The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a new rule in softball allowing any player who is removed for a concussion evaluation to return to the game if cleared by medical personnel. This rule is effective for the 2020-21 academic year.
The NCAA Softball Rules Committee supported the proposal, which came from the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports.
Under the rule, the player undergoing concussion evaluation, whether a starter or a substitute, could be replaced by any eligible player who has not participated in the game.
If the injured player is cleared to resume participation, she may reenter in her original lineup position. The temporary replacement player may again participate in the game, but only in the same lineup spot, provided she is not otherwise ineligible (withdrawn substitute or a reentered starter). Should a team have no remaining eligible players, a starter or substitute who has previously participated in the game may replace the player removed for a concussion evaluation.
PROP also approved allowing conferences to continue to experiment with video review in regular-season conference games and conference tournament games.
Coaches will be allowed two video review challenges during a game. A challenge must be initiated verbally or visually before the next pitch; before the pitcher and all infielders have clearly vacated their normal positions in the field and left fair territory; or before the umpires have left the field of play. Additionally, coaches will have “about 30 seconds” to decide to lodge a challenge. Umpires will be allowed to initiate a video review from the sixth inning until the end of the game.
The following plays can be reviewed:
- Deciding whether a batted ball called fair is fair or foul.
- Deciding whether a batted ball called a ground-rule double or home run is fair or foul.
- Deciding whether a batted ball called foul that could result in a ground-rule double or home run is fair or foul.
- Deciding whether the ball left the field of play on home runs. Any ball higher than the top of the foul pole when it leaves the park would not be reviewable.
- Deciding on a foul tip/foul ball at the plate, including a dropped strike.
- Spectator interference.
- Deciding scoring plays at home plate, including collisions (illegal and/or malicious slides), obstruction by a defensive player or timing plays.
- All aspects of a timing/scoring play.
- Obstruction and interference at any base, only if the play in question results or would result in the third out of an inning and relates to a timing/scoring play.
- Malicious/flagrant contact: Umpires would be allowed to initiate this review without requiring a coach’s challenge at any point during the game for student-athlete safety reasons.
- Force/tag play calls: Plays involving all runners acquiring the base before the defensive player’s attempt to put the runner out at any base.
- Hit-by-pitch calls: Plays for which there is a possibility that a pitched ball touches a batter or her clothing, which shall incorporate a review of the ball in relation to the batter’s box, if it is determined upon review that the ball hit the batter or her clothing.
- Placement of runners: An umpire’s placement of all runners (per the rules/casebook) after any blocked ball call.
- A no-catch call: With runners on base, a no-catch call can be changed to a catch only if it results in a third out. With no runners on base, a no-catch call can be changed to a catch at any time.