Greg Johnson, Associate Director of Communications
INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA Softball Rules Committee, which met virtually last week, proposed implementing video review and allowing coaches to have two video review challenges beginning in the 2021-22 academic year.
There would be no requirement to use the video review rule, but if approved, it would be optional for all schools, conferences and tournaments to implement.
All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss softball recommendations Aug. 12.
Over the past few years, conferences have experimented with video review in conference tournament games, including the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern and Sun Belt conferences during the recently completed 2021 season. Rules committee members have received positive feedback about the experimental rule and are recommending that video review become a permanent aspect of the game.
Under the proposal, each head coach would have two challenges to initiate a review for the entirety of the game. A coach must verbally or visually indicate a challenge request before the next pitch, before the pitcher and all infielders have clearly vacated their normal fielding position and left fair territory, or before the umpires have left the field of play.
The umpire crew chief also has the discretion to initiate a review of designated plays beginning with the sixth inning of a game.
The following plays can be subject to review via initiation by the crew chief or via a head coach’s challenge:
The following criteria would be used in games using video review:
Team conferences during play
With thoughts of increasing pace and flow of the game, the committee proposed allowing a total of seven charged coach-to-player conferences to occur during a game, beginning with the 2022 season.
Teams would be allowed a maximum of one per half inning. An additional defensive conference would be allowed for each pitching change if that pitcher has not already pitched in the half inning, which would count toward one of the seven allowable conferences.
In addition, teams would be allowed seven charged player-to-player conferences per game with a maximum of two per half inning.
Time between innings
To further improve the pace and flow of the game, the committee recommended a standard time between innings — 90 seconds — for all games (media or nonmedia) and allowing pitchers to throw any number of warmup pitches during this time.
Hitter’s out of the batter’s box
Committee members recommended that if the umpire rules a hitter is out of the batter’s box at the moment of bat-ball contact, the play would become a dead ball immediately, and a strike would be added to the count. With two strikes, the batter would be declared out, and all runners would return to the base they legally occupied at the time of the pitch.