What is an Illegal Pitch in Fastpitch Softball?

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In softball, the pitcher is arguably the most important position. The key to winning a game is often a strong pitching effort. The pitcher is not only the most crucial position, but it is also the most difficult to play.

Learning proper pitching techniques is difficult, and perfecting a pitch’s mechanics may need years of work.

In addition to all of that, softball throwing is governed by some rather tight laws. This is especially true for the game’s fastpitch variation.

The pitching rulebook is somewhat extensive, and a sizable portion of it is devoted to prohibited pitches.

Fans frequently find pitching regulations to be overly convoluted, and there is much misunderstanding regarding what an illegal pitch is.

I’ll go into more detail about this subject below, define what an unlawful pitch in fastpitch softball is, and give examples of some of the most typical illegal pitches.

So let’s get started!


What Are Different Illegal Pitches In Fastpitch Softball?

Crow hopping, re-planting, stepping outside the throwing lane, a pitcher’s back toe losing contact with the rubber, and a younger pitcher failing to present hands apart when stepping onto the rubber are the five most frequently called illegal pitches in softball. Look below:

  • Crow Hopping:  Possibly the most frequent illegal pitch in softball is the crow hop. When a pitcher crow hops in the middle of a pitch, both feet are off the ground. Leap or jump is another word for a crow hop. Emphasizing weight distribution on the rear foot and ensuring that it remains in contact with the ground during the drag and finish are two simple ways to prevent crow hopping.
  • Re-Planting: Although it is less often than the crow hop when it comes to unlawful pitching, the pitcher re-plant is nonetheless creating waves. When the pitcher starts her drag, stops it, and then resumes it throughout her pitch, this is known as re-planting. Re-plants are less frequently called out than crow hopping since they are tougher for umpires to spot. Uncertain whether to replant? Examine your drag. You are re-planting if you observe your drag starting, stopping, and then continuing.
  • Stepping outside the pitching lane: This unlawful pitch is ridiculous because so few pitchers are even aware of this restriction. Stepping outside the pitching lane. Pitchers, please note that there is a designated pitching lane that you must stay inside while delivering your pitch. This rule shouldn’t even exist in my opinion unless the pitching lane is marked out in chalk before each game as a guideline. Regardless of opinion, the lane is the pitching mound’s width. The behind-the-plate umpire may declare a pitch to be illegal if a pitcher ventures too far from the lane. Rarely does this occur because most behind-the-plate umpires pay attention to the pitch coming in rather than the lane regulation, especially if one isn’t drawn in the first place?
  • Back-toe losing contact with the rubber: The pitching rule book stipulates that until the pitcher starts moving forward, both feet must remain in touch with the rubber. The back toe of a pitcher may occasionally nudge backward and lose contact with the rubber when loading into their legs. If a first base umpire observes this, he or she may declare the pitcher’s pitch to be illegal. Keep both feet together until you advance through your pitch to entirely avoid this.
  • Failure to show hands apart: This error is typical among pitchers at the younger levels and is undoubtedly the most frequent for them. Fortunately, the majority of officials at lower levels will issue warnings to pitchers rather than calling an illegal pitch. It is required that both hands be separated as a pitcher enters the pitching rubber. The hands must be apart until the pitcher receives the signal from the catcher, regardless of whether the ball is in the pitcher’s hand or in the glove. The pitcher can then start her pre-motion before throwing the pitch after the hands have come together. The more you do this, the more it will become second nature.


What is the Penalty for an Illegal Pitch in Fastpitch Softball?

The NCAA and NFHS have uniform punishments for illegal pitches. For high school games, the penalties have recently altered.

After an illegal pitch, base runners were given an automatic base under the prior regulation. This law has been modified. Any unlawful pitches made with runners on base only result in the batter receiving a ball. The hitter advances to first base if the unlawful pitch is determined to be ball four. If a runner is on, they only move forward if it is forced.

In the NCAA, unsportsmanlike pitches award runners a free base and add a ball to the batter’s count. In collegiate softball games, umpires rarely flag illegal pitches, so these sanctions rarely have an impact on the game.

Before the umpire can declare the ball dead, batters will occasionally hit illegal pitches. The batter may remain at first base if the pitch allowed him to get there safely. The batter is given a hit in the scorebook after the illegal pitch call is overturned.


Can You Hit an Illegal Pitch in Softball?

The batter may hit and put the ball in play if it is still live following an unlawful pitch.

The batter is permitted to remain on first base in the event that they hit the ball and reach it. The bases are also given to the other runners who made it further.

The offensive team’s coach has the option of accepting the fine for the unlawful pitch or rejecting it and calling the play as it was.

After the play is over, this needs to be done right away.

The play continues despite the unlawful pitch when the ball is struck and the hitter gets to first base while all the other runners have moved on.



In fastpitch softball, illegal pitches typically occur as a result of undesirable habits that players have formed while learning the game and have become normal.

Because of this, it’s critical to have coaches who are knowledgeable on the, somewhat enigmatic, laws governing unlawful pitching.

In this sense, they can aid in the players’ understanding and learning of the legal pitch’s motions and mechanics.

Bad habits formed early in a softball career are particularly challenging to break later.

Fortunately, most umpires are aware of this and would probably merely issue a warning to the pitcher rather than the punishment that could change the result of a baseball game.

Clark Harris

Clark Harris

"I live and breath Softball"

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