on the runner closest to home. That would matter if the player was on 2nd or 3rd in this play the closest to home would be out. Hence the runner on 3rd was called out by rule. Three outs and inning over.
As to the comment about taking 8 minutes before moving on I don’t care if it would have taken 30 minutes. The crew determined the situation and the enforcement within a minute. We knew what we had to call and called it. We also knew that this play happened as the last outs of the 7th May I repeat 7th inning or the end of a game. We knew that explaining this to BR coaches would not be accepted without questions. I signaled to the booth to send out the UIC because we knew the coaches of BR would want another opinion from a rules interpreter of the state. The UIC came down and we explained the play and our actions and why we made the ruling that we made. At each step the UIC agreed with our decisions and at the very end our conclusions. Now we had to explain it to the offended team (BR) coaches and let them ask their questions. This was a game changing situation at the end of the game. We took whatever time we needed to make sure that everything was explained and questions were answered. Then and only then did we move on to International Run Rule and start the 8th inning.
Being U2 on third I watched the whole play and watched my partners make calls on the play. As the third team on the field we talked and digested what happened, what we called and how we enforced it. The three umpires did the best we could under the circumstances knowing there would be fallout from the play. But that’s why they pay ? us the big bucks. To enforce the rules written while allowing both teams to play softball. We did that. Some parts of that were judgement. As a crew, we stood up and did what we needed to at the time. So I say anyone helping all of us to learn to better umpires. Thanks for your input. As to Joey and Matt and myself. Good job guys. We made some tough decisions and did the best we knew at the time."
The major disagreements on the internet forums and groups reinforced my decision to seek guidance from the ruling bodies, I wrote up the plays and submitted them to our Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) rules interpreter, National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) rules committee, and to USA Softball State and National officials. This is where you never know if the plays will be looked at seriously, or whether you will never hear anything back, enhanced by the sound of crickets on a Yellowstone night as they remind you that nobody really cares but you.
After writing up the plays and sending them off to the various leaders, some responses came quick. Local leadership told me that the questions/plays were received. Both of my plays actually happened in high school girl's fastpitch games, but the rulings would also greatly affect the 10 1/2 months a year that I do USA Softball games. That is why I sent them to both NFHS and USA Softball leadership. Add to that my posting of the video on State, Regional, and National Facebook groups and there was a lot of discussion amongst umpires across the nation. The majority were either in one camp or the other. But these camps were at extreme ends of the scale. I could fight either battle and feel totally justified by the rules and feel like a winner in my stance, yet both could not be correct. There was a third group of empires that seemed to be standing in the middle with their arms being thrown in the air with that "I have no clue" look of disgust. Let's face it, the rule books were anything but definitive on the plays. I knew that until we all got further light and knowledge from the NFHS and USA Softball, then all of us umpires were left to our own interpretations.
I giggled when I was approached by the Utah USSSA leader at the UHSAA State Playoffs (5/29/2019) and he said that he had been receiving numerous calls from umpires wanting to know the USSSA stance on the infield fly when combined with interference. I was glad to hear that my rustling the bushes was also having an affect within other associations too.
I will not soon forget coming off the field and into the Blue Room later that same night (5/29/2019) when I found Jeff Cluff (UHSAA Assistant Director) waiting for me and he said, "Hey, we gotta talk!" With that, I knew that he either had information for me or I was in big trouble and going to get the reaming of my life. Either way, I was eager and ready to hear what he had to say. NOTE: Keep in mind that I did not realize that my chest protector GoPro was still recording. I can tell from the video that my heart rate immediately increased and I knew this was going to be an important conversation. I am sharing it here to accurately convey Jeff Cluff's message to me. He proved himself a stand-up guy that night and I eagerly look forward to the official NFHS and UHSA rulings.
WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO (4:52) - https://youtu.be/onTrXJrrpzY
JEFF CLUFF QUOTE - "It has created quite a stir, not just in softball, but in baseball. It's all over the place. Uh, minor league people are having an opinion on it too. It's the same in all sports. The application" I interrupted with, "Do you think it will be ruled by everybody the same?" Jeff continued with, "Yes I do!" See the 3:50 point in his very clear video explanation.
