What is it?
The game is played under the official rules of the 16-inch slow pitch softball as approved by the Amateur Softball Association of America with 15 exceptions that are geared toward the wheelchair user. The game allows individuals a way of playing without the full use of their legs that would allow easy maneuverability in a wheelchair and keep the fast pace of softball. Players compete on hard surfaces, such as a parking lot, instead of a normal baseball field, and use a 16-inch softball, which allows wheelchair players to keep one hand on the wheelchair
while catching the softball without a glove.
Who can play?
Wheelchair softball is an exciting and challenging summer sport that enables almost anyone with a physical disability to compete.
Wheelchair softball was started in 1975 by a few individuals with spinal cord injuries and lower extremity impairments in the Midwest, who still wanted to enjoy America’s greatest pastime. In 1976, the National Wheelchair Softball Association (NWSA) was founded and serves as the governing body for wheelchair softball in the United States. Teams throughout America compete on a regular basis and host several tournaments throughout the summer. Many teams have sought and found allegiance and sponsorship with their Major League Baseball (MLB) team counterparts, such as the Minnesota Rolling Twins, Colorado PVA Rockies, Chicago RIC Cubs, Boston NEPVA Red Sox, and our very own New York United Spinal Association Mets. All wear official MLB uniforms and compete with pride under their respective professional team’s logo. The NWSA hosts a national wheelchair softball tournament annually. For more information about the National Wheelchair Softball Association, visit http://www.wheelchairsoftball.com/.
A hard surface, such as a parking lot, and a 16-inch softball are the only required elements.
>>Click Here to view a diagram of the an official Wheelchair Softball field layout.
- All participants must be in manual wheelchairs with foot platforms.
- The playing field shall be a level smooth surface of blacktop or similar materials with 150 feet on the foul lines and 180-220 feet to straight center.
- The official diamond shall have 50 feet between all bases and 70 feet, 8.5 inches from home to 2nd.
- The pitching stripe extending perpendicularly 1 foot on either side of the diagonal from home to 2nd base shall be located 28 feet from home base.
- At 2nd base shall be located a 4 feet diameter circle. At 1st and 3rd base, in fair territory, shall be located a 4 feet diameter semicircle. The defensive baseman and the base runner must touch the circle with one or more wheels in order to tag the base. The bases shall be painted white.
- At 1st base only, the base is extended into foul territory. The extension shall be 24 inches deep and 24 inches wide beginning at he 50-mark and shall be white. This extension may be used by the base runner only as an extended tag area for 1st base.
- The base runner must be seated in his/her wheelchair and may tag or make contact with the base with either one or more wheels, or may tag the base with his/her hand. If a runner is knocked out of his/her chair, he/she may proceed to the previous or next base by any means other than hopping, walking, or running, and make contact with the base with any part of his/her body. A base runner may not place a lower extremity (waist down) on the ground or someone else’s chair to stop his/her chair. If he/she does, the play is dead will result in a delay dead ball situation. No fielder may advance toward or play the ball with any lower extremity in contact with the ground. A player may return to his/her chair and then advance toward the ball. The result is a dead ball at time of violation and all runners receive a minimum of one base advance from the last base achieved before the violation. Additional bases may be awarded at the umpire’s discretion based on which base the umpire thinks the runner would have achieved without the infraction. The umpire may award a minimum of 2 bases.
- All teams are required to have a quadriplegic on their team in active play. This means that when the team is on defense, they must have a quad playing one of those positions. Failure to have a quad take the field will require the team to play a fielder short (i.e., 9 rather than 10 players). When the team is hitting there must be a quad in the batting lineup and bat in the same position throughout the game. Failure to have a quad hit in that position will be an automatic out.
- A team must have the required 10 players, including one or more quads, to start the game.
- The hitter cannot have a lower extremity in contact with the ground when hitting. If he/she does, the ball is dead, the batter is out, and all base runners return to the last base achieved before the illegal at-bat.
- The ASA rule subject to the EXTRA PLAYER (EP) is not legal in wheelchair softball.
- Teams are balanced by the following point system:
- Quad (any) = 1 point Class I = 1 point Class II = 2 points Class III = 3 points
- At no time in a game shall a team have players participating with a total value of points greater than 22.
- The coach, in placing his/her team’s roster in the official score book before each game, shall place a Roman numeral prominently and in a common line between the player’s disability classifications.
- The official scorer shall be responsible for seeing that personnel on the field for either team at any given time does not exceed the above balance rule. This will only have to be checked at the beginning of the game and at time of substitutions. No checking of the total value points will be necessary if I substitutes for a I, II, or III; or if a II substitutes for a II or III. It will only be necessary if a III substitutes for a II or a I, or if a II substitutes for a I.
- A restraining line shall be marked 12 feet from the bases and parallel to the baselines, which run from 1st base to 2nd base, and from 2nd to 3rd base. All 4 infielders must have at least one wheel on the line or on the infield area side of the restraining line until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. If any infielder fails to observe the restraining line rule, the umpire will immediately award the 1st base to the batter. The infraction shall be treated as a walk.
- The player classified as a quad may alter their bat to improve the grip. The altered bat must be approved by the head umpire for safety concerns (no sharp or pointed edges, etc.). 16. The player classified as a quad may wear a glove on either or both hands regardless of position (including pitcher).
- The “Chop Hit” is allowed in the National Wheelchair Softball Association.
- A semicircle restraining line shall be marked in the outfield 100 feet from home plate and extend to each foul line. All outfielders other than the short fielder must remain behind the line until the pitcher releases the ball during a pitch.
- Quads can bunt in the National Wheelchair Association, but must inform the umpire before first at bat of quad status during any given game.
Last Updated on Friday, 11 December 2009 00:10