JAM rules for Softball (STAGE 3)
© JAM 1996-2021
- The following guidelines supersede any of our traditional rules for Softball. We have made adjustments to promote safe participation while minimizing the impact of these changes to the in-game experience.
- All players must be listed on the team roster to participate, no exception. The online roster may include no more than 12 players and subs. This rule allows our leagues to adhere to provincial guidelines dictating that division sizes cannot contain more than 50 total participants.
- Please review the location details in your schedule for site-specific guidelines.
- Please keep in mind that we are all responsible to make every effort to minimize prolonged or deliberate contact between players.
- While standings may still appear in your schedule, there is significantly less focus being placed on winning and championships. New teams may be added and teams may be removed throughout the season for health and safety reasons.
- At this time masks are not mandatory during gameplay. Masks are mandatory to access any indoor portion of the facility. We encourage players to wear masks to and from the fields to help reduce your risk of exposure.
Gender guidelines in Coed leagues are still being observed to help balance team participation but are being relaxed as it relates to defaults. Teams are encouraged to not enforce a default if their opponent is unable to reach a gender minimum for a specific game. Captains should be communicating with each other in advance to ensure opponents are aware and to address any concerns. Our primary goal is to get people back out and playing. Please do not abuse this rule. If a default is being enforced, it must be clearly stated BEFORE the game.
- Subs maintain a 2-meter distance from one another along the sideline.
- High-fives or any other physical acknowledgments are not allowed. Please find another physically distanced way to acknowledge your opponents.
- Teams should come with a multiple softballs each and sanitizer or wipes for players to clean the balls between innings.
- Teams are encouraged to swap in clean balls more frequently if desired.
- Every effort should be made during gameplay to limit any prolonged physical contact with your opponents.
- Deliberate contact should be avoided with the understanding that we are playing with a reduced level of intensity.
- A “Play-on” mentality is enforced - no arguing or disputing calls.
- Teams are responsible for administering and addressing their own first aid needs. Our League Ambassadors can call 911 if requested to do so.
- Please take all of your belongings at the end of the session including any used PPE. It’s unlikely that garbage receptacles will be available at the fields.
There is only one format of Co-ed Outdoor Softball under JAM rules. It is described in its entirety below.
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All JAM Softball Games are seven innings in length with a time limit of 85 minutes. Please arrive early to ensure you get the full use of your allotted diamond time. Regardless of when your game begins your game will always end on time to allow the succeeding games to begin at their scheduled time. Please designate one person on your team to keep track of the time and score during the game.
- Games that are forced to be cut short due to dangerous playing conditions (i.e. weather), or are not complete in the 85 minute game time will end with the final score being the score at the end of the previous completed inning. However, if the game ends with the score tied or the home team in the lead without finishing the inning, the score will be taken as it stands at the time the game is called.
- If the lights at your diamond go out after the allocated 85 minute game time (your game is scheduled from 9:30-11pm - and the lights go off at 11:03 pm) then the result of the game will be the score at the end of the previous completed inning. However, if the game ends with the score tied or the home team in the lead without finishing the inning, the score will be taken as it stands at the time the game is called.
- No new inning can start within 5 minutes of the scheduled end time of your game. Please be courteous to the teams waiting to play.
Teams are comprised of nine (9) players (1 rover) with a minimum of three (3) of each gender on the field at once. A team can play with a minimum of 7 people, as long as there are two (2) of each gender. Should a team only have 2 female players on their team they can only play a maximum of 8 player’s total defensively forgoing a rover.
Defaults: A default will occur if any team cannot field a squad by 15 minutes after the official start time. A team can play with a minimum of 7 people, as long as there are two (2) of each gender. Should a team only have 2 female players on their team they can only play a maximum of 8 player’s total defensively forgoing a rover.
All softball diamonds vary in size and there is no set standard for JAM Softball Diamonds, however, all bases must be set out to JAM standards. Team Captains are responsible for setting up the bases. Please see the ‘Equipment/Set-up’ section below for more information.
