The appeal process can be an effective part of the softball game when used. I have seen a world championship won following a batting out-of-order. I have seen a national championship won after a runner was called out for missing a base. I have seen several league games won because players left a base too soon and a proper appeal stopped a rally. I have even seen a run removed and a fourth out called as a result of a proper appeal.


Appeals are normally made when a runner misses a base while advancing or returning, or for leaving a base too soon on a caught fly ball. Other types of appeals are a batter-runner attempting to move toward second base after overrunning first base and batting out-of-order.


OVER-RUNNING FIRST BASE: The batter-runner can legally return to first base as long as no attempt is made to advance to second base after overrunning or over sliding first base. The batter-runner can actually turn to the left or the right when returning to first base. The violation occurs when the batter-runner makes any movement attempting to advance to second base and this movement could be made in fair or foul territory after overrunning.


PLAY: The batter-runner (b3) advances past first base approximately 15 feet and turns right into foul territory when the ball is overthrown and the past first base player. B3 makes a movement towards second while in foul territory and then sees the catcher backing up the play, so then walks back to first base. The catcher throws the ball to the first baseman, who (a) tags B3 before reaching first base, (b) tags B3 after reaching the base, or (c) tags the base prior to B3 returning. 



In (a) B3 is out, but B3 is not out in (b) or (c). (ISF Rule 8, Section 9i).


WHEN CAN APPEALS BE MADE? Appeals can be made any time until the next pitch (legal or illegal) has been thrown, or until the pitcher and all infielders have crossed the foul line on the way to the bench.


PLAY: R2 on second base and R1 on first base with two outs when B3 hits a single to center field. R2 scores, but misses third base. R1 advances to third. B3 advances to second base on the throw to the plate. One pitch is thrown to B4 when the manager of the defensive team (a) yells to the umpire that R2 missed third base, or (b) yells to the third baseman to appeal R2 for missing third. The third baseman makes the appeal. 


RULING: In either situation, R2 is safe and the run counts. An appeal cannot be made after a pitch has been thrown to the next batter. Appeals can be requested by a manager, coach, or player of the defensive team.


PLAY : Same play as above, however B3 is thrown out sliding into second base for the third out. After all defensive fielders are in the dugout, the manager appeals to the plate umpire that R2 missed third base. 


RULING: This would have been a legal appeal and would have removed R2’s run, had one fielder still been stationed on the infield when the appeal was made. Since all fielders had crossed the foul line, the appeal cannot be accepted by the umpire.

LIVE BALL APPEAL PROCESS: During a live ball, there are two ways to make the appeal: (1) touching the base that was missed or the runner left from too soon, or (2) touching the runner if he/she is still on the field. After touching either, notify the umpire what the violation was, and the umpire will then make a decision. Naturally, if the runner has entered the dugout or left the field of play, the defenders need only touch the base.


Base runners can advance during the live ball appeal process and because of this, it is sometimes best to touch the runner rather than the base, providing the runner is still on the field. Confusion exists sometimes after runners advance, and the defensive team does not realize they can still make an appeal.


PLAY : R1 is on first base and advances to third base on a base hit by B2. The ball is returned to the pitcher when the manager yells to the pitcher to appeal R1 for missing second base. The pitcher throws to the shortstop covering second. When the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, R1 takes off for home. Without touching second, the shortstop throws home. R1 slides safely under the catcher’s tag. Can the defensive team throw the ball back to second base and still make the appeal?


RULING: Yes. Remember, an appeal can be made anytime until the next pitch is thrown. If the defensive team returns the ball to second base and touches the base, the umpire will make the safe or out call on the appeal.

Merle Butler is the ISF’s Director of Umpires and a member of the ISF Hall of Fame.

(This article appeared in the May-Aug. 2005 issue of World Softball magazine, Volume 33, Number 2.)