USSSA Fastpitch Rules

With few exceptions, CT USSSA Fastpitch will abide by the rules and by-laws governed by the USSSA Fastpitch Rulebook. The on-line rulebook supersedes any printed edition. Like most softball sanctioning bodies the rules of USSSA play are virtually identical to Pony, ASA and other organizations. However, there are some differences. These following rules are the most commonly asked about by coaches and the following will be adhered to in ALL USSSA tournaments in Connecticut.

Downloadable USSSA Fastpitch Rules.

Common Rules Most Asked About.

Metal Spikes:  Metal spikes are allowed at tournaments for ages 13U and up. 
4 Pool Games: In 3-game pool play when an uneven number of teams exists, one team will play 4 pool games. The worst result of the 4 games will be dropped.  
DP/Flex: A team may use the Designated Player (DP)/FLEX option provided it is made known prior to the start of the game.
  • The DP’s name is indicated on the lineup as one of the batters in the batting order.
  • The name of the player for whom the DP is batting (FLEX) will be placed in the last position (non-batting) following the last batter in the lineup.
  • The DP must remain in the same position in the lineup for the entire game.
  • The DP may be substituted for at any time by a legal substitute or the FLEX.
  • If the starting DP is replaced on offense by the FLEX, the DP will leave the game. This reduces the number of players in the lineup by one. However the number of batters does not change.
  • If replaced by a substitute, the DP position remains in the lineup.
  • A starting DP may re-enter one time, as long as the DP returns to the original position in the batting order. If the DP re-enters or a substitute enters as the DP and the FLEX was batting in the DP’s spot, the FLEX can:
  1. return to the last position (non-batting) and play defense only, or
  2. leave the game.
  • The DP may play defense at any position.
  • The DP may play defense for a player other than the FLEX, that player will continue to bat but not play defense, and is not considered to have left the game.
  • The DP may play defense for the FLEX and the FLEX is considered to have left the game, reducing the number of players by eliminating the non-batting position in the lineup.
  • The FLEX player may be substituted for at any time by a legal substitute and the FLEX position remains in the lineup. 
  1. If the FLEX player is not playing defense, the non-batting FLEX position is eliminated and the FLEX player is out of the game Unless the FLEX player is playing offensive in the DP’s position, then the FLEX player may remain in the game and not play defense. 
  2. The FLEX position can be re-established if the FLEX player re-enters or is substituted for.
  3. If replaced by the DP, this eliminates the non-batting position.
  4. If the FLEX re-enters or a substitute enters as the FLEX and the DP was playing defense in the FLEX player’s spot,
  • a). the DP can return to batting only, play defense for another player and the non-batting position is re-established or
  • b). The DP can leave the game if the FLEX plays offense for the DP.
  • Placing the FLEX into one of the batting positions for someone other than the DP’s position is considered an illegal substitution. The illegal substitute shall be removed from the game and restricted to the dugout/bench.

Additional Player - up to two Additional Players (APs) can be used to increase the batting order to 10 or 11 batters. Teams may use additional APs to bat their entire roster (Roster Batting), subject to the restrictions of Rules 5.2 and 5.3 in the rule book. The AP(s) will be placed in the batting order in the positions to be occupied. The AP(s) can also be used on defense (only 9 defensive players in the field), but must keep the same position in the batting order. The AP(s), if used, must be selected prior to the start of the game, and their name(s) must be included on the lineup card presented to the Umpire. Failure to declare the use of the AP(s) prior to the game precludes the use of the AP(s) in that game. If a pinchhitter or pinch-runner is used for an AP, that player becomes the new AP. The original AP(s) may re-enter like any other player under the re-entry rule. If an AP is used, the position must be used the entire game.

Roster Batting may be used and must be declared prior to the start of the game. This means all players in the lineup will bat. The team must use roster batting for the full duration of the game. APs and DP/Flex can still be used.

Courtesy Runners will be allowed for the catcher and pitcher at any time by a legal courtesy runner. If a team does not have a legal courtesy runner remaining they can use the Last Completed At-Bat as a courtesy runner subject to the same rules and restrictions as regular courtesy runners. 