- Team captains are responsible for bringing three (3) softballs, base mats or real bases, a catcher's mask, as well as copies of the field permits to all games (if necessary). This equipment is available from the JAM Head Office. It is the teams' responsibility to bring their own gloves and bats to all games as well as any extra softballs if the original three are lost. Both captains will need to bring their bases to every game so that the extras can be used as safety-bases at 1st base and home as well as the commitment line between 3rd base and home plate.
- The official softball of JAM leagues is a 12" yellow softball (.52 COR/275 LBS).
- Softball bases should be placed roughly 65 feet apart, or whatever works best given the size of the diamond. Both teams should agree on the placement of the bases.
- Only bats approved by the ASA or the USSSA, and which don’t appear on a list of banned bats, will be deemed legal. All bats must be softball bats (cannot be baseball bats).
- No throwing of the bat at any point during the game. Players are required to be mindful of everyone's safety and prevent any possibility of injury.
- Most approved softball bats have the following logo's:
- A mask is available for back catchers - this is a strongly recommended piece of equipment. Masks can be obtained from the JAM Head Office for a fully refundable equipment deposit. Please see our equipment page for more information. Softball helmets for batters, base runners and pitchers are not mandatory. However, it is strongly recommended that players or teams supply and wear their own helmets if they choose to do so in the interest of safety.
- Metal cleats are not allowed
- A team is able to use a protective net for pitchers if they choose to do so in the interest of safety. If one is being used, it is the pitcher's responsibility to put the net down in case there is a throw being made in that direct path (particularly throws to home). In the case that the pitcher does not put down the net and the net interferes with the ball, the play is dead and the runners must return to the previous base.
Teams are required to bring both light and coloured shirts to every game. Team colours are posted on the JAM website in your schedule. If two teams have the same colour the team captains should contact each other to ensure that each team knows what colour to wear.
Defaults: There is no default for players that don’t wear the right colour. However, that player must do everything they can to ensure it’s not confusing for the opposition. Whether this means wearing a pinny, a hat, a teammate’s shirt, etc. Under no circumstances can a player purposefully deceive the opposition.
Captains should decide prior to the start of the game if they are going to play any ground rules with regards to boundaries. Please make sure that both teams are aware of these rules so there is no confusion.
- The area behind the backstop, dugouts, home run fences and/or the fences running along first/third base is out of bounds, and the ball is dead when it goes in those areas. Additionally, for the fence line that runs along first and third base, when the fence stops, imagine the line if it kept going (parallel to the foul line). If the ball goes behind this line then it is out of bounds and play is dead. If the ball goes out of bounds while an active play is going on (i.e. an overthrow to first base) then the baserunner(s) will advance one extra base.
- Any ball used to begin the top half of an inning must be used in the bottom half as well. Should both teams agree to swap out a ball for any reason this can be done to start an inning. (Exceptions: A ball hit out of play i.e. parking lot, home run, forest, deep foul balls)
The following outlines the basis of the rules of Outdoor JAM Softball Programs:
- There is absolutely no sliding into any base, offensively or defensively. Any base runner that slides is automatically out.
- The catcher is strongly encouraged to wear the available mask.
- The rover may play anywhere on the field with the exception of the catcher's position.
- Metal cleats are not allowed
- 1st base and home plate will have "safety bases". As such, there will be a base for the first baseperson and the catcher to touch and a separate base (or line) for the runner to step on (run across). If the runner steps on the base that is designated for the catcher, the runner is out and the run does not count. For smaller diamonds, we recommend teams draw the scoring line on the outside of the backstop area to avoid a collision near home plate. Captains should discuss this prior to the game.
- There is a commitment line halfway between 3rd base and home plate marked with an extra base. Once the runner has crossed this line, they cannot return to 3rd base. If they do, it is an automatic out.
- A "force out" will always be in effect between home plate and first base. (i.e. the defensive player only has to touch their base to record an out). A baserunner CAN also be tagged on the way to first base for an out. As well, a force out will always be in effect between 3rd base and home plate once the runner has crossed over the commitment line. ALL plays at home are force-outs (the runner may not be tagged once he passes the commitment line). The catcher must stand on home plate for plays at home. There is no force out at 2nd or 3rd base unless the bases before them are full (e.g runner on 2nd must run to third since runner at 1st base is coming to 2nd) - these players must be tagged.
