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NCAA Designated Hitter

Both Nine and Ten-Player DH Rulings

  • It is important for the umpire-in-chief and representatives from both teams confirm that the lineups presented at the pregame meeting are correct. Rule 7-2-b-1

  • Pinch hitters can be used for the DH. Rule 7-2-b-4

  • Any substitute hitter for a DH, becomes the DH. Rule 7-2-b-4

In a nine or ten player lineup a replaced DH cannot re-enter the game in any capacity. Rule 7-2-b-4

  • Any substitute who runs for the DH, becomes the DH. Rule 7-2-b-6

In a nine or ten player lineup a replaced DH cannot re-enter the game in any capacity. Rule 7-2-b-4

  • A DH cannot pinch-run. Rule 7-2-b-6

  • The DH listed in the starting lineup must come to bat at least one time. Rule 7-2-b-2


1. The opposing team changes pitchers. Rule 7-2-b-2

2. Or the DH becomes ill or injured before their time to bat. Rule 7-2-b-2

  • A DH can only bat in his original spot in the batting order, the DH is “locked” into that spot. Rule 7-2-b-7

Note: When the DH enters on defense, he must bat in his same spot in the order.

  • In a nine or ten player lineup when the pitcher is moved to another defensive position, the DH is terminated for that team for the remainder of the game. Rule 7-2-b-8, Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 1

  • A substitute for the DH can be announced when it is the DH’s turn to bat. Rule 7-2-b-13

  • The DH may not sit in the bullpen, unless he is a catcher in the bullpen. Rule 7-2-b-15

  • At the time of a pitching change, the coach shall indicate to the plate umpire the playing status of the removed pitcher. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 3

Once the coach has reached the dugout, the coach may not make additional changes for the removed pitcher. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 3

  • A nine and ten-player DH lineup can switch back and forth throughout a game when (specific parameters) are met. Rule 7-2-b-5, Rule 7-2-b-10, Rule 7-2-b-15-Note 1, Rule 7-2-b-15-Note 3

Nine-Player P/DH Rulings

  • It is not mandatory that a team designate a hitter for the pitcher at the pre-game meeting:

1. When the pitcher is listed in a (nine-player) batting order, the pitcher automatically becomes the DH. Rule 7-2-b-3

2. The pitcher is then considered two players, pitcher and DH. Rule 7-2-b-3

3. Both, the pitcher and the DH (P/DH) and can be substituted for. Rule 7-2-b-3

Ten-Player DH Rulings

  • The DH is a player selected to bat for the starting pitcher and all subsequent pitchers without changing the status of the pitcher(s) in the game. Rule 7-2-b-1

  • When a DH is going to bat for a starting pitcher, they must be included in the starting lineup cards, presented to the umpire-in-chief prior to the game beginning. Rule 7-2-b-1

  • At the pre-game meeting when a team lists ten-players on his lineup card, but fails to indicate who is the DH, the following will happen:


The umpire-in-chief will direct the team representative to designate which of the nine players, excluding the pitcher will be the DH. Rule 7-2-b-1

  • After the game has started and a team has listed ten-players on his lineup card, but has failed to indicate who is the DH and the opposing head coach informs the umpire-in-chief of the omission, then:

1. The player listed, who has not taken a defensive position while the team is on the field, is the DH. Rule 7-2-b-11-a

2. Or if the team has not yet taken the field on defense, the head coach of that team will select the player that should have been listed as the DH. Rule 7-2-b-11-b


  • In a ten-player line up the DH can enter on defense; this terminates the DH. Rule 7-2-b-12

Nine-Player DH Becomes Ten-Player DH When

  • In the nine-player P/DH, when the DH is replaced (changing from a nine to a ten-player lineup), the pitcher may remain in the game as pitcher. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 1

Exceptions: the pitcher cannot:

1. Move to a defensive position. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 1

2. Return as the DH. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 1

3. Once a player leaves the offensive lineup, they cannot return to bat. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 1

Ten-Player DH Becomes a Nine-Player DH When

  • The pitcher in a ten-player lineup may pinch-hit or pinch-run, only for the DH. Rule 7-2-b-10


That pitcher then becomes the P/DH in a nine-player lineup. Rule 7-2-b-10

  • The DH in a ten-player lineup enters as pitcher:


This creates a nine-player DH lineup. Rule 7-2-b-12

Both Nine and Ten-Player DH Terminated When:

Any time the pitcher is moved to another defensive position, the DH is terminated for that team for the remainder of the game. Rule 7-2-b-8, Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2

Once a pinch-hitter bats for any player in the batting order, then (after batting) enters the game to pitch, the DH role is terminated for that team for the remainder of the game. Rule 7-2-b-9

When a player (on defense) switches to pitcher, this terminates the DH’s role for that team for the remainder of the game. The DH can then play the defensive player’s position.