AFTERTHOUGHTS - It was really professional of Jeff Cluff to take the time to come over to our complex and talk with me about this issue. I give him kudos for taking the time to share. I know that his time is valuable, and his talking to me time was taking from his home with his family time... Pretty cool! Jeff's personal assessment is NOT in harmony with USA Softball ruling, but I understand his ruling as it directly relates to the Spanish Fork & Bear River play. I do not feel that he had given the other scenarios a lot of thought. I also understand that it will take a while for the dews to distill. I have been struggling with this one for over three years myself... But at least I have leadership starting to contemplate the various infield fly interference scenarios.
Keep in mind that it is July 5, 2019 and I still have not received any written official ruling from either the NFHS or the UHSAA. Jeff Cluff's personal conversation on May 29, 2019 was the only acknowledgment that they (UHSAA & NFHS) had even received my ruling request.
On the other hand, on May 31st I received a phone call from Kevin Ryan at USA Softball. I saw his name on my caller ID and thought it was really incredible that he would call me directly. Kevin and I spoke for 17 minutes and 41 seconds. I wish that I had that audio recording. It went something like this... "Michael, this is Kevin Ryan with USA Softball and I want you to know that I received your infield fly interference plays and I have written rulings that I am going to send to you this afternoon, but I wanted to talk to you first." I heard his rulings and shared with him a few twists on the play and I could tell that my further scenarios were not in complete harmony with his current rulings. I was very pleased with his call, and that as an ordinary umpire with USA Softball that I was important enough for him to personally reach out. I waited for the written ruling later that day... and kept waiting... and kept waiting until the promised email finally arrived on June 4, 2019.
KEVIN RYAN'S EMAIL RULING RESPONSE
June 4, 2019, I received a ruling e-mail from Kevin Ryan at USA Softball. The following is my original May 27th e-mail with Kevin Ryan's responses interjected in bold red...
Mr. Kevin Ryan,
Thanks again for considering my tough play correspondence from Utah. You have been very gracious with me in the past. The following scenarios both happened in high school games with NFHS rule books, but the umpires involved all do USA Softball. We are all good friends and we all know that this type of play is going to happen again in our NFHS and USA Softball games. It all comes back to when, timing wise, is the infield fly rule in effect?
WHEN IS AN INFIELD FLY RULE IN EFFECT?
This sounds like a very easy question, but the answer has strange ramifications when the infield fly rule is combined with an interference call. There are two schools of thought, and the rule book does not clarify, leaving us umpires in two different camps, with very different rulings on the same play. Granted, this combination happens rarely, but here in Utah it has reared its ugly head twice in 3 years. Please consider the following plays...
Runners on first and second with one out. The batter hits a high pop fly to the shortstop, easily catchable with normal effort. As the plate umpire is starting to signal and verbalize "Infield Fly, batter is out" the runner from second base runs into the shortstop and the ball is then dropped. The field umpire raises his arms and loudly yells, "Dead Ball" for the interference on the primary play on the batted ball. What should be our ruling?
In the above, there are several scenarios. 1) Plate umpire yells and signals infield fly before the runner contacts the short stop. 2) The plate umpire is waiting to see if the ball stays in the infield and has yet to signal and verbalize "Infield Fly batter is out" when the runner makes contact with the shortstop. 3) The other scenarios deal with whether or not the shortstop makes the catch even after being interfered with, yet the play is dead when the interference occurs.
MY RULING - I believe the correct ruling is that the infield fly is retroactive to the initial hit off the bat, once the ball has proven that it is live and worthy of infield fly status. This allows me to call the infield fly out and then deal with the interference out. This would give me two outs on the play and the end of the inning. If we had started with no outs, then we would have two outs and the only remaining runner being placed back on first base.
OTHERS - The other camp feels that the infield fly cannot be determined until the ball has proven itself fair and worthy of infield fly status. Therefore, the interference happens before the infield fly and the play is dead. One out and the batter-runner is placed at first by rule since interference supersedes nearly everything, and the interference rules are clear when they state that the interference is called and the batter-runner is awarded first base. The interference makes it as if the infield fly never happened.
ADDED ISSUE - I feel that the offense should be penalized for their interfering on the play. To not award two outs, would be rewarding the offense. They would end up with one out on the play and runners at first and second. We do not want to reward them for their actions, thus encouraging runners to say "Oops" and run into fielders making a play on the initial batted ball. That is something we do NOT want to encourage. We also do not want to determine if there was intent to interfere by the runner.