- A player can overrun 1st base ONLY, and they must stay in foul play when doing so. If you overrun 1st base into fair play, you can be tagged for an out.
- The team at bat provides their own pitcher. The safety of all pitchers is a priority in our leagues and should be a priority on your team! We recommend the following steps to help minimize the risks of pitching in our leagues:
- We strongly recommend a minimum pitching distance of roughly 12 paces from home plate
- We recommend pitchers consider wearing either a helmet, a catcher's mask, or a combination of both
- We ask that both team captains discuss the appropriate pitching distance prior to the start of the game, along with any ground rules that will be observed at the diamond. If a hit ball touches the pitcher, the ball is declared dead and the pitch is redone - base runners return to their previous bases and the pitch count is restored. (Pitchers should do their best to avoid making contact with a hit ball, but may protect themselves if necessary on a hard-hit ball).
- Every batter can receive a maximum of three (3) pitches. All foul balls, wild pitches, strikes and balls count as one of the three pitches. The only exception is a ball that hits the pitcher.
- There is no bunting or faking to bunt. However, a ball that is hit with a full swing, but does not go past the pitcher IS a live, playable ball.
- Batting Order - The golden rule when making a batting order is that at no time should 3 men bat in a row. A team must use their full roster for batting (i.e. players cannot only play defence). If the male:female ratio is greater than 2:1, then the batting order is two (2) men followed by one (1) woman. The male order and female order must always stay the same, although the overall order when mixed may change depending on the male/female ratio. For example, if a team has 7 men and 2 women present, the batting order will be: man 1, man 2, woman A, man 3, man 4, woman B, man 5, man 6, women A, man 7, man 1, woman B, man 2, man 3, etc. The spot where woman C should have been will NOT be an automatic out.
- If the male:female ratio is less than 2:1, then the batting order will be static (does not change). For example, if a team has 6 men and 4 women, then an order could be: man 1, man 2, woman A, man 3, man 4, woman B, man 5, woman C, man 6, woman D, man 1, man 2, woman A, etc. Please note that this is a hypothetical order. Teams can have women bat back-to-back if they wish, as long as 3 men do not bat in a row and they keep the order the same throughout the game.
- Teams may not have players dedicated to offence or defence; that is, players must both bat and field in order to be an eligible member of the roster for that game. A player may not play ONLY defence or ONLY offence; they need to play both. A minimum of two female players must take the field defensively every inning. Should a team only have the minimum of two female players fielding that team must play a player down in the outfield defensively (i.e 8 players fielding max) (Updated May 16th, 2018)
- Mercy rule: If a team is up by 15 runs or more after the 5th inning of play, the losing team has the option of calling the game or choosing to continue.
- A team can only score a maximum of eight (8) runs in one inning.
- EXCEPTION: A team has no run limit in the final inning of the game.
- There are no leadoffs for base runners; you must wait until contact with the ball is made first. Base runners that leadoff should be given a verbal warning. Any future leadoffs in the same game by the same player is an automatic out.
- The Infield Fly Rule (IFR): IFR is in effect when there are runners on first and second, or if the bases are loaded with less than two out. In these situations, if a fair pop-up is hit that, in the pitcher's judgment is catchable by an infielder with ordinary effort, the batter is out regardless of whether the ball is actually caught in flight. To invoke the rule, the pitcher must loudly announce, "Infield fly" when there is a pop-up in the infield. If this occurs, the batter will automatically be out, even if the ball is not caught. Runners can attempt to tag up on any caught ball or attempt to advance if the ball is dropped (although the force place is removed since the batter is out).
- IFR does not apply to line-outs or fly balls in the outfield.
- IFR does not apply to foul balls.
- If the pitcher does not announce "Infield fly, "then the play is live with no IFR."
- An outfielder is permitted to throw the ball to first base.
- Foul ball calls should be made by the catcher. Close "out" or "safe" calls at 1st base and 3rd base are to be made by "base-coaches" - i.e. extra players on the offensive team. Close "out" or "safe" calls at 2nd base and home are to be made by the pitcher. Teams should do their best to ensure that base coaches are being used. If base-coaches are not being used, all close calls should be made by the pitcher. Please do your best to ensure that the game is being called in a fair manner.
