Founded in 1933, the Amateur Softball Association is softball's official governing organization within the United States. The majority of organized softball leagues around the country choose to affiliate with the ASA and conform to the organization's standards and rules for game play. Co-ed softball leagues have developed into one of the most popular options for many amateur players. However, there are several rule differences in co-ed play that not only make for exciting and fair game play, but can also present a challenge in the area of strategy.
Players and Positions
As in traditional softball leagues, a team is expected to field ten players for each game. Five players must be male and five female. The batting order is required to alternate between male and female hitters. When in the field, there must be at least two females playing outfield positions and at least two females slotted for the infield. In addition to this, either the pitcher or catcher must be a female.
For the most part, co-ed games are played in the same manner as any other softball game, but there are a few modifications players and coaches should be aware of. Depending on league classification, there are home run limitations for co-ed games. For Major co-ed leagues, the limit is 6 homers per game, while Class A leagues have a limit of 3. Any home runs in excess of these limits results in the batter being called out and no base runner allowed to advance.
Some teams like to intentionally walk certain batters as part of their strategy, but this could backfire in co-ed play. If a team decides to intentionally walk a male batter, then the batter automatically goes all the way to second base rather than first as in regular softball leagues. Also, the following female batter has the option of walking or hitting. This rule was instituted to even up play and prevent a team from only pitching to female players.
Another difference is in the alternating of game balls based on whether a male or female is hitting. Males are required to hit a 12 inch, red-stitched official softball and females are limited to an 11 inch ball. If it is discovered by the batting team's coach that the wrong ball is used, the batting team has the option of taking the result of the play or batting over.
Playing Field Considerations
Co-ed softball games are played on fields where the bases are 65 feet apart and the pitching rubber is 50 feet from home plate. The maximum fence distance from home plate is 300 feet and the minimum can be as close as 275 feet.