MSL regulations (a selection)

Contents: Eligible playersTransfersLeague standingsFixturesEquipmentGame time, home teamGuest rulesPost-match paperwork

We present here a selection of the most relevant MSL regulations – the ones that are most invoked or asked about. For the full regulations of the league, consult the Captain’s Handbook.

Eligible players

Players must be at least 14 years old. Any player under 18 must be accompanied at games by their parent or guardian, or by an adult who has passed a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service, formerly CRB) check for the MSL, or has the written consent of the parent or guardian identifying the adult accompanying the player. The parent or guardian must have completed a BSUK “Permission to Play” form, which must be sent to the League Secretary.

Players may be rostered to one team only. New players may be added to the roster at any time during the season. A player may be removed from the roster on notification to the League Secretary.

Transfers

Players wishing to change teams (“transfer”) during the season may do so as long as the League Secretary is notified in writing or email by 6.30 pm on the day on which the player wishes to play for their new team. Notification of transfer should be confirmed by all three parties: the player, the team transferred from, and the team transferred to. In case of dispute, the individual player’s wishes take priority.

Any player transferring or obliged to transfer (see below) for a second or subsequent time will miss the first fixture with their new team. They are also ineligible to play (as a guest) for their previous team’s first fixture.

Transfer deadline. Starting from a date four weeks before the end of the official season no transfers are permitted of any player, except where that player is transferring to a higher division than the one they are currently rostered in.

League Standings

For all league games, 2 points are awarded for a win, and 1 for a tie. An additional point is awarded to each team, whatever the result, as long as a legal side is fielded, the match fee is paid, and the post-match paperwork submitted satisfactorily.

Teams with the same number of points and the same points percentage will be separated (1) by head-to-head win-loss record. Where this is inconclusive, positions will be determined (2) on the basis of aggregate scores for/against each other, then (3) by total of runs conceded in all games then (4) run difference in all games. In the case of a tie between more than two teams, if pairwise head-to-head records do not provide a conclusive ordering, then all of the above criteria just in games between the tied teams will prevail, and then criteria (3) and (4) in all games, will determine the order. Note that in a tie involving more than two teams, application of aggregate score and other criteria can result in a team being below another team despite a superior pairwise head-to-head record.

Promotion and relegation between each of the divisions is normally on the basis of the top two teams being promoted, the bottom two being relegated. No team will be excused promotion

Fixtures

All games must be played on the date and pitch specified by the Fixtures Secretary. In principle, no rearranging of fixtures is allowed. However, rearrangement of a game that would otherwise be forfeited may be permitted if requested (a) in good time (at least a week before the scheduled date) (b) by the team that would otherwise win by walk-over, (c) if a suitable time, place and umpire can be arranged and (d) as long as the rearrangement does not interfere with the league structure, e.g. by delaying any league split. Such requests should be initiated by the team that would otherwise win by walk-over (not by the forfeiting team) and addressed to the Fixtures Secretary.

Postponed or incomplete games will be replayed on a date to be arranged by the Fixtures Secretary. Incomplete games will normally be completed from the point at which they were halted.

Equipment

Bats: All bats must have one of the ASA certifications, or the 2005 ISF certification mark, or the current WBSC certification mark, and must not appear on the current ASA non-approved bat list (even though it might have a certification mark). In addition bats which are dented, cracked or altered (e.g. having more than two layers of tape on the bat grip, or having a flared or coned grip) are also illegal.

Balls: 11″ balls will be used for female batters in all divisions. MSL regulation balls conforming to ASA standards with a spec of .47 COR and <300 lbs compression for the 11″ balls, .47/375 for 12” balls will be used for all games. Modern balls of both sizes have a diamond logo stamped on them. 

Gloves: All fielders shall wear a softball glove, or mitt (if playing catcher or 1st base). Although not prescribed by the rules of the game, MSL imposed this local rule to uphold the spirit of the game.

