At the WBSC conference in November, several changes to Europe’s softball rules were introduced for the 2018 season. The biggest changes are taking place in the pitcher’s circle for 2018.
First, there is now a time limit on a pitcher’s reset. From the moment the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher they have 20 seconds to begin their pitching motion.
Next there are some very specific rules relating to pitch wind-up and release including, but not limited to, the pivot foot’s contact with the plate, hand position and hold time during the pause, and the stepping foot’s role in the pitching motion.
Most important among them is that the pitch will now be considered to have started at the moment the pitcher separates their hands and that, the pitcher’s feet can only move forward once the pitch begins.
Once in motion the feet have new freedoms. The non-pivoting foot may move forward, in the direction of the batter only, as they release the ball. It will not be ruled a step if the pitcher maintains contact, with either foot, to the pitcher’s plate and there is no movement backwards off the plate.
The pivot foot must remain in contact with the pitcher’s plate, or push off and drag away from the pitcher’s plate, or be in the air prior to the stepping foot making contact with the ground.
The pitcher may leap from the pitcher’s plate, land and, with continuous motion, deliver the ball and the pivot foot may follow through the pitcher’s action.
Additional minor changes include the prohibition of alcohol, chewing tobacco, tobacco products and e-cigarettes to the list of items forbidden in the dugout.
Spectator interference rules were also added to the handbook while the rule on coaches wearing caps as part of their uniform was removed. Speaking of uniforms, women are now free to choose shorts or pants as part of their team attire.
For more explicit details on all the changes, visit the European Softball Federation’s website. There you can download the rules in both English and Spanish.