KEVIN RYAN - Ruling: The infield fly is invoked and the batter is in jeopardy to be out once the ball is determined to be a fair. When the runner runs into F6 and the umpires determines i nterference and call the ball dead. At that time the status of the ball is fair and the runner would be out for interference and the batter-runner would be out on the infield fly rule. Rule 1 Definition Infield Fly, Rule 1 (D) Definition of a fair ball, Rule 8, Section 2I, and Rule 8, Section 7J
This is similar and happened in a high school semi-final state playoff game a week and a half ago. See the video at... https://youtu.be/TfF0BL2SSC8 .
In this case, bases are loaded with one out. The ball is hit high on the first base line with a slight wind. The plate umpire yells, "Infield Fly if fair" and points upwards. The batter-runner runs under the right armpit of the awaiting first baseman who must veer to her right and ultimately drops the ball that was first touched in fair territory. The U1 base umpire comes in with his hands raised with an interference on the batter-runner. Before he can get the attention, the runner at third comes into home and scores to break the tie and end the game.
RULING ON THE FIELD - The batter-runner is out on the infield fly and is a retired runner when she is deemed to have interfered. This is the second out. When the “retired” batter-runner interferes, then the penalty is the runner closest to home is also called out for out three, end of inning.
OTHER SIDE - Infield fly status cannot be determined on this type of play until it has proven itself to be a fair ball. The interference happens before the infield fly status can be determined; thus we have an out on the interference and act as though there is no infield fly, and place all of the runners back on their bases. Two outs and play on.
NOTE: We are not questioning the validity of the interference in the video. In Matt Logan's judgment, he had interference. Let's not get sidetracked.
ODDITIES - The slight wind could have taken this high pop fly near the base line and taken it fair or foul, and this would greatly alter the ruling. If it has been slightly foul when the interference was ruled, then we have an easy interference out and runners put back on base with it being a foul ball and interference. Introduce the fair aspect, and we need a ruling to clarify what to do when interference and the infield fly rule happen on the same play.
KEVIN RYAN - On this play, as in all infield fly situations, the batter-runner is not out on the infield fly until the ball has been ruled fair. In this case t he batter-runner is the person who interferes with the ability to make a play on a possible infield fly. We do not reference a rule when a batter-runner interferes with a fielder but do have a rule when the batter-runner is struck by a fair batted ball in an infield fly situation. In both cases t he batter-runner has given the ball status as fair. We should treat both situations as the same. With that in mind when the batter-runner interferes with the ability of F3 to catch a fair batted ball and the ball is called dead, it gives the ball fair ball status. The Batter is now out due to the infield fly, the ball is dead and the batter is out on the infield fly. All runners return to the base they were on at the time of the infield fly. Rule 8, Section 2J
NATIONAL DISCUSSIONS - In case you are wondering if there is controversy, there is both local Utah dissension and national USA Softball and NFHS Facebook groups at odds with one another over this issue. I can share with you the transcripts of the discussions, if you like. We have dissected both rule sets and cannot come to general consensus as to the rulings. This is important to me because the first play happened with me behind the plate. This second play happened to good friends of mine and the odds are good that it is going to happen again in the future. So just like the chicken and the egg, when is an infield fly an infield fly?
KEVIN RYAN - A batted ball is an infield fly when it meets the definition of an infield fly. We have to keep separate the definition and the penalty. In reality, w hen we call an infield fly we should always says t he batter is out if fair. Then the penalty comes into play. Once the status of the ball is determined is when the batter is out or not out on an infield fly.
Is it when it comes off the bat retroactively, or when the umpire physically signals and verbalizes the call? And how do you rule with the interference and infield fly rule happening on the same play?
KEVIN RYAN - We rule based on if it is a runner or the batter-runner who causes what we call interference.
Thanks again for your consideration of these topics.
Respectfully, Michael D. Leavitt
So let us extract Kevin Ryan's e-mail responses...
