Is there a run rule in college softball? Deep dive into the NCAA rule book 

Syndication: Gainesville Sun
Looking into the run rule in college softball.

The college softball postseason is well and truly underway, with exciting games taking place on both sides of the bracket. With the NCAA Regionals done and dusted, the Super Regionals are the next part of the postseason, with Saturday being the last day of the tournament before the College World Series begins on May 30th.

Among the favorites this season are the Texas Longhorns, Tennessee Lady Volunteers and LSU Tigers. The scorelines in recent games would indicate that the postseason games left could perhaps see the run rule come into effect again.

Is there a run rule in college softball?

Notably, there is a run rule in college softball. As per the current rules set by the NCAA, this rule comes into effect when a team has an eight-run lead after five equal innings of play. For home teams, the lead can come anytime after 4 1/2 innings instead of five. This run rule in college softball is commonly known as the mercy rule.

What is the run rule in college softball?

According to the NCAA's official 2024 and 2025 rulebook, the eight-run rule, or mercy rule, is as follows:

"A regulation eight-run-rule game shall be declared by the plate umpire if one team is ahead by eight or more runs after five or more equal innings. Complete innings must be played unless the home team reaches the eight-run lead while at bat in the last inning. Any hit that results in an eight-run lead by the home team [after 4½ innings] is treated as a game-ending hit. [See Rule 14.5.]
"Whenever the visiting team reaches the limit in the fifth or any inning thereafter, the home team must have its opportunity to bat in the bottom half of the inning."

There is an exception to this rule as per the rule book, which is as follows:

"For NCAA Tournament play only, the respective NCAA divisional softball committees may elect to remove the eight-run rule for games played between the final two teams of the championship, provided it is formally declared before the start of the tournament."

College softball rule changes for 2024

One of the major rule changes enforced in the current softball season included revising the involvement of an assistant coach with the umpires. The new rule states the following:

"To prohibit assistant coaches, who are not in a coach’s box or serving as the acting head coach, from communicating with an umpire[s]. This includes coming out of the dugout or bullpen area to appeal, question, argue or discuss any play on the field. The effect would be immediate ejection of the violator[s]."

The NCAA also implemented an experimental rule that allows the use of a double base at first base in order to potentially prevent collisions at first base. Another key rule change involved warmup pitches, in which a pitcher is now allowed one throw to any base during the warmup time allowed instead of just first base.

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