- A 'foul ball' pop-up behind home plate can only be caught for an out if it goes higher than 3 metres (10 feet). A ball not exceeding this desired height is considered a 'strike'.
- A base runner who is hit by a batted ball in fair territory is declared out for interference. This ruling stands even if the base runner is in contact with a base (the base is not a safe haven and is in fair territory). Any other runners on base at the time interference is called must return to their base. In addition, the batter is awarded first base, as long as the interfering runner is not the third out of the inning.
- Please Note: if a ball is deflected off an infielder and hits a baserunner, the ball is live and play continues until the play is dead.
- A runner is not out if they are touched by an infield fly, so long as they are in contact with a base
- If a fair batted ball touches two runners, only the first runner is out, as the ball is dead as soon as it touches the first runner
- A runner is not out if an infielder makes a play on the ball and misplays it prior to the ball hitting the runner. This includes: intentionally or unintentionally allowing a ball to pass by, a deflection of any kind of an infielder prior to hitting the runner (NOTE: This does not include the pitcher)
- The "home" team will be determined by a coin toss (rock - paper - scissors is welcome as well). In the Playoffs, the home team will be the higher-placed team in the regular season standings.
- Pinch Runners: If a player is injured but would still like to bat, a pinch runner may be used. The pinch runner must be the most recent player of the same gender who was recorded as out. The batter must still make his/her own way to first base, and if he/she goes to second or third base, then a pinch runner may not be used (Exception: if there is an error that results in an automatic extra base (i.e. ball goes out of play) then the batter may take the extra base and still use a pinch runner). Please note that this rule is meant for legitimately injured players, and should not be taken advantage of.
- Outfielders must not encroach within 6m (20 feet) of the baselines (the baselines spanning 1st and 2nd or spanning 2nd and 3rd) while the ball is being pitched to a batter. As soon as the ball is batted, outfielders may move anywhere on the field in reaction to a play (i.e. they may move towards the infield). The Rover may position themselves in the infield if they choose to.
- Only one infielder may encroach from the baseline before the ball is batted to a maximum of 5 feet in front of the baseline. All other infielders must remain on or behind the baseline until the ball is hit.
- Basepaths: If a fielder is not involved in the play, they must not be in the way of the baserunner. So, if the ball is not near a fielder or is obviously not going to be thrown to them, they may not obstruct a baserunner by standing on a base or in the basepath. Conversely, if a fielder is attempting to field the ball, a baserunner may not interfere with the fielder
- Home Run limit for diamonds with home run fences: there is a maximum of 2 home runs per team per inning. If a team that hits 2 home runs in an inning hits another home run, then that batter is out. This rule does not apply to diamonds without a home run fence, so if a player runs out a home run (i.e. the ball is fieldable) then that does not count towards this limit. NOTE: If ground rules are set by both captains before the game that enforces an automatic home run, similar to a homerun fence (e.g. if the ball flies into the trees and is not fieldable, it is an automatic home run), the 2 home run per team per inning maximum will apply. Any subsequent automatic homerun will result in the batter being called out.
Regular Season Matches
All regular season matches can end in a tie.
Playoffs Eligibility and Tiebreak
There must be a winner in a playoff match. In the event that the match ends in a tie, teams will partake in the following tie-breaker until a winner is determined:
For playoffs, if a game is tied after 7 innings or 75 minutes, teams will utilize the following format: The visiting team will start the inning by placing the last out from the previous inning on second base with one (1) out. Once 3 outs have been reached, the home team will then place their last out from the previous inning on second base, also with one (1) out, and proceed to bat until 3 outs is reached. Teams will take turns doing this until the score is settled upon the completion of a full inning. This format is continued until the tie is broken.
Any rough or physical play will result in immediate expulsion from further league play and may result in a lifetime league expulsion. Please see the JAM policy sheet for our official policy on this subject. It is recognized that incidental contact between players is inevitable; however, all players should go out of their way to avoid creating an unsafe play. This rule supersedes all others.
There are absolutely no alcoholic beverages permitted on JAM property. Any offenders will be asked to leave the league without refund. No exceptions.