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In Cal-UCLA championship softball game umpire called interference on Cal catcher allowing UCLA's 3rd run. It sure looked to me like the Cal catcher had an opportunity to tag the runner out and had every right to block the plate. It also looked like there was room for the runner to slide between the catcher's legs and touch home plate easily so I didn't think she was really blocking the plate. I don't know the ins and outs of plate obstruction and have an 11 year old catcher of my own. Anyone else have thoughts about that play or can educate me?
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OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner. If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered "in the act of fielding a ball." It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball.

Poor judgement! I bet the ump got reamed for that one!
I did not see the play, however it must have been quite controversial, as I received a call at home from a local softball mom, wondering about the rule and that very night a few parents of a girls softball game being held at the same complex I was umpiring at, stopped my partner and I to discuss it.

As was correctly stated before, calling this obstruction is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. Seems like a lot of people didnt see it the way that umpire did.
Last edited by piaa_ump
Doesn't fielding a ball in this instance refer to directly fielding a batted ball?

Trying to apply common sense logic, just because you are receiving a ball in a rundown, it does not give you the right to impede the runner.

As relating to these instances, is there anywhere in the rule book that differentiates the opportunity for the defense to impede the runner based on the defensive person's proximity to the base or the nearness of the ball to the recipient?

If not it sounds like the umpire made a gutsy correct call.

Seems pretty simple. If a catcher has the ball he can block the base. If he doesn't, no matter how soon he is to receive it, he can't. Kind of like you're either pregnant or you can't.

I'm a long time player and not an umpire. Umpires tell me where I'm wrong.
Originally posted by SBK:
Seems pretty simple. If a catcher has the ball he can block the base. If he doesn't, no matter how soon he is to receive it, he can't.

I have a tough time believing that. Suppose a first baseman has to reach into the baseline to catch a ball, and hits the runner in the act of catching the ball. Would you call interferance there? If the catcher is in the process of receiving the ball, and must occupy the position he or she is in order to catch the ball, then there cannot be interferance from what I understand.
If an umpire has no problem with a player blocking a bag while just waiting to receive a thrown ball, you may as well tell your first baseman to straddle the bag instead of assuming what most people and professionals consider the proper positioning.

As the ball is delivered, the first baseman can just kneel or lie in front of the bag and keep the base runner from being able to touch it.

One problem with the rules as I understand them is that they seem more suitable for the pro game where running over catchers can be permitted.

Question: For those that think the defense should be able to block the bag and the base path while “receiving” the ball. Is it OK if the runner just plows into the defender if he makes contact before the defender has the ball?

Of course in many leagues the runner would be called out automatically and maybe even ejected.

So what's a runner to do if the defender is blocking the base without yet having the ball? Slow down and tip-toe around them?

It takes a gutsy call from an umpire to make a call penalizing the defense for blocking the bag.
Doesn't appear that anyone knows the ASA rules. You can do this in baseball, but no longer in softball.

2004 ASA rule changes:

Rule 8, Sec. 5B: The change removed the words “or no about to receive a thrown ball” from the obstruction rule, so it now reads:

B. When a fielder not in possession of the ball, or not in the act of fielding a batted ball impedes the progress of a runner or batter-runner who is legally running the bases.

COMMENTS: Removing “about to receive a thrown ball” will not allow players to block a base or home plate without the ball. As one coach so
aptly stated, after this ruling was approved, Rather than teach to block the base, catch the ball, and then apply the tag, I will now
have to teach to catch the ball, block the base and then apply the tag. Obstruction should be ruled if the fielder blocks the base without the ball.

Still comes down to the judgment of the man wearing the funny hat.

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