Kitchener Waterloo Masters Slo-pitch League
2023 League Rules SPO Handbook Facility Use Agreement
  Umpire's Corner
Questions and Answers about the rules with Paul Del Net

The order of precedence for the rules we use are:
 - Special league rules that supersede those of SPO.
 - If not modified by our bylaws the SPO Handbook should be used.
 - Many rules are not specifically listed in the SPO hand book but can be found in the Softball  Canada rule book, found here:

There was question about a batted ball that is deflected over the homerun fence by a defensive player (before the ball touched the ground)

Home Run Rule

The SPO rule reads as follows.Page 38 of the 2018-2019 SPO handbook.

Any ball touched by a defensive player which then goes over the fence in fair territory shall be a four base award and not considered a home run.

Pitching Screen

There was a dicussion at the spring captains meeting about the location of the pitching screen. I was asked to give a diagram that describes what we agreed on.

 Below are the dimensions of the playing field that we use. There is more information here than we talked about but still worth noting.

 The home plate area consists of, home plate, the wood board and the batters boxes. Although we don’t mark batters boxes the general dimesions are still good to know.


Although the official dimensions in slo-pitch have the start of the pitching zone 50’ from point 1 of home plate, the diamonds we play on have a mound in the ground. So we use this as the start of the pitching zone.

 The pitching zone is a rectangle that is 2 feet wide and 10 feet long. The picture below shows a pitching screen that is set up for a left handed pitcher.

 The object of this is to ensure the screen is used only as protection for the pitcher and not offer any addition defensive coverage. The screen may not have its right edge past (any further to the left) of an imaginary line drawn from point 1 of home plate to the centre of second base, the same rules apply for a right handed pitcher with the screen on the other side.

 Based on the rules for pitching the pitcher must have 1 foot ( the plant foot) inside the pitching zone at the time of release of the ball.

The screen is also no more than 12” in front of the mound.



Click on either diagram to see a larger version.


 Tags at Home Plate  & Runner Touching Home Plate

I have been asked by a player about whether a runner may be tagged between the commitment line and home plate.
The answer is yes, I have been in touch with SPO to find where this is printed in the rules but it is not specifically described in that way.
Here is the response from SPO:
Yes you can tag between the lines, it is not stated in the handbook. It is the same as tagging between the bases that is not stated in the handbook either. Tagging is allowed anywhere.
This also brings up a question not asked but can happen as a result of the ability of a defensive player at home plate attempting to catch a thrown ball that is off line to make an attempt to tag the runner coming home.
As a general rule if you touch home you are out. The purpose of this rule is to protect all players from injury caused by collision. There is however an instance where a runner is allowed to touch home plate - if it is to avoid a collision. This should not be confused with an attempt to avoid a tag. The line the runner describes when running home is the line he must maintain.
If a play is close and a collision is imminent the runner may change their line and touch home only in an attempt to prevent a collision.

Award of bases on overthrow.
 The common misconception with this rule is the old rule of “one plus one,” a rule that was changed long ago. The correct ruling is that when a thrown ball goes out of play (beyond the established boundary lines of the playing field)
all runners, including the batter-runner shall be awarded two bases from the last base legally touched based on their position at the time that the thrown ball left the fielder’s hand

if there are two runners between the same bases, the award is based on the position of the lead runner.

Keys to remember with this rule:

The award is based on their position at the time the throw was made, not at the time that the ball went out of play - watch for that very long overthrow from the outfield

The award is two bases from the last base legally touched - if a runner is returning to first base to tag up on a fly ball, they will still be awarded two bases which is second base and third base as the last base that they had legally touched was first base

The proper mechanics for this situation are to call “Dead Ball” as soon as the ball goes out of play then award the bases accordingly. Your award should be swift and decisive.

With multiple runners or a long overthrow, if you have any doubt consult with your fellow Umpire(s) immediately before the award and get it right the first time.

Updated home run league rule (to conform more closely with SPO):

home run "trot": SPO rules allow for not having to run the bases if a ball is hit over the outfield fence for a home run. In our league, the choice should be the batter’s: if someone hits a home run and it is not a regular occurrence, they should be able to run the bases (and enjoy it!). Conversely, if you don’t want to, SPO rules say the batter and any runners do not need to run the bases but go directly to their team area. 

Playing Field

Some notes on the slo-pitch playing field:

Bases are 70 feet apart (all divisions). Doesn’t apply to our league, actual diamond dimensions used will not allow this.

Pitching distance is 50 - 60 feet.

Pitching Box is 2 feet wide by 10 feet long. Its front edge shall be in a line between home plate and second base and 50 feet from the back corner of home plate.

Batter’s box is 7 feet by 3 feet.

Double base shall be used at first base.

Coaches' Box is 15 feet by 5 feet and 12 feet back from the foul line.

Strike Mat / Home Plate:  A 2 feet by 3 feet mat.