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The Fastpitch Bulletin, Volume 18, Number 7 - 2/12/18

02/12/2018, 7:00pm CST
By Bob Tomlinson

Hello Fastpitch Folks,

Twenty –Eight days!

That’s March 12th, marking the official day of Wisconsin High School fastpitch softball.  On that day more than 400 schools will have their teams starting the season.

It promises to be an interesting one statewide. One question that always looms over the start of the high school season is: what kind of weather will you have in your area between now and the 12th of March?

Last year in Poynette we had an intersquad scrimmage outside on the first day, March 13th – on a field covered with about 10 inches of snow. We had a player from Guatemala who had a blast. As a matter of fact she told people that the first day of softball was one of the highlights of her year at Poynette High School. Our other foreign student was from Germany and had never heard of fastpitch softball either.

If things stay the way they look on our field today, we will be back out there diving for outfield fly balls and landing in the snow, diving for infield balls in snow and working on our base running ending with slides at various bases. Practicing on snow, in nylon pants makes for some great slides similar to what you see on artificial turf. Actually we got a tremendous amount of work done that day out there in the snow. For a look at what practice looked like that day from behind home plate, just go back to the home page of this website and scroll through the pictures, there is one of the practice there.

Each year all officials and all paid coaches must complete the 100-question softball rules exam and view the accompanying rules interpretation video (30 minutes and 30 slides according to the WIAA website). I read through all 100 earlier today and answered them all as I know them. There are some I will look up to be absolutely sure of but I’m very confident that if I were a WIAA softball umpire I would be ready to work a state championship game today. If one knows the rules and is an umpire then calling balls and strikes along with safe and out become the most difficult part of the job and that ought not be too hard either. I am also confident that any rules that I may need to discuss with officials during a game are all rules I am very familiar with. 

As I read through the rules exam today I caught myself shaking my head a few times over questions the NFHS chose to put on the test. I asked myself, “why put that question on the exam because there is not a single umpire in the state of Wisconsin who follows that rule anyway. Last year I had one umpire (a master level umpire) tell me that the rule I’m talking about does not exist. I wonder if any coaches can figure out which rule I am referring to without me having to tell you.

One rule we ought not have to discuss during a game, as I had to last year, centers around intentionally walking a batter. See, there really wasn’t a rule that covered intentionally walking a batter in fastpitch softball. Rule 2-Section 65-Article 2 in the 2017 rules book read thusly – Intentional Walk (Base on balls) (S.P.) A request made to the umpire my the defensive coach or catcher, for the purpose of awarding  he batter first. No pitches are thrown.

I have not picked up my 2018 Rules Book from my athletic director yet but I’ll bet that Rule 2-65-2 now covers both slow pitch and fastpitch.

Last year during a game where we were about to “pitch way, way outside to a batter” resulted in the umpire telling us that our catcher had to remain in her crouch and stay in the area between the batter’s boxes and directly behind home plate. Before the first pitch to that batter we were successful in proving to that umpire that he didn’t know all the rules.

“Are we playing by all the rules today?”

Most games are never played by all the rules. There are always a few that aren’t followed or aren't interpreted by an umpire on any given day.

I’ll tell you in an upcoming Bulletin about some the rules in the Rules Book that seldom get used and perhaps the rules writers ought to toss out so the book isn’t so long.

That’s enough about rules in this edition of The Fastpitch Softball Bulletin.

I’ll move on to coaching. No matter how much one thinks they know about this game, there are always things that can be learned or ways to do things more efficiently. One way to learn more and become more efficient is to talk to other successful coaches, especially successful ones. Another way is to talk to people who have played the game at an elite level.

On February 24-25 at Chula Vista Resort just north of Wisconsin Dells there will be an opportunity to do both of those things. The Annual Wisconsin Fastpitch Coaches Association coaching clinic will be held there on those two days. There will be successful coaches and elite level players speaking at the clinic. There will also be dozens and even hundreds of other successful coaches and elite level players attending who you can ferret out great ideas and information from. Not all of them will tell you their secrets to success but most will if asked. If you haven’t registered yet for the clinic and are interested in whom those speakers are just go to and check it all out and get in on the fun.

The Poynette Fastpitch Jamboree is May 4-5 this year. I will be posting a list of schools that have returned contracts for that event. We will be trying to cut back on the number of teams a bit so --- if you are planning on games in the Jamboree be sure to check out the list I post. If your school is not on there then you ought to get in touch with me instantly.

Have a great day and ---

Keep it Rising!


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