Rule 7-2-b-14

Ten-Player DH is Terminated When:

  • Once a DH assumes a position on defense in a ten-player lineup, this terminates the DH role for that team for the remainder of the game. Rule 7-2-b-12

  • When a pitcher in a ten-player DH lineup moves to another defensive position, this terminates the DH’s role for the remainder of the game. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2

1. The pitcher just moved to another defensive position, can now bat in the terminated DHs spot in the batting order. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2

2. Or when multiple defensive change are made, the pitcher now playing another defensive position can bat for any one of the substituted players. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2

The head coach will inform the umpire of players spots in the batting order. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2

Example: In the top of the ninth, the non-batting pitcher Jones moves to first base and relief pitcher Smith enters the game. Removed pitcher Jones would then bat in the eight spot where the replaced first baseman was batting. The DH Anderson batting in the three spot is terminated and the relief pitcher Smith now bats in Anderson’s three spot. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2

3. The pitcher that was removed and now is playing another defensive position can return as a pitcher once.

Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2


If the pitcher was removed on a second trip during the same inning or after the third charged defensive conference involving a coach. Rule 7-2-b-15 Note 2

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High School 2021 DP/DH Rule

Designated Hitter Overview

A coach at the pregame meeting can choose to:

1. Not use a designated hitter, the entire game.

2. Use a nine-player Defensive Player / Designated Hitter, DP/DH line up. 

3. Use a traditional ten-player DH, Designated Hitter lineup.

Note #1: Defining which DH format will be used in the game is primary. Second and more important, do not mix conventional ten-player rulings with the new nine-player DP/DH rulings.

Note #2: Important, in a nine-player DP/DH line up only the starting DP/DH can be the DH.

Note #3: When the nine-player DP/DH lineup is being used and a substitute enters as a new non-batting DP / defensive player, the nine-player DP/DH lineup converts to a ten-player DP/DH lineup.

Note #4: Should the starting DP/DH re-enter in a defensive role, the ten-player DP/DH lineup reverts back to a nine-player DP/DH lineup.

Note #5: The starting DP/DH, a re-entering starting DP/DH or any legal substitute can be the DP/defensive player.

Note #6: NFHS has determined that a courtesy runner is not allowed for the DH when using the nine-player DP/DH lineup. Check with your own state association regarding this ruling.  

Nine-player DP/DH, 

●      The coach may choose to use a nine-player DP/DH lineup and select any player to be both the DH and play defense. HS Rule 3-1-4-b

Example: Tommy Jones in the four spot is both, the shortstop and the designated hitter, aka DP/DH.

●      A legal substitute may replace the defensive player/DP. HS Rule 3-1-4-b

Example: Billy Smith comes off the bench and enters the game as the new non-batting shortstop, creating a ten-player DP/DH lineup.

Explanation: A starting DP/DH can have substitutes enter as a non-batting defense player/DP and the starting DP/DH  would remain as the batting DH, this creates a ten-player lineup

●      Any starting player may re-enter once., HS Rule 3-1-3

Example: Tommy Jones the starting DP/DH re-enters for non-batting DP Billy Smith.

Explanation: The starting DP/DH can re-enter once as a DP. The ten-player lineup reverts back to a nine-player lineup when the starting DP/DH re-enters as the DP, again becoming a DP/DH.

Nine-player DP/DH Lineup is Terminated When:

●      The DH is terminated in nine-player DP/DH line up, the following two ways for the remainder of the game when:

1. A substitute or prior substitute for the defensive player in a ten-player DP/DH lineup plays an offensive role. HS Rule 3-1-4-b-1

Example: A substitute playing the defensive player in the ten-player DP/DH lineup becomes a pinch runner.

Explanation: When the ten-player DP/DH defensive player enters any offensive role, the DH is terminated for the remainder of the game.

2. A legal substitute either hits or runs for a starting DP/DH. HS Rule 3-1-4-b-2 

Example: A legal substitute pinch runs or bats for the starting DP/DH, in the nine-player DP/DH lineup.

Explanation: When a legal substitute enters any offensive role for the starting nine-player DP/DH, the DH is terminated for the remainder of the game

Nine-player DP/DH Rulings 

●      A designated hitter will be selected prior to the start of the game and his name listed on the initial lineup card. HS Rule 3-1-4

●      Any (starting player) may be a designated hitter, not just the pitcher. HS Rule 3-1-4

The designated hitter can continue to bat for any substitutes, who replace the original (defensive player, DP). HS Rule 3-1-4

●      A team cannot use a designated hitter if he is not listed on the starting lineup prior to the game. HS Rule 3-1-4