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Softball/forced runners must advance


QUESTION: Please clarify.  In ASA softball, runners at first and second.  Grounder to short who steps on second to force the guy coming from first.  The guy on second originally runs back to second base.  I didn't make a call, then the guy started running to third and was properly tagged out.  The offense argued that the guy was allowed to go back to second, but I'm pretty sure if he was forced initially he needs to advance to next base (of course he would need to be tagged since the force was taken off when the fielder stepped on second base).  There seems to be a lot of "umpires" out there that believe the runner does not need to advance to the next base in this situation, but I believe they are improperly interpreting the rule.  Please clarify once and for all. Thank You!!!

ANSWER: Hi Tony,

When the batter becomes a b-r anyone immediately in front of them is forced from the base (they are no longer legally entitled to that base) and anyone immediately in front of that runner is also forced.  The force is in effect until the b-r is put out or a trailing runner is put out.

In this case R2 (1st) is put out by touching 2nd as all forces are in effect.  R1 (2nd) is now no longer forced from the base, they have the legal right to reoccupy 2nd base.  They do not need to advance anywhere since there is no trailing runner.  In fact even if the b-r was to attain 2nd and R2 was also on 2nd, the b-r could be put out w/ a tag since they do not have the legal right to occupy 2nd, only R2 does at that time.

If in fact R2 was standing on 2nd and was called out tagged on the base, this would be an opportunity for the offense to use the "P" word. You did say he was off base, so that's a legal tag, but why did he leave 2nd? and why would the offense argue that the guy was allowed to go back to second, if nothing was said?


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks.  Your answer seems in direct contradiction to one given by expert Martin Hoover on 5/5/2007 which states "any runner who is forced to advance must vacate that base at which they currently are.  Once a runner is "forced", they must then proceed to the next base from the last one legally touched."  He says the runner must be tagged if a force out was completed at the base behind them...but that they are still required to advance to the next bag, and "may not go back."

That's what I was basing my decision on.  To answer your follow up question, when the runner who retreated to second saw I was keeping the play alive instead of calling time out, I guess he panicked and started running to third, at which time he was tagged out.

So I guess I blew the call.  I'll get it right next time.

Thank you!!

Hi Tony,

His answer is mostly wrong!

1) the runner doesn't have to vacate the base but is liable to be put out with a tag while standing on the base.

2)"Once a runner is "forced", they must then proceed to the next base from the last one legally touched."  true...if they want to avoid being put out and all forces are still in effect.

3)"He says the runner must be tagged if a force out was completed at the base behind them."  True if the runner is off base but not if on any base they are legally entitled to.  Once a force is removed touching the base (2nd or 3rd in your OP) by the defense is not an out.

4)..but that they are still required to advance to the next bag, and "may not go back."   ABSOLUTELY False!!!!!  The force has been removed and they are legally entitled to return to the base they were at or advance to the next base if they wish.

I see this was originally a baseball q but it doesn't make any difference the rule is the same.  Here'w what some baseball people said at the time.....REI wrote at 2010-05-04 16:05:03
Martin is incorrect.  Once the force is removed, as it was when first base was tagged, the runners can return if they wish as they are no longer forced.

Note that in rule 2.00 "Force Play" it notes that the force is often removed during action. That is the case her

Jerry wrote at 2010-05-04 17:04:53
Sorry Martin, your answer is incorrect. See MLB Rule 7.08 A batter is out when (e)  He fails to reach the next base before a fielder tags him or the base, after he has been forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner. However, if a following runner is put out on a force play, the force is removed and the runner must be tagged to be put out.

John Miller wrote at 2010-05-04 17:13:53
This answer is incorrect. Once the batter/runner is put out at first, the force is removed and R1 can return to first or continue to second and must be tagged while he is off base for the out.

llump11 wrote at 2010-05-04 17:24:24
Martin is interpreting 7:08(e) incorrectly. It does not say the runner must continue once the force is removed. R1 may continue or return and must be tagged to be put out.The last sentence goes back to the batter not being out and the runner passing 2d then returning to the 1st base side reinstating the force.If read incorrectly it can be a little confusing.

bigyaz wrote at 2010-05-05 18:44:06
Your "expert" answer is wrong, which is surprising given the credentials you list. The runner can absolutely return to first once the force is off.




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Dr. Mark R. Ambrose


I can answer all questions about book rules and "case book" rules governing the playing of ASA softball. Have a REAL situation that happened and are not sure the proper rule was applied, ask me.


I am a registered ASA umpire, a MASA "At-Large" umpire since 1996 and a retired District Umpire-In-Chief. I have very extensive experience in MASA State Championship and ASA national qualifying tournament play both as an umpire and an Umpire-In-Chief. I completed 3 ASA National Schools including the ASA national advanced umpire school in Ok City("Bernie" for those who know him was the lead clinician, I survived the week and couldn't let my kids watch the game tapes when I got home. No, I love you Bernie). I was one of 4 "Yankee" umpires selected to umpire the Men's D National East Championship in 2002 in Winter Haven FL

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