Jewelry that is non-hanging or non-dangling stud type ear or nose piercings only may be worn. Players in the game are prohibited from wearing jewelry such as rings, watches, hanging or dangling earrings, bars or other piercing type jewelry whether covered with tape or not, bracelets, necklaces (including cloth and string type), or other hard decorative items. Unadorned devices with no sharp edges or points, such as bobby pins, barrettes and hair clips, no longer than 2 inches, may be worn to control a player’s hair. Medical alert bracelets or necklaces are not considered jewelry. If worn they must be taped to the body, so as to remain visible. Coaches wristbands (play indicators) are legal but must be worn as designed. Exposed jewelry, which is judged by the umpire to be dangerous, must be removed and may not be worn during the game.

A current bat standards went into effect January 1, 2014.  This means that a bat must display the stamp to the right for it to be legal for use. Recall that this requirement was announced in 2011 in order to give everyone ample time to conform to the new standards. Effective January 1, 2014 all bats used for USSSA Fastpitch softball play must: 

  • Have the new permanent1 USSSA Mark on its taper exactly as in the image to the right OR
  • Be a Wood Bat
  • ALL of the above must be manufactured by an approved USSSA Bat Licensee

USSSA marks and other graphics of the bat must be applied permanently and must be applied by the USSSA licensed manufacturer. No stickers or decals are allowed and no one may add graphics to a bat once manufactured. Use of a bat with graphics not applied by the manufacturer will be use of an altered bat and subject to suspension under the USSSA Altered Bat rules. In addition to being violation of the USSSA Altered Bat rules, any use, creation or application of a USSSA mark without written permission of USSSA is a violation of Federal Trademark law and may result in prosecution by USSSA. If you have any concern about the person selling or providing you a bat, do not accept the bat, because you will be held responsible for any bat you bring into or use in a USSSA facility.

Why a New Standard
Over the past several years the number of altered bats that have found their way into the youth fastpitch program has been increasing at an alarming rate. When a bat displays this new stamp it means that the bat has been manufactured in such a way that if it ever becomes altered in order to increase performance beyond the 1.20 BPF limit then it will show very dramatic visible damage (eg, cracking) to prove that it's been tampered with.  In short, a bat with the new stamp is either unalterable or, if altered, it becomes unusable. We encourage all USSSA directors, umpires, coaches, parents and players to take the necessary steps to avoid the use of an illegal bat prior to and during a game.

Bat Testing

USSSA has implemented new rules for the testing of baseball and softball bats before a manufacturer can license a bat with USSSA. Current bats can improve with use, abuse, internal damage or by intentional altering and that improvement can exceed the BPF (Bat Performance Factor) limit for bats set by USSSA. Externally damaged bats even under current rules may be removed from play by umpires or directors. Bats that improve beyond the BPF limit cause a competitive imbalance in the game, can cause serious injury to participants and is unfair to those who have bats which comply with the USSSA BPF limit during the useful life of the bat.

Under the new rules a bat will no longer be licensed for USSSA play if it can ever improve in performance beyond the BPF limit (1.20 for softball and 1.15 for baseball) during its useful life. In addition, under the new rules manufacturers must demonstrate to USSSA that bats that are easily altered to mprove the BPF will show dramatic visible damage or otherwise become unusable. If the bat meets the new rules in lab testing, authorized USSSA manufacturers may add the new USSSA mark to the taper of the bat. Bats with the old USSSA mark are being phased out and for fastpitch the phase out period will last until January 1, 2014. Even if a bat with the new mark passes the tests in the lab, the bat model may still be removed from USSSA play if it proves to be one which exceeds the BPF limit during actual play without showing dramatic damage. January 1, 2014 there will no longer be a list of legal fast pitch bats, just rules which require the bats be made by an authorized USSSA manufacturer and have the new mark of the taper or be made of wood. There is no such illegal bat list at the current time. However, if a bat with the new mark is ultimately found to be illegal during play by the explanations stated above then USSSA will begin a list of such bats. For a more extensive review of the rationale behind these rule changes, please see