The Pitchers Circle

The Pitchers Circle

What Is The Pitchers Circle By Gary Leland

Have you ever wondered why there is a white circle around the pitcher’s plate in girl’s fastpitch softball?  It actually is called the Pitcher’s Circle.  If you think it’s just there is an aesthetic design, well it’s not.  There actually is a deeper reason behind its existence.  And just like any other ball game, certain rules need to be observed.

But first, learning some basics about girl’s softball would make things much easier to understand.

Girl’s Softball – An Overview
Just like baseball, two teams will be playing on a diamond field (with four bases) and with each team consisting of 9 players.  While standing on the rubber found close to the center of the field, the pitcher will then have to throw the ball towards the batter who is positioned at the home plate.  Both teams will alternately play defense or offense for which they will switch roles once 3 outs have been recorded by the defense against the offense.  One series of this is called an inning.  Moreover, for each offense who bats, she is allowed to commit until three strikes or four balls.

What is a Pitcher’s Circle?
The pitcher’s circle is the chalked circle around the pitcher’s rubber, also commonly referred to as “plate”.  The circle has a diameter of 16 feet.  This means that the circle observes an 8-foot radius which starts right from the middle of the front surface of the rubber.

So when does the pitcher’s circle come into play?
The play is said to start when the pitcher carries the ball inside the circle. And with the foot on the plate, she then releases the ball.

Once the ball is thrown back by the catcher or fielder to the pitcher, provided that the pitcher is now in the circle and has full control of the ball, the play is then said to be “dead.” In such case, the batter reaching the first base must have her foot on the base until the pitcher releases the ball.  Additionally, each runner standing on the other bases will have to stay put as well.

Hence, the pitcher’s circle is basically used to establish that the play is complete or has ended.  Again, this means that the pitcher is now inside the circle and in control of the ball.

Another purpose of the pitcher’s circle is to serve as a basis for the look back rule.

Look Back Rule Defined
The look back rule stipulates that when the pitcher is in control of the ball inside the pitcher’s circle and provided that she is not threatening to make a throw or fake it, the following must be observed:

1.      Any runner standing on a base must remain on the base.
2.      Any runner who is not on the base must either go back to the previous base or must advance towards the next one.  Either action should be done without any hesitation.  Otherwise, any attempt made by the runner to change direction or stop or dance around, can be a valid ground for her to be called out.

The look back rule is actually implemented in order to cut to the chase and prevent the pitcher and runner from unnecessary playing “cat and mouse” with each other.

What happens when the feet are on the line of the circle?
When both feet are on the line of the circle, then the pitcher is still considered to be inside the pitcher’s circle.  As a rule of thumb, the player is considered to be inside the circle for as long as any part of the foot is on the line of the circle.  This practice also holds true for any other line on the field.

What happens if the pitcher’s circle is not visible anywhere?
There are instances when the line is not chalked or visible.  In this case, the umpire will then decide the parameters of the line to the best of his judgment.  Hence, a pitcher’s circle will always exist in any girl’s softball game.

In a nutshell, a pitcher’s circle is necessary to mark the completion of a play as well as to serve as a point of reference for the look back rule.  While the line may not be necessarily drawn, the circle still has to exist in principle.

I hope this helps understand why their is a circle around the pitcher in fastpitch softball.

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