KEVIN RYAN - Ruling: The infield fly is invoked and the batter is in jeopardy to be out once the ball is determined to be a fair. When the runner runs into F6 and the umpires determines interference and call the ball dead. At that time the status of the ball is fair and the runner would be out for interference and the batter-runner would be out on the infield fly rule. Rule 1 Definition Infield Fly, Rule 1 (D) Definition of a fair ball, Rule 8, Section 2I, and Rule 8, Section 7J
KEVIN RYAN - On this play, as in all infield fly situations, the batter-runner is not out on the infield fly until the ball has been ruled fair. In this case the batter-runner is the person who interferes with the ability to make a play on a possible infield fly. We do not reference a rule when a batter-runner interferes with a fielder but do have a rule when the batter-runner is struck by a fair batted ball in an infield fly situation. In both cases the batter-runner has given the ball status as fair. We should treat both situations as the same. With that in mind when the batter-runner interferes with the ability of F3 to catch a fair batted ball and the ball is called dead, it gives the ball fair ball status. The Batter is now out due to the infield fly, the ball is dead and the batter is out on the infield fly. All runners return to the base they were on at the time of the infield fly. Rule 8, Section 2J
WHEN IS AN INFIELD FLY AN INFIELD FLY?
KEVIN RYAN - A batted ball is an infield fly when it meets the definition of an infield fly. We have to keep separate the definition and the penalty. In reality when we call an infield fly we should always says the batter is out if fair. Then the penalty comes into play. Once the status of the ball is determined is when the batter is out or not out on an infield fly.
HOW DO WE RULE INFIELD FLY AND INTERFERENCE PLAYS?
KEVIN RYAN - We rule based on if it is a runner or the batter-runner who causes what we call interference.
JUNE 2019 USA SOFTBALL PLAYS & CLARIFICATIONS
And finally, here is the latest USA Softball rulings...
WEBSITE - https://www.teamusa.org/usa-softball/umpires/~/link.aspx?_id=B40BCFEE5CF64CD29DFC61734F77D1AD&_z=z
PDF DOWNLOAD - https://www.teamusa.org/-/media/USA_Softball/Documents/2019/Umpire/2019_JunePlaysandClarifications.pdf?la=en&hash=C46DBC65F48483884FE8C2A72B8477CDCDE63C99
WORD DOWNLOAD - https://www.teamusa.org/-/media/USA_Softball/Documents/2019/Umpire/June-Plays-and-Clarifications.docx?la=en&hash=44FDD4E79EBACE3354187D0DF123820D2BE3C0C
USA SOFTBALL PLAYS AND CLARIFICATIONS - JUNE 2018
Play: R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B with one out. B4 hits a fly ball to F6. With F6 under the fly ball to make the catch R1 runs into F6 prior to F6 contacting the fly ball.
Ruling: The ball is dead and R1 is out for interference. When R1 contacted F6 the ball status was fair therefor the ball is a fair ball and B4 is also out on the infield fly. Rule 1 Definition Infield Fly, Rule 1 Definition of a fair ball (D), Rule 8, Section 2I, and Rule 8, Section 7J .
The question from this play always seems to be centered around when a batter is out on an infield fly. Since the definition of an infield fly states “A fair fly ball, not including a line drive or an attempted bunt, which can be caught by an infielder, pitcher or catcher with ordinary effort when first and second or first, second and third bases are occupied with less than two outs,” a batter is not out until the ball has been determined to be fair. In this play, by rule the interference happened while the ball was over fair ball territory. Rule 1 Definition of a fair ball letter D states; A legally batted ball that while over fair territory, an offensive player interferes with a defensive player attempting to field a batted ball. The ball now becomes fair and the batter is out on the infield fly.
Play: R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B with one out. B4 hits a fly ball to F3. The umpire declares infield fly if fair. B4 runs into F3 before F3 is able to catch the fair fly ball.
Ruling: The ball is dead and B4 is out on the infield fly. Runners return to the base occupied at the time of the pitch. Rule 1 Definition Infield Fly, Rule 1 (D) Definition of a fair ball, Rule 8, Section 2J Rule 8, Section 2I.
The rule reference Rule 8, Section 2J states; When an infield fly is declared, and the fair batted ball hits the batter-runner before reaching first base.
1 The ball is dead.
2 The infield fly is invoked.
Even though the ball does not hit B4 the intent of our rule is if the batter-runner interferes with an infield fly before it legally becomes a fair ball, the ball should become dead and the batter-runner should be declared out on the infield fly. This allows for the runners to be put back on the base they started from versus the last base touched if we called interference.
For those that want to research USA Softball rulings further, here are the eight case book plays regarding infield fly in the 2019 version of the casebook.
