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Slow Pitch Strike Zone

Posted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:17 pm
by sixofdiamonds
It seems what constitutes the slow-pitch strike zone needs to be revisited every so often for both league members AND umpires. As well, I want to offer the following reminder. Arguing balls and strikes can be grounds for an immediate ejection.

Below is a visual depiction of the moving strike zone in slow-pitch softball.


As you can see, the strike zone will vary with the height of the pitch as well as the height of the batter. Where the batter stands in the box has no bearing on the strike zone. ASA rules define the zone as front knee/back shoulder while the batter is standing adjacent to the plate. If a batter is not standing adjacent to the plate, the umpire must make a mental adjustment by taking the size of the batter and visualizing him/her adjacent to the plate.

If everyone were the same size and always stood adjacent to the plate, calling balls and strikes could easily become mechanical. That, however, is not the case.

As seen below, two pitches could land in the exact same spot behind the plate with one being a strike and the other being a ball (known as 'over the top').


If any part of the ball crosses any white portion of the plate, it is a strike. As you can plainly see in the drawing below, a pitch can land in an area wide of the plate (or mat if one is used) and still be a legitimate strike.


The ground has no impact on the strike zone. Batters that point to the ground as a reference point are clueless as to what constitutes the slow-pitch strike zone. Umpires that point to the ground and use that as a reference point for the call are either uninitiated or lazy and are doing nothing more than perpetuating the players' inaccurate belief of what constitutes a ball or a strike. Unfortunately, umpires who call the zone correctly usually take more heat than those who do not.

Umpires that work SBA games are asked to kindly refrain from the practice of ground-pointing.

Let's also set the record straight with respect to the black edge of home plate. A ball that crosses over the black edge of home plate is NOT a strike as many may think. This black edge is what holds the white portion in place and should technically reside out of sight beneath the playing surface.

Home plate dimensions are as follows...

The longest section that is parallel to the plate for the pitcher is 17 inches wide. The two short sides that are parallel to the batters box are 8.5 inches long. The two angled sides that come to a point toward the catcher is are 12 inches long. The black border around home plate is not a part of these measurements.

Each year, umpires are required to attend a pre-season umpire meetings. One of my goals is to get every umpire on the same page - not only with respect to balls and strikes, but ALL the aspects of umpiring in our league. While I don't expect, and really don't want, every umpire to call a 'cookie-cutter' game, I do want each and every umpire to completely understand the underlying concept of certain rules - strike zone and slide or surrender to name only 2. Each and every umpire will call their game their own way and as they see fit. As long as their game falls within the guidelines as set forth by the ASA and Softball America, I will be one happy camper.

Point of info; take it for what it's worth...

Learning each umpire's tendencies will go a long way in making you a better pitcher and/or hitter. As well, your blood pressure will lower, your enjoyment level will rise and you'll develop a much better appreciation for this great game.