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NCAA Softball Rule Changes for 2024 Season


Use of a double first base, elimination of a bat requirement and use of electronic communication equipment were among the rule changes recently approved for all three divisions of NCAA softball for the 2024 season.

The double first base is currently an experimental rule and it is required for USA Softball and permissible for high school softball and NCAA baseball. The double first base will potentially prevent collisions at first base and encourage batter-runners to utilize the runner’s lane when running through first base. The defense is restricted to the white portion of the base and the batter-runner is restricted to the colored portion of the base.

Among the other rules changes:

• A requirement that bats have a 1/4-inch knob protrusion was eliminated. This allows for the use of manufactured bats with a tapered/flare/cone handle, a bat with additional layers of tape adjacent to the traditional knob or a bat with a tapering cone completely covered by a grip. It also allows for options that may limit pressure on the hand.

• The use of an exclusively one-way electronic communication device from the dugout to the field for the purpose of relaying the pitch or play call is allowed. The rationale is to improve the pace of the game and maintain the integrity of a team’s signs.

• All new field construction will require the outfield fence distance to be 200 feet in left and right fields. This acknowledges the continued offensive production in NCAA softball and creates a more equitable experience.

• Visible action clocks are allowed to assist in enforcing all timing rules equitably. This will help enforce the time between innings and pitches to improve the pace and flow of the game. The use of visible clocks has been effective in Major and Minor League Baseball and NCAA baseball to improve the pace of play.

• The previously approved rules change for 2024 is to standardize ball specifications with the NFHS and USA Softball to a maximum compression of 275-375 pounds. It is required by January 1, 2024 and is expected to improve inventory availability and assist in cost containment.

• A previous change also requires sideline and home run fences constructed of a hard material (wood, concrete, brick) to be padded by January 1, 2027. The padding must be no higher than 1 foot off the ground and extend to the top of the wood, concrete or brick or 6 feet from the ground, whichever is shorter. This is required for any field hosting NCAA softball competition.