USA SOFTBALL CASEBOOK 2019
There is one out with R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B. In a defensive maneuver, F7 sets up in the infield where F5 normally plays. B4 hits an infield fly that could easily be handled by F7, but instead, drops the ball near 3B.
RULING: The infield fly rule is in effect. This ruling does not apply to CO-ED. (1-INFIELDER; 1-INFIELD FLY; 1-OUTFIELDER; 8-2I)
With one out, R1 on 3B, R2 on 2B and R3 on 1B, B5 hits an infield fly and the umpires invoke the infield fly rule. No fielder makes an attempt to catch the ball, which lands near F1 and rolls toward the 1B line, where it touches B5, who is running toward 1B in fair territory. F2 now grabs the ball and throws to 3B to retire R1 who is off the bag when tagged. Is this a double play?
RULING: Since the umpires ruled infield fly, the status of the ball is not known until it strikes B5 in fair territory. When B5 is struck by the batted ball, the ball becomes dead immediately, and therefore, it is not possible to retire R1 on a play at 3B. B5 is out and the bases remain loaded. (1-INFIELD FLY; 8-2F &J))
With one out, R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B, B4 hits a high fly ball that, in the judgment of the umpire, can be handled by F4 with reasonable effort. The umpire declares the infield fly rule. F4 intentionally drops the fly ball and R1 seeing the ball dropped, runs to 3B but is thrown out.
RULING: B4 is out on the infield fly rule. The ball remains live and runner(s) may advance at their own risk, therefore R1 is out. (1-INFIELD FLY; 8-2I & J EFFECT)
With no outs, R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B, B3 hits a high pop fly between home and 1B which F3 loses sight of in the sun. The ball lands on foul ground without being touched and rolls into fair territory halfway between home and 1B. F1 picks up the ball and throws to F4 covering 1B who touches R2 with the ball while R2 is off the base.
RULING: Infield fly. B3 and R2 are both out. (1-INFIELD FLY; 8-2I; 8-7B)
The umpire calls ‘‘infield fly’’ but the ball curves into foul territory.
RULING: It is not an infield fly, just a foul ball. The batter is not out unless the foul is caught. If the ball is caught, any runner(s) must retouch their base before advancing. (8-2I)
With no outs and R1 on 2B, R2 on 1B, B3 fakes a bunt, but at the last moment draws back and swings away. B3 hits a blooper no more than 10 feet off the ground toward F5. The umpire calls ‘‘infield fly.’’
RULING: There is nothing in the rules defining how high an infield fly must go. Since this is neither a line drive nor an attempted bunt, the umpire is right in calling an infield fly if they feel it could be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort. (1-INFIELD FLY; 8-2I)
With one out, R1 on 3B, R2 on 2B, R3 on 1B, B4 hits a high pop fly to the infield. The umpires call “infield fly.” The ball drops near 3B untouched and starts to roll foul. F5 throws their glove at the ball to prevent it from rolling foul and the glove hits the ball over (a) fair territory or (b) foul territory.
RULING: In (a) the infield fly stays in effect for the second out, and all three runners will score. In (b) it is a foul ball. (8-5F)
With two outs, R1 on 2B and R2 on 1B, B3 hits an infield fly that F6 missed. The umpire rules “INFIELD FLY, BATTER OUT.” The offensive team protests a rule interpretation.
RULING: This is a valid protest. B3 would be awarded 1B and both runners advanced one base. (9-3)
NFHS CASEBOOK 2019
10.2.3 SITUATION F:
With a runner on third and no outs, the batter hits a high fly in the infield above the second baseman's head. The base umpire erroneously calls, "Infield fly, the batter is out." The second baseman subsequently drops the ball. The runner from third scores and the batter ends up on second base. Does the play stand or is the batter out? Does the run count?
RULING: The play would stand. Both teams have the responsibility to know when conditions exist for an infield fly. The batter-runner should attempt to reach base safely despite the umpire's error. (2-20-1, 2-20-2; 2-30; 8-1-1a)
2.30 SITUATION A:
With R1 on second, and R2 on first, (a) B3 bunts (F.P.) or (b) swings and hits a pop up which falls between home and third and cannot be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.
RULING: In (a), a bunt is never an infield fly. In (b), this is not an infield fly.
