|Being Alert Can Yield Appealing Results
By: John Bennett - Longtime Umpire
Originally Published in Fastpitch Delivery
Appeal plays offer this opportunity. Batting out of order is the most confusing of all appeal plays, so I will discuss it separately in next month’s column.
For now, let’s dig a little further into some of the advantages you may gain through other appeal plays. Before you read this column, take this pre-column quiz:
1. What exactly is an appeal play (how is it defined in the rule book)?
The first step to taking advantage of an appeal play is to understand what an appeal play is. Put simply, an appeal play is a play or rule violation for which the umpire does not make a ruling until requested by a coach or a player. There are at least four appeal plays for all codes:
• Batting out of order (NCAA includes this with the Improper Player rule)
There is a fifth appeal in NCAA - switching base runners on occupied bases (for example, after an offensive conference and the runners go to the wrong base). In ASA, NFHS and USSSA the umpire can notice and rule on this "illegal switching of bases" without an appeal.
Here are some situations that require an appeal, and how the defense can get a competitive advantage by knowing the rules.
1. Missing a base. A coach probably has other responsibilities during playing action or may get caught up watching the play, so have someone assigned to:
• Watch each runner touch her bases as she advances OR
This could be a fielder who is not involved with the play or specific dugout players. I have witnessed many runners missing a base and it was not appealed. The defense has lost the opportunity to get an easy out. And quite often that runner scores. The appeal would have negated that run.
2. Leaving a base on a caught fly ball before the batted ball is first touched.
• Many people do not know that this is an appeal play
So somebody should be watching this batter. This is a live-ball appeal only, and the batter-runner must be tagged out while off the base. The defense cannot just tag first base after the attempt. If they tag the batter-runner after she is safely back on first base, it’s too late.
As a bonus for reading this article, here is an additional fact about an appeal play and a little-known fact about the so-called "ground rule double."
It is an appeal play when a defensive player catches a line drive and doubles off a runner. This is not a force play - it is a live-ball appeal.
The umpire will rule on this immediately, because the actions of the defense have made it obvious that the defense is appealing that the runner left the base before the fielder first touched the caught line drive (treated the same as a fly ball).
When a batter hits a fair ball which goes over the fence on a bounce, this is not a "ground rule double."
Every rulebook states that this action (a fair batted ball bounces over a fence or enters dead ball territory) is a two-base award.
A true ground rule double would be for a situation like this to occur: A large sinkhole has appeared in left-center field so the home team has drawn a line around this hole and declared, as a ground rule for that day — if a batted ball goes into that sinkhole, it will be declared a double.
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE OCTOBER 2014 EDITION OF THE NFCA’S