Little League Softball is the sister organization to Little League Baseball, with both under the governing organization in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Little League offers a recreational level of play that guarantees playing time to all participants. The rules of its fastpitch softball unit are designed primarily to protect player safety. The rules are established by Little League Softball, which reviews its regulations every year to stay up to date with current trends in the sport.
The field for Little League girls softball has bases 60 feet apart from each other, and the pitcher's rubber 40 feet away from home plate. The Minor League division, which is typically for players 10 and under, places the pitching slab 35 feet from the plate, while the players in the 14 and older age groups pitch from 43 feet out. The infield surface is generally all dirt. Little League requires the use of breakaway bases in order to reduce the risk of injury when players slide into a base.
Dropped Third Strike
Little League Softball uses the dropped third strike rule that allows the hitter to run to first base if the catcher does not catch the pitch on strike three. This rule begins in its Major division, for players age 10 through 12. The catcher must complete the out either by throwing to first base ahead of the hitter or tagging the batter out herself. The rules do not allow the hitter to run if another runner is on first base with less than two outs in an inning.
Length of the Game
The players in the Major and Minor divisions, age 12 and under, play six-inning games, while the Junior division and older players go seven innings. The Little League Softball rulebook allows for the use of a 10-run mercy rule after four innings in the six-inning games and after five in those that go seven. The mercy rule ends the game at that point if one team is behind by 10 runs or more. The rule is always enforced during tournament play, but local leagues may choose to use it or not during their regular season games.
Little League Softball enforces mandatory minimum-play standards on its teams. During the regular season, each player on the roster must bat once and play at least six consecutive outs in the field in every game. A starter is allowed to come back into the line-up once her substitute has achieved that minimum standard. Tournament rules require just three outs and one time at bat for each player. Little League also limits the number of pitches that each pitcher is allowed to throw in a game to 75 for players 10 and under, 85 for those who are 11 and 12 years old, and 95 for older players.