Footwear: All players must wear shoes”. Open-toed sandals, flipflops and bare feet are not suitable for softball. Players should wear suitable footwear, especially in wet conditions. Studs, spikes or cleats made of metal, hard plastic, nylon or polyurethane are illegal. Detachable studs that screw into the shoe are allowed, but not those that screw onto the shoe.

Protective headgear: Helmets are mandatory for all batters and runners, and for under-18 players additionally when base coaching. If playing pitcher or catcher, under-18 players must wear a mask. Under-18 players must wear a gum shield or a mask if playing in the infield.

Uniforms: MSL plans to introduce uniform rules in the long term. For the time being these rules are voluntary. All teams are expected to identify at least the main colour of their uniform, and all players are expected to wear a top of this colour.

Game time, home team

Game time is 7 p.m. The home team is the team listed second in the fixture schedule. The home team is responsible for providing and setting out home plate, pitcher’s plate, and three bases including safety base at 1st. 

In all divisions, the home team shall provide two new league-sanctioned game balls (one 12″ ball and one 11″ ball) for each game played. Note: This rule is suspended while COVID RTP provisions are in place.

The designated home team shall have the option of batting first or second.

No home team: Certain games are indicated as “no home team” in the fixture schedule (e.g. cup games, playoff games, games in a third rotation). Teams toss up at the start to decide home advantage. In these games, the team listed second is responsible for setting out the pitch and, in the case of a tie, filling out the score sheet. Teams shall provide one match ball each: the team listed first will provide one 12″ ball, while the team listed second will provide one 11″ ball. 

Warm up: Teams must not use the diamond or batter’s boxes for warming up, with the exception of the pitcher and catcher, who may occupy the diamond for up to 5 minutes before the game starts. Batting practice should use 1st and 3rd bases.

Guests

During a game each team can have up to two guests at any one time in their line-up. Guests playing in a higher division than the one in which their team is rostered (“playing up”) are subject to the batting restrictions, but not fielding restrictions, set out below.

Guests may play no more than two divisions below the division in which they are rostered.

A team may not use (a) guest(s) to play 6&6.

A team may not use a guest if on the same night any of their rostered players of the same gender is playing as a guest for another team. Teams planning to use a guest from a team scheduled to play on the same night should as a courtesy inform the captain of that team.

Fielding restrictions: Guests playing in the same or a lower division than the one in which their team is rostered (“playing down”) are subject to the following restrictions: guests can field in any of the following positions (no order implied): pitcher, catcher or right field, subject to the usual restrictions on gender balance in the field.

Batting restrictions: All guests must bat as low as possible in the batting order, subject to the rule regarding sex of batters. Exception: a guest may enter the batting line-up as a substitute at any place in the line-up, subject to the rule regarding sex of batters, as long as the player they are replacing has completed at least one turn at bat.

Note that a “guest” is a player rostered to another team: this is not the same as a “new player”, who is not rostered to another MSL team, and who is therefore not subject to fielding restrictions.

Post-match paperwork

A minimum of five innings must be completed for a result to stand,  unless a game is subject to the run-ahead rule after 4 innings. Tied games should be resolved by extra innings if the conditions permit. However, should the conditions prevent continuation, a game can be declared a tie.

Any games cancelled or incomplete when curtailed by bad weather or darkness will be completed at a later date. Games will start from the point at which they were halted.

After the game both teams will send by email a TEAM SHEET listing in batting order the players used, giving both forename and surname, their status (rostered player, new player, guest), their starting fielding position, and any substitutions.

A single final SCORE SHEET showing inning-by-inning box score and final score, signed by both captains, should be emailed  by the winning team, or in the case of a tie, by the home team. The final score sheet shall also be used to indicate the pitch used, the name of the umpire, reason for playing less than a full game, any home runs scored, and to nominate agreed male and female MVPs for each team.

Match fees are £55 per team in Divisions 1 and 2, £50 per team in all lower divisions. Match fees should be paid online by the end of the week (i.e. Friday evening) in which the game is played.