"Batter's Interference" NFHS Rule Set
Simply leaning over home plate when a catcher is attempting to make a play is illegal. Rule 7-3-5-a, Pg. 45
When a batter's follow-through swing interferes with a cather's attempt to make a play. Rule 7-3-5-c, Pg. 45
Not making a reasonable effort to vacate a congested area when there is a throw to home plate, while there was time for the batter to move away. Rule 7- 3-5-d, Pg. 45
- When there are two outs and there is Batter's Interference:
The batter is always out. Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
- With less than two outs and the play is at first, second, or third base:
It is a delayed dead ball, let the play finish. Rule 5-1-Delayed Dead Ball Table-Activity #1, Pg.37
When the (attempt to put out a runner) is
It becomes an immediate dead ball. Rule 5-1-2-a-1, Pg. 38
The batter is called out. Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
All runners return to bases
at the time of
pitch. Rule 7-3-5-penalty,
- With less than two outs and the attempt to put out the runner is successful, the batter's interference is ignored. Rule 7-3-5-Penalty, Pg. 45
- After batter’s interference and the initial attempt to put out the runner is unsuccessful, no additional play is allowed. Rule 5-1-Delayed Dead Ball Table-Penalty #1 Pg. 37, Rule 5-2-2-a, Pg. 39
- When there is a play at home and less than two outs the runner is always out (tagged or not). Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
A. If the runner coming home is tagged out on the play:
The interference is ignored. Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
The ball remains live. Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
B. If the runner coming home is not tagged out on the play.
Time is called. Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
The runner is called out. Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
- If the pitch is a third strike and in the umpire’s judgment the batter’s interference at any base or at home plate prevented a double play, additional outs can be ruled. Rule 7-3-5-penalty, Pg. 45
NFHS Rule Set Three-Foot Running Lane & Offensive (Runner's) Interference
Applying the NFHS Set to the Above Video
As the batter-runner enters the running lane he is keeping both feet on the foul line, which is completely legal.
The batter-runner reaches half-way into the running lane, now both of his feet are in fair territory (out of the running lane) as he continues towards first base.
The first baseman initially misplays the ball, but the ball stays within a reach of the fielder. Because the ball stays within a reach of the defensive player after the initial attempt was misplayed, the defensive player is still protected from interference.
In the video the batter-runner interferes (contacts and tangles) with the first baseman preventing him from fielding the (within reach) misplayed ball, as the batter-runner then stumbles through and on to first base.
This play showcases how the violation of offensive (runner's) interference takes place, while the batter-runner could have used the three-foot running lane.
Any Runner is Out When:
- He interferes with a defensive player who has misplayed the initial attempt, but the defensive player moves less than a step and a reach to recover the misplayed ball and the runner interferes. Rule 8-4-2-g, Pg. 54
- He interferes with a throw, thrown ball or hinders a fielder’s initial attempt to field a batted ball that runner is out. Rule 8-4-2-g, Pg. 54, Rule 5-1-Dead Ball Table, Penalty #7, Pg. 36
It is an immediate dead ball. Rule 5-1-Dead Ball Table, Activity #7, Pg. 36
All other runners return to bases occupied at the time of the interference. Rule 8-2-9, Pg. 49
The Batter-Runner is Out When:
- He steps outside the three-foot running lane with an entire foot during the last half of the distance from home plate to first base and he interferes with a fielder or throw. Rule 8-4-1-g, Pg.53, 8-4-1-g-2, Pg.53
Exception: Running and stepping outside the three-foot running lane is ignored when:
1. It is to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball. Rule 8-4-1-g-1, Pg. 53
2. The batter-runner does not interfere with a fielder or a throw. Rule 8-4-1-g-1, Pg. 53
First point, the three-foot run lane is not an infraction or violation. It is a 3' x 45' lane beginning the last half the distance to first base that continues to first base, it is only a designated area. This area is provided so the batter-runner can (not must) use it. It is a safer lane for the batter-runner to run, to avoid interfering or colliding with the defense. When the batter-runner fails to use the three-foot running lane, is when the batter-runner becomes more susceptible to be called out for an offensive (runner's) interference infraction. The above video vividly illustrates and supports this point.
Second point, player safety and sportsmanship at all times should be the priority in High School baseball, this is very relevant pertaining to the three-foot running lane. Teaching the batter-runner to run on or straddling the foul line in the three-foot lane and to the inside of first base may be considered good aggressive coaching, it also can create serious collisions and injuries.
Batter-runners at full speed colliding with a defensive player trying to field a ball, catch a throw or cover a base can cause career ending collisions. Coaches who teach players what the three-foot running lane is and how it should be correctly used, understand both the benefits of doing so and the consequences of not.
When players are taught why and how to use the three-foot run lane everyone wins, it reduces controversy and it can prevent serious injuries. While getting on base, scoring and winning the game are important, none of them are more important than the health and future of a young player.
This article prepared for the National High School Coaches Association weekly newsletter .
Jim Bettencourt, NCOA, RCOA