2021 Spring COVID Policies

These rules replace specific rules outlined above and add to existing rules to clarify and update league protocols related to COVID. For the 2021 season, the new rule below shall take precedent over any rule outlined previously in the league rulebook.

These guidelines are fluid and may change from week-to-week. We hope to be able to relax some of these measures and all players will be notified of any changes during the season.

Face Masks

All players will be required to wear face masks at all times on the field, with one exception.

  • Outfielders have the option to remove their masks while they are in the field.
    • Masks must be carried with the player onto the field so that they have their mask with them at all times.
  • Outfielders must put their mask back on as soon as possible after the third out each inning, but always prior to coming within 20’ of any other player or crossing over the foul line into their bench territory.
    • If an Outfielder does not replace their mask before coming near another player or crossing the foul line, the next batter up will start their at-bat with a 1-2 count, instead of a 1-1 count.

Masks will be required before and after games. Players must begin to wear a mask once they leave their car in the parking lot and advance towards the field. After games, players should continue to wear their masks until they have reached their car.

All spectators over 4 years old will be expected to follow the same guidelines as players.

Masks with ventilators, holes, mesh, tears, or any other defect will not be considered acceptable face masks and must be replaced with a more effective covering. The League will provide you with an acceptable face mask if you do not have one. If you do not agree to wear a mask at the field, you will be asked to leave.

Strike Zone Mat

To keep our umpires safe by preventing close contact to every single player each week, while also allowing catchers to have more distance between themselves and the batters, a Strike Zone Mat shall be used to determine if a pitched ball is a Ball or a Strike.

The Umpire shall determine if a pitch reached a maximum height between 6’ and 12’. If so, the pitch shall be valid. The Strike Zone Mat shall determine if a pitch lands within the Strike Zone. If the mat is hit by a valid pitch in the air, the pitch shall be a Strike. Home Plate will still be considered a Strike, as normal.

A pitch shall be considered a Strike if the pitch meets these conditions:

  1. Moderate speed.
  2. Tossed from below the hip.
  3. Reach above a peak arc between a minimum of 6’ from the ground.
  4. Stay below a peak arc of 12’ feet from the ground.
  5. The ball lands on either the Strike Zone Mat or Home Plate.

The Umpire will determine if a pitch hit the Strike Zone Mat in the air.

Socially-Distanced Bench / Fence Spacing

Teams will have the option of distancing along the fence lines when they are up to bat or not playing in the field. The league will provide the infrastructure to allow teams to distance themselves in specific, isolated areas along the fence line, and encourage all players to practice social distancing as much as possible at the field. However, there will be no league requirement for teammates to distance themselves away from the dugout during their game and no penalty if a team decides not to use these resources.

Teams and individuals must determine how they want to protect themselves when they are on the bench. We hope that team social dynamics, peer pressure, and your own individual considerations of “safe” precautions will help make this work for everyone.

While teammates are allowed to determine their own distancing guidelines, players will not be allowed to interact with the other team while at the field. Players should make every possible effort to remain at least 10’ away from opposing players before, during, and after the game.

Teams must stay on their side of the field, but there will be no requirement to distance teammates on the sidelines. We hope you will practice social distancing and not sit too closely to each other, but that decision will be yours to make.

Arriving & Leaving The Field

To help keep Teams distanced, all Players must gather before the games in specified waiting areas. Players that arrive early will be required to wait in designated areas.

  • Home Team sits on the FIRST BASE side of the field.
    • Pre-Game: Team should gather at BEHIND THE 1ST BASE DUGOUT.
  • Away Team sits on the THIRD BASE side of the field.
    • Pre-Game: Team should gather NEAR THE LEFT FIELD FOUL POLE.

You will be expected to know if you are Home or Away. If you are unsure, check the schedule on durhamsoftball.com or ask the Field Attendant.

All Players are expected to stay at least 10’ away from any Player on any other Team, whenever possible. You will necessarily be close to your Teammates before the games, but you should try to avoid interacting or coming close to Players on other Teams.

  • PLAYERS LEAVING: After the game, please exit the field immediately and return to the parking lot. You will be required to keep your mask on until you reach your vehicle in the parking lot. Each Team should do their best to leave the Playing Area quickly (under 2 minutes) and efficiently while staying distanced from other Players. Players should grab all of their things and leave the dugout immediately, even if they must re-organize away from the field before they leave the grounds completely. Please try to stay at least 10’ away from any other Player while you are leaving the field.
  • PLAYERS ARRIVING: Players that are awaiting their turn to take the field should be patient and wait until the previous Team has completely left the area. Once the Team that occupied their side of the field has distanced themselves from the field, the Players may place their items in the dugout or along the fence. The Home Team should immediately take the field and prepare for the start of the game. Games will start ASAP after both Teams have entered the dugout, so warmup before the previous game is over and get ready to begin quickly.

We have a mandate to restrict the number of people gathered at the field for our events. Our gathering must be limited to no more than 50 people at one time. With 2 teams playing, and 2 teams waiting, we will approach 50 people in-between games. It is very important that players leave the field quickly and waiting teams gather in their assigned areas prior to the game.

Attendance

You will not be allowed to play if you have a fever (100+) or recent exposure to a known or suspected COVID-positive person. We will be relying on the honor system and expect players to use good judgment in staying away from their friends and teammates if they might put them at risk by playing the game. We will refund you $5 if you miss a game due to illness or self-quarantine, so please do not come to the field if you might put others at risk.

We will have a Field Attendant at our games. The Attendant will be responsible for taking attendance of all players and spectators at the field, for two reasons:

  • To ensure our 50-person capacity is satisfied, and limit access to the field if we approach an excess of players & spectators at one time.
  • To document potential contacts and exposures throughout the league as a form of contact tracing if the league learns of COVID-positive players after the game.

We hope contact tracing is unnecessary because our players agree to take necessary precautions and stay away from the field if they are sick or exposed, but we must plan to be safe, anyway. Please be courteous to the Field Attendant when they take attendance during the game.

Spectators

Up to 20 People per Team will be allowed at the field each game, including all family, friends, kids (ages 5+), spectators, and players. The number of spectators allowed for each team depends on the number of players at the game. The total number of people allowed at the game for each side must equal 20.

  • eg. If a Team has 12 players at the game, they may have 8 spectators. If a Team has 16 players at the game, they may have 4 spectators.

Children under 4-years old do not count towards the total number of people at the game. All Spectators must follow the same COVID precautions as our players, including not coming to the games sick, following mask requirements, and maintaining distancing measures.

Teams should discuss and coordinate their own spectators to ensure compliance. If a Team has more than 20 combined players and spectators at the game, spectators will be asked to leave. If the extra spectators do not leave the field after being warned, their Team will lose 1 Strike per minute until the spectator has left.

Respecting Others

Since some of these measures and recommendations are subjective, we must consider that all players will not have the same concern for properly following protocols. Still, everyone must respect everyone, regardless of their personal opinion. Even if you do not want to adhere to certain restrictions, you cannot prevent others from attempting to keep themselves safe.

If you have a teammate that you believe is being disrespectful, speak with them. If they refuse to change and continue to be disrespectful, please notify the league. For example:

  • Player refuses to socially distance themselves from you. You have asked them to stay 6’ away from you when it isn’t necessary, but they don’t.
  • Player refuses to wear a mask. They may think the umpire doesn’t notice, but you noticed and don’t feel comfortable with their actions.
  • Player lied about their health. They played with symptoms of illness or falsely reported answers to our pre-game screenings.

Players can report a teammate for inappropriate behavior by emailing the league at play@durhamsoftball.com.

  • If you are reported by one teammate, you will be questioned.
  • If you are reported by three teammates, you will be suspended for one game.
  • If you are reported by five teammates, you will be removed from the league.

Changes from Spring to Summer, 2019

Thanks for playing, everyone! In our efforts to constantly improve our league, we have made a few small changes to the game rules for Summer League. These changes have been made based on feedback from players and umpires and they are designed to make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

  • Batters will start with a 1-1 count. This will speed up the game, allowing games to play more innings and get players in the field back to their water bottles faster.
  • Batters will receive a Courtesy Foul on the 2nd Strike. If you hit a foul with 2 strikes, you’ll receive one “free” foul ball. After that, the next foul ball is an OUT.
  • Less restrictive defensive requirements in the event of a missing Female player. If a team is forced to take an OUT every inning because they do not have 3 or more Females, that team may still play a Female at Catcher on defense. Previously, both Females were required to play in the field, with a Male playing Catcher.

That is it! Relatively minor changes, right? As we grow, we hope we’re getting closer to a more permanent rule structure. If / when we make another change, we will continue to explain our rationale for the changes and promise to always consider they player’s interests when we structure our game.

Because we reduced the number of regular season games from 10 to 9, we’re also guaranteeing that everyone will also play a Playoff Game!

  • Two tournaments: Championship (Top 8) and Consolation (Bottom 8)
    • Week 1: First Round games for both Tournaments, 4/each, 8/total
    • Week 2: Final Four and Championship Games for both Tournaments, 3/each, 6/total

As always, Teams will earn $50 bonuses for their charities for every Playoff win! This year, all of the Consolation Games will be worth the same amount as the Championship Games! That means we will have TWELVE games that will have $50 on the line for charity, plus TWO MORE Championship Games with $200 up for donation. There will be a total of $1,500 on the line for the Summer Playoffs, overall, so it should be a pretty fun finish to the season!

2019 Player Waiver: Download

Valid Starting Lineups

Our goal is to always allow teams to play a game that counts, even if they have to play at a disadvantage. The most likely cause of an invalid roster is not having enough female players to field a full “7 Males / 3 Females” defensive lineup. To make sure the game can be played, we have relaxed the rules and requirements for a valid roster to also accommodate 1 or 2 Females on the roster. Below are the scenarios that might come up with the number of players who arrive each game.

  • 1 Female Defensive/Offensive Lineup
    • 8 Males, 1 Female, Opponent as Catcher
    • M-M-M-M-F-M-M-M-M-(Out)
    • Max. 9 Players in the Lineup
    • Additional Males can substitute in during the game
  • 2 Female Defensive/Offensive Lineup
    • 8 Males, 2 Females, Male as Catcher
    • M-M-M-M-F-M-M-M-M-F
    • Max. 10 Players in the Lineup
    • Additional Males can substitute in during the game
  • 3 Female Defensive/Offensive Lineup (Preferred Minimum Lineup)
    • 7+ Males, 3 Females, Any Player as Catcher
    • M-M-M-M-F-M-M-M-M-F-M-M-M-M-F
    • Max. 15 Players in the Lineup
  • 4+ Female Defensive/Offensive Lineup
    • 6-7+ Males, 3-4+ Females, Any Player as Catcher
    • M-M-M-M-F-M-M-F-M-M-F-M-M-M-F
    • Max. 15 Players in the Lineup

A maximum of 10 defensive players are permitted on the field at any time. At least 4 of those players must be positioned in the Outfield Grass prior to the pitch.

No more than 4 Male Batters can hit in a row. This includes the end of the lineup, where the order wraps around back to the top of the lineup.

If a team has only 1 Female Player available, the other team may volunteer a Catcher who’s only responsibility is to return pitched balls to the pitcher.

If a team has only 2 Female Players available, a Male on their own team must play catcher.

Sponsor Donation Pool

The basic concept of the Durham Softball sponsor donations is for the teams to compete to earn donations for their sponsor organization. Every sponsor is guaranteed a minimum donation for their participation, but the sponsor will receive a larger donation at the end of the season based on the number of games their team won, where they placed in the standings, and how well they did in the playoffs. Basically, the better the team performs, the more money the team will raise for their sponsored charity.

While the distributions are determined before the season, the actual dollar amount of the donation will vary based on our total player registration. Instead of a flat prize structure, the league will establish a Donation Pool from all additional funds remaining after the league pays its expenses. The size of the Donation Pool will vary based on the number of players, with a larger percentage of each registration fee going towards charity as more players sign up to play softball.

Because we want to help all of the organizations involved with the league, but we also want there to be enough incentive for the players to make league to be competitive, we have divided the distributions into four main categories: Participation, Wins, Regular-Season, and Playoffs.

Durham Softball’s 2019 Spring Donation Structure

This amount is subject to change each season, but the general principle remains the same. The more people we can recruit to play softball, the more we can help these great organizations!

Awards & Bonuses

In addition to the donations we’ll make to these sponsor organizations based on their participation and performance, teams in the league are also competing for a few nice prizes each season. The physical prizes will be awarded to the non-profit sponsor organization of the team that wins the award, as described below.

Umpire’s Choice Award

The Durham Softball Umpire’s Choice Award is an extra end-of-season bonus donation for one team in the league. The Award is voted on by the Umpires affiliated with the league at the end of the season.

The Umpire’s Choice Award pool is equal to 2% of the available Donation Pool at the end of the regular season. For 12 to 19 players per team, this donation would roughly be between $23 and $72, respectively, depending on the number of players in the league. The Umpires will vote for the team that most exemplifies the following characteristics during the season:

  • Sportsmanship. The players respect their opponents and do not seek conflict while playing the game.
  • Team Work. The players respect their teammates, speak positively, and encourage each other during the game.
  • Service. The players participate in weekly promotions and contribute to the causes of the other teams in the league.

To be eligible for the award, the team must have zero forfeits on the season. These requirements are meant to encourage fair play and allow the Umpires to also help give back and contribute to our cause.

Player’s Choice Award

The Durham Softball Player’s Choice Award is basically the exact same as the Umpire’s Choice Award, only voted on by the Players in the league, rather than the Umpires. The donation amounts, voting criteria, and eligibility requirements are all the same.

Regular Season / Tournament Champions

In addition to receiving the largest performance-based donation bonus for having the best record at the end of the season, the Regular Season Champion’s sponsor organization will receive a custom trophy. The trophy is being donated to the league by The Tockery, a local Durham custom wood and acrylic fabricating and engraving shop, and will be customized to include the name and logo of the winning organization.

The Tockery is also making Giant Checks to present to all teams at the end of the season. The check will be made out in the amount of the donation that the team earned for their non-profit sponsor that season. The teams won’t be able to keep the check, but it’ll still look cool for pictures. Everyone likes to take a picture with a giant check, right?

Drinks at Sponsor Bar

Each week, our sponsor bar has been gracious enough to offer a free pitcher of domestic brew to all teams on Sunday after their games! Just show up on Sunday afternoon with at least 4 people from your team wearing their Durham Softball jerseys. Since our Sponsor is kind enough to pay for the first drink each week, they hope you’ll stay for lunch and tip your server well!