2.30 SITUATION B:
R1 and R2 are on second and first bases, respectively, with no outs. B3 hits a high pop foul between home and first base with F3 losing sight of the ball because of the sun. The ball lands on foul ground without being touched and rolls into fair territory halfway between home and first base. F1 picks up the ball and throws to F4 covering first, who touches R2 with the ball while she is off base.
RULING: Fair ball. Even though the infield fly was not called, it is still in effect. B3, therefore, is out. R2 is also out. (8-2-9)
8.1.2 SITUATION A:
With one out, R1 is on second and R2 is on first. An infield fly by B4 touches R2 who is standing on first.
RULING: B4 is out. R2 is not out unless she intentionally interferes. (2-30, 2-32, 8-2-9, 8-8-13)
8.2.9 SITUATION A:
The umpire calls "infield fly" but the ball curves and becomes a foul ball.
RULING: The call is reversed. It is not an infield fly but an ordinary foul. The batter is not out unless the foul fly is caught. If caught, each runner shall retouch the base occupied at the time of the pitch. (2-30)
8.2.9 SITUATION B:
With R1 on second and R2 on first and less than two outs, B3 hits a pop-up that comes down over foul territory. Is this an infield fly if (a) it touches the ground out of the reach of all infielders and then takes a long hop into fair territory between home and first or (b) it is within reach of an infielder who does not touch it and the ball bounces to fair territory?
RULING: It is not an infield fly in (a) if the umpire judges it could not be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort. In (b), it is an infield fly if the umpire judges it could have been caught by an infielder with ordinary effort. (2-30)
8.2.9 SITUATION C:
With the bases loaded and less than two outs, B5 pops up in the infield. The umpire calls, "Infield Fly." F6 intentionally drops the ball, which then bounds away from her. R1 on third takes off for home, just as the umpire declares the ball dead because F6 intentionally dropped the ball. The umpire then returns R1 to third. The coach of the team at bat claims that the ball should not have been declared dead, since the batter would have been out anyway due to the infield-fly rule.
RULING: The infield-fly rule takes precedence over the intentionally dropped fly ball. Therefore, the ball remains live and runners may advance at their own risk. In this play, the umpire made a mistake when he/she declared the ball dead, which prevented R1 from scoring. Even if the runner was close to scoring, she shall be returned to the last base occupied at the time the ball was declared dead. (2-30; 8-2-10)
8.6.10 SITUATION C:
With R1 on second, R2 on first and one out, B4 hits an infield fly. The ball strikes R1 who is (a) near second in front of F6, or (b) standing on second.
RULING: In (a) and (b), B4 is out, because of the infield fly rule. In (a), R1 is out and the ball becomes dead. In (b), R1 is not out unless she intentionally interfered. The ball would be ruled dead or live depending on position of the fielder closest to the base. (8-6-10a; 8-2-9)
8.6.10 SITUATION D:
(F.P.) With all bases occupied and no outs, B4 bunts a fly ball in the infield (never an infield fly). As R1 advances toward home, R1 contacts F5 causing F5 to miss the fly ball.
RULING: The ball is dead and R1 is out for interference, B4 is awarded first base and all other runners must return to the last base touched at the time of the interference unless forced to advance because of the batter-runner being awarded first base. (8-6-10a)
Congratulations to anybody who has still made it this far through the heavy information laden blog entry. When you see me next call me "Bozo The Clown" and I will know that you have endured this entire blog entry. I will smile, knowing that you are an umpire still in learning mode, like myself... And an umpire that I want to work together with on the field. As for the information in this entry, I know it is incomplete from the NFHS end, but I will add the NFHS perspective in the future as it becomes official. For now, the rulings by Kevin Ryan of USA Softball have shed new light on the issue. Who would have ever thought that the key difference on rulings was whether it was a runner or a batter-runner who interferes with the fielder trying to catch the batted infield fly ball? The ruling is simplistic and eliminates the runner or retired runner aspect of the rule interpretation. Batter-runner is out and put everybody back for one out. If another runner interferes in fair territory, they establish the fair ball, get called out for interference and the batter-runner gets called out for the infield fly, with any other runners being put back to where they started. I can easily remember these, but I think the penalty is NOT harsh enough for the bonehead batter-runner interference. Just calling them out and putting other runners back does not seem harsh enough for their bonehead move, but I don't write the rules.
Make it a great game! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah