This article aims at giving a fair idea of the rules of pitching in baseball. The current seasons of college baseball have a few rules changed and below I have tried to cover as many basic rules as possible for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasons.
This article gives you a basic idea of where the rules of pitching apply and how they work for different pitching situations.
Where Do These NCAA Pitching Rules Apply?
Athletes of 1,268 North American institutions and conferences are regulated by NCAA which is the short form for National Collegiate Athletic Association, a non-profit organization. The pitching rules of the NCAA apply to many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada that organize athletic programs. These rules not only apply to the colleges and universities but also to the games organized by this organization.
NCAA Baseball Pitching Rules
Before discussing the rules of pitching, we need to know that there are two legal pitching positions, the windup, and the set.
When doing Windup position, a pitcher:
- Shall stand facing the batter with their pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and other foot free;
2. Is permitted to have their “free” foot on the rubber, in front of the rubber, behind the
rubber or off the side of the rubber;
3. May not take a second step toward home plate with either foot in his delivery of the pitch.
On the other hand, the Set position is indicated when the pitcher:
- Stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop;
- Stands with their pivot foot in contact with and parallel to the pitcher’s plate, and their other foot in front of the pitcher’s plate, unless the pitcher notifies the umpire that he will be pitching from the Windup Position under such circumstances prior to the beginning of an at-bat.
Furthermore, a pitcher will be permitted to notify the umpire that the pitcher is pitching from the Windup Position within an at-bat only in the event of (1) substitutions by the offensive team; or (2) immediately upon the advancement of one or more runners.
The Pitching Rules
- The pitcher shall pitch to the batter immediately after moving any part of the body, with a runner on base.
- When there is a runner on base, the pitcher may disengage from the rubber only so long no natural pitching motion with the body, legs or free foot has been initiated.
- When there is a runner on base, a throw may be initiated by the pitcher to that base without first disengaging the pivot foot from the rubber only so long no natural pitching motion has been initiated.
- Movement of the pitcher is not allowed from the windup position to the set position without disengaging the pivot foot from the rubber.
- The pitcher must step directly( i.e within a 45-degree angle that is measured from the pivot foot toward the base the pitcher is throwing to or a throw is being feinted )and gain ground toward a base to pick off a runner.
- A pitcher is not allowed to drop the heel of the free foot before disengaging the pivot foot from the rubber when stepping off the rubber.
A penalty for any of these above-mentioned rules if broken can be called a balk with the bases occupied and with the bases unoccupied, no pitch shall be ruled by the umpire.
- “Running into the pitch” is an illegal pitch and can cause a penalty.
- The pitcher is committed to throw or feint a motion toward second base or pitch to home plate when the delivery is started by the pitcher from the set position, breaking this rule could cause a penalty.
- The pitcher may throw to any base to retire a runner, at any time before the natural pitching motion begins, provided before making the throw, a step that gains ground and is directed toward such base is taken.
- A ball is called when the pitcher makes an illegal pitch with the bases unoccupied.
- When the pitcher breaks contact with the pitcher’s rubber by stepping backward and placing the pivot foot on the ground behind the rubber it automatically becomes an infielder.
- The pivot foot of the pitcher must be touching the pitcher’s rubber when taking signs. The pitcher must use the windup to deliver the ball if the sign is taken in the windup position.
- The pitcher must use the set position to deliver the ball if the sign is taken in the set position. The continuity is broken if the pitcher steps back off the pitcher’s rubber with the pivot foot. When the pitcher’s rubber is again touched by the pitcher, the appropriate delivery from the assumed stance must be used on the mound. Any other sign other than a legal position is called a ball.
- An illegal pitch or quick pitch with the bases unoccupied cannot be made by the pitcher or else a penalty will be called.
- The pitcher won’t be able to drop the ball intentionally or unintentionally while in contact with the rubber.
- Pitchers cannot delay the game at any time or a penalty will be imposed.
- The pitcher may go to the mouth while in the dirt area. If the pitcher is not in contact with the pitching rubber, however, the fingers must be wiped off by the pitcher before engaging the rubber. A ball will be called a penalty if this rule is violated.
- No pitcher shall have on their person or possession any foreign substance. The defensive player(s) or the pitcher shall not apply any foreign substance or moisture to the ball or to the pitching hand or fingers or do anything to deface the ball. The pitcher may use bare hands to rub up the ball.
- Pitchers cannot intentionally delay the game except to retire a runner by throwing the ball to players other than the catcher when the batter is in position. As a penalty, the pitcher can be ejected from the ground after the first warning.
- The pitcher cannot Intentionally pitch at the batter.
- No other garment can be worn with ragged, frayed, or slit sleeves by the pitcher other than the uniform.
- No other glove can be worn under the regular glove. The helmet should be glossy. No jewelry can be worn that can distract the umpire or batter.
- A jump or push forward off the pitcher’s plate by the pitcher is not allowed with his pivot foot and then bring his foot to the ground and make a second push-off just before delivering the pitch.
- While touching the pitcher’s plate, any feinting motion without completing the throw toward the batter or toward first or third base.
- A balk is called while touching the pitcher’s plate if the pitcher feints a throw.
- A balk is also called when, if a pitcher feints a throw to any base from a pitching position and without breaking contact with the rubber throws to another base.
- If a pitcher, throws to any base to retire a runner while being at pitching position without first stepping directly toward such base; or feint a throw toward any base when it is not to retire a runner, a balk can be called.
- Balk can be also called if an illegal pitch like a quick pitch is made.
- If a pitcher unnecessarily delays the game, a balk can be caused.
- If the pitcher is not in possession of the ball and he stands with either foot or both feet on any part of the dirt area of the mound during a hidden-ball play attempt, it’s a balk.
- If a pitcher fails to throw to the batter immediately after making any movement with any part of the body, a balk is called.
- Either hand is taken off by the pitcher after having taken a stretch or set position unless making a pitch or throwing to any base.
- The catcher must have at least one foot inside the catcher’s box until the pitcher begins the pitching motion.
- If more than two pumping motions are made from the windup position by the pitcher before delivering to the plate, a balk is called.
- It is also considered a balk when the pitcher makes a natural pitching motion while the pitcher’s rubber is not being touched.
Different rules apply to different leagues. NCAA has specific rules that are applicable only to leagues organized by the organization and other college and university-based games. The players and the umpires should abide by the rules for a smooth game that is played in a fair manner.