Play at home plate

Discussion in 'The Umpires Life and Rulings' started by josie, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. josie

    josie Member

    seeking clarification. 12u
    Catcher takes a throw from the shortstop on a relay from outfielder. She has the ball and tags the runner out at home (who did not slide - or try to avoid contact with the catcher). Home plate umpire calls the runner out. He is standing between home plate and the pitchers mound, IMO had a good view of the play.
    Offensive Coach appeals, field umpire over rules and calls the runner safe due to catcher obstruction. Catcher was not on the plate until there was a throw home.

    Just trying to understand why this was called the way it was. ASA sanctioned tourney. I'm the parent of a catcher so trying to help 12u daughter understand this call (she was not the catcher involved)

    Thank you softball zone community!
  2. BretMan2

    BretMan2 TSZ/OFC Umpire in Chief

    There's all sorts of wrong here...

    You say that "the catcher was not on the plate until there was a throw home". So...was the catcher standing on the plate BEFORE she had possession of the ball? Then we do have a potential obstruction.

    Was the runner impeded in any way BEFORE the catcher had possession of the ball? If so, then this would be obstruction. But, if the runner wasn't impeded, it's not obstruction. You need two elements for an obstruction call: a fielder without possession of the ball blocking the runner's path AND for the runner to actually be impeded in some way. "Impeded" might include slowing down, stopping, going around the fielder, being bumped into by the fielder.

    After the fielder has the ball, she can block the plate all she wants. Basically, when the fielder doesn't have the ball the runner has the right of way, but the when the fielder has the ball she has the right of way.

    Taking off my umpire hat and putting on my coach's hat for a minute...Teach your catcher to set up just in front of the plate to receive the throw, then drop back into the base line AFTER she gets the ball.

    As far as the runner making contact with the fielder, it's not necessarily illegal and the runner isn't necessarily out.

    If the ball, the runner, and the fielder all get to the same spot, at the same time, any contact may be ruled as incidental.

    What is illegal for the runner is if the fielder already has possession of the ball and is waiting to make a tag, then the runner can't crash into the fielder. If she does it's interference and she is out. If the contact is judged as flagrant, then she is also ejected.

    I'm not sure why an umpire would call this an out, then change it to obstruction. If he was right there and saw it, why didn't he call obstruction in the first place? And even if it was obstruction, if the runner subsequently committed an act of interference (crashing the fielder), then the interference takes precedence and is enforced.

    It sounds like maybe you had an inexperienced umpire or crew for your game.
  3. josie

    josie Member

    Thank you so much for responding, I agree, the crew seemed inexperience, although the home plate umpire looked a little "seasoned"....I do understand obstruction better now...IMO this was I will explain to DD what to do in that situation when she is catching.

    Thank you, I enjoy your posts.
  4. Stedman00

    Stedman00 Active Member

    we had similar play this weekend. catcher set up essentially in right handed batters box, on the foul line, ball is still incoming.

    CLEARLY the base runner was forced to try and alter path to plate. NO obstruction called. thankfully no one was hurt in the collision, but it was text book example of the exact play that is obstruction.
  5. mamoneyoh

    mamoneyoh Member

    BretMan2 - I have a question for you.....A runner is running from second to third. The ball is hit and the runner jumps over the ball. The runner was called out for obstructing the view of the shortstop. There was no contact and when the umpire came back on our side he said that you cannot obstruct the view of a defensive player.
  6. OhPhat

    OhPhat Active Member

    I have a question on this as well. We had issue a few weeks back where catcher without ball is in third base side of plate with legs apart and when ask if it was obstruction home plate umpire stated no as there was a path between the girls legs prior to ball arriving. Baserunner slows down to avoid collision (yes should have just kept going hard and slid) and is tagged out. My understanding was without the ball the fielder cannot impede or force a change in the runners path thus to me this is happening in this scenario as well thus should be obstruction?
  7. Stedman00

    Stedman00 Active Member

    The ump is wrong, path thru her legs> Seriously? The definition as I understand it, is the catcher cannot in any way impede, or force to alter runners's path to the plate. (And it's the path that the runner is on, not the foul line or where they could run.) Unless they have the ball of course, then block away. And it applies to the act of catching the ball as well.

    I believe that you sir, were screwed by the blue in this instance as described.
    OhPhat likes this.
  8. BretMan2

    BretMan2 TSZ/OFC Umpire in Chief

    Just jumping over the ball alone isn't illegal. Nor is running in a straight line to the next base.

    But...the runner still has to yield any space needed for the fielder to field a batted ball. This might or might not be interference depending on a few thing.

    - If the runner purposely stopped in front of the fielder, or slowed down and timed it so that she would pass directly in front of the fielder when the ball got there, then it could be interference.

    - If the runner passes so closely to the fielder, right at the same instant the ball gets there, exceedingly close to the space that the fielder needs to normally field the ball, then that might be interference.

    - If the fielder was charging the ball, then had to check up because the runner was in the way, then that could be interference.

    - If the fielder was playing back, waiting for the ball to get to her and not charging in, then this probably isn't interference.

    You'll notice that I said "probably isn't" or "might be" interference. That's because you really have to see these plays and judge them on their own merit. But, no, the mere fact that the runner jumped over the ball in front of the fielder doesn't automatically equal interference and neither does just passing in front of the fielder. When fielding a batted ball, the fielder has the right of way 100% and the runner has to give them enough room and opportunity to do that.
    OhPhat likes this.
  9. BretMan2

    BretMan2 TSZ/OFC Umpire in Chief

    With respect to obstruction, the fielder doesn't get to define the runner's path. That is, saying that "a little bit of the base is open", or "the part between the fielder's legs is open" is NOT a valid argument.

    The runner gets to choose the path they want to take to the base, not the one dictated by the defense. A fielder straddling a base could very well be obstruction...IF the runner is subsequently impeded.
    OhPhat likes this.

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