Like any other competitive sport, softball has general laws (equipment, playing area etc.), and specific rules that apply to the game while in play. The general rules are covered elsewhere in this website, so this article is going to delve into the specific in-play guidelines.
The game kicks off with one team pitching, and the other team batting. The team at bat is regarded as the offensive team, as it is on a mission to score points by making runs. The pitching team is the defensive team, although logic dictates otherwise.
The team that bats first is generally picked using a coin tossed by the umpire and two captains. However, alterations may be made, such that a pre-game decision requires the home team to bat last.
Once the umpire calls ‘play ball,’ the pitcher attempts to lunge the ball past the batter who blocks the pitcher’s view of the catcher. Rules demand that the pitch is made using an underarm movement and with elbow at a level in the area of the hip.
The umpire looks out to ensure that the ball is thrown using the correct motion and that no dummying is done. Deception and curve throwing is allowed, so long as it is done with the correct hand movement.
As the defensive team pitches, the offensive team should always have one batter positioned at the plate trying to hit the throw towards a direction close to his or her side. Teams are required to maintain the same order of hitters throughout the game, with substitutes batting at the turn of the players they replace.
In a mixed-gender game, there should be an alternation between male and female batters throughout the game.
The batter should always hold the bat with both hands and above his or her shoulders, facing away from the pitcher, thus hitting the ball with a 360-degree swinging motion.