Softball Guidelines 2019-20

Table of Contents

Section 1 - General Playing Guidelines

  • Sponsoring Institutions
  • Sport Committee Leadership
  • Start Times & Scheduling
  • Cancelations & Rescheduling (Halted Game Rule)
  • Conference Scouting Policy
  • Home Team Responsibilities
  • Pre-Game Protocol
  • Official Conference Ball
  • Postseason Conference Call
  • Weekly Awards
  • Annual Awards
  • Regional and National Award Voting
  • Sports Information & Statistics

Section 2 - Sportsmanship

  • Creating an Atmosphere of Respect
  • Expectations for Good Sportsmanship

Section 3 - Championship Guidelines

  • Championship Timeline
  • Coaches Meetings
  • Championship Format
  • Championship Seeding
  • Protests & Extra Innings
  • Uniforms & Home Team Designation
  • Championship Awards
  • Weather
  • Hosting
    • Hosting Criteria
    • Contest Management
    • Safety & Athletic Training
    • Championship Awards
    • Locker Rooms
    • Officials
    • NAC Banners
    • Spectators & Crowd Control
    • Alcohol & Tobacco
    • Concessions
    • Tickets
    • Championship T-shirts & Merchandise
    • Sports Information

Section 4 - Appendix

 

SECTION 1 - GENERAL PLAYING GUIDELINES

Sponsoring Institutions (7)
2019-20: Canton, UMaine-Farmington, Husson, NVU-Johnson, NVU-Lyndon, UMaine-Presque Isle, Thomas

Sport Committee Leadership

  • Chair: Kat McKay, UMaine-Farmington
  • Vice Chair: TBD
  • Administrative Liaison: Cyndi Pratt, UMaine-Farmington

Start Times & Scheduling
Each team shall play each other twice per season in a doubleheader, alternating home and away sites every year.

  • Start times for mid-week, weekday doubleheaders are recommended to begin no later than 3:00 p.m.
  • Start times for all weekend games should be no earlier than 1:00 p.m. and no later than 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 12:00 p.m. on Sunday unless mutually agreed upon by both institutions.
  • NCAA guidelines for extra innings will apply.

Cancelations & Rescheduling

  • Conference members must make conference games their first priority at all times. All canceled games should be made up if at all possible. All changes must be communicated to the conference office. When weather dictates schedule changes for back-to-back conference play, all teams involved in that weekend should be consulted. 
  • The conference commissioner has the authority (in consultation with the executive committee) to adjust conference schedules in order to ensure the completion of regular season games.
  • In the event that a contest is moved due to unplayable field conditions, the original host will remain the home team, regardless of the new location (i.e. neutral field, opponent’s field).
  • As permitted by Section 6.17, all NAC Conference games will utilize the halted game rule when a contest is in progress and cannot be completed that day. The NCAA rule 6.17 states:

6.17 A halted game shall be declared by the plate umpire if play must be temporarily suspended with the intent that it will be continued at some later time or date. Before the restart of a halted game, the plate umpire shall conduct a pregame meeting to verify the lineup information remains correct (for example, note uniform number changes necessitated by a change in jerseys, personnel no longer available, etc.). When play resumes after having been temporarily suspended, it must start at exactly the point of it being halted. The lineups and batting orders of both teams must be exactly the same as they were, subject to the rules of substitution, and any player who played or was announced as a substitute before the game was halted, must be in the lineup when play resumes or be ineligible for the remainder of the game.

Every effort should be made to continue the game with the plate umpire’s lineup cards.

6.17.2 Whether the halted-game rule will be used must be determined at the pregame meeting. Use of the halted-game rule also can be determined by conference ruling or tournament policy.

6.17.3 During the regular season, if a game is both halted and regulation, regulation will take precedence assuming the reasonable efforts made to complete the game have failed.

Conference Scouting Policy
Dissemination of scouting information on member institutions to non-conference institutions is not permitted beyond video (i.e. phone, e-mail, written materials, etc. are impermissible). It is permissible to share scouting information about conference opponents with other conference members.

Home Team Responsibilities

  • Set competition times/sites (if a venue is not playable, if there are two games, etc.).
  • Provide a field/venue that meets minimum NCAA regulation standards.
  • Provide a certified athletic trainer at each contest. All visiting teams must provide their own training supplies.
  • Provide game personnel including: 2 officials, official scorer, stat keeper, crowd control, field/ball maintenance staff, etc.
  • Provide event programs including the lineups for each team.
  • Provide locker rooms for the visiting team at all games.
  • Provide an athletic administrator/site director who is responsible for sportsmanship/behavior of fans.
  • If playing at an off-campus venue, the home team is responsible for having a game administrator present at least one hour prior to the contest to greet the visiting team.
  • Assist NAC institutions with a list of local food and hotel accommodations.

Pre-game Protocol

  • NCAA pregame procedures are in effect.
  • A pre-game handshake at home plate between respective Head Coaches and team Captains or representatives, will serve as a symbolic gesture of sportsmanship.
  • The standard NAC sportsmanship advisory must be read prior to each game:

The NCAA and the North Atlantic Conference promote good sportsmanship by the student-athletes, coaches and spectators at today’s contest. We request your cooperation by supporting the participants and officials in a positive manner. Profanity, racial or sexist comments, or other intimidating actions directed at officials, student-athletes, coaches or team representatives will not be tolerated and are grounds for removal from (site of competition). Any spectators that enter the playing area during a contest, will be removed from (site of competition).

Official Conference Ball
Rawlings NC 12L - Yellow is the official conference ball and must be used in all conference games. Beginning in 2011, a ball adoption agreement with Worth has been in effect. Rawlings bought Worth in 2017 – the ball is the same and the agreement remains in place. The agreement includes a free bucket of practice balls (per institution/per year) when game balls are ordered.

Post-Season Conference Call
A conference call of all coaches will be scheduled following the season, at which point sport-specific issues and ideas will be discussed. The Sport Chairperson will be responsible for scheduling the call and will work with the conference office on the call agenda. For all sport conference calls, all future agenda items must be submitted two weeks prior to call so that these can be distributed to all coaches and AD’s prior to conference call. (November 2010)

Weekly Awards
Weekly awards begin the Monday following the first week of competition in which at least half of the member schools compete, and ends following the final NAC regular season game. Institutions are responsible for nominating student athletes for weekly awards through the NAC website.

  • Only regular season contest stats will be considered, even if tournament games begin during the week in which awards are given.
  • When contests occur prior to or the 50% threshold, and during the season when the 50% threshold is not met, player stats will be considered for the following week’s awards.
  • Weekly nominations are due Monday at 10:00 AM and winners will be selected by the conference staff. 
  • Weekly awards selected for softball:
    • Player of the Week
    • Pitcher of the Week
    • Rookie of the Week

Annual Awards
Annual awards are selected through a vote by conference coaches and will be announced during the championship season. Coaches submit nominations and votes for annual awards at the conclusion of regular season conference play.

  • Annual awards selected for softball:
    • Player of the Year
    • Pitcher of the Year
    • Rookie of the Year
    • Senior Scholar Athlete
    • Coach of the Year
    • Sportsmanship Team (one member per team)
    • All-Conference First and Second Teams
      • The top pitcher, top catcher, top four infielders, top designated player, and top three outfielders will be named to the first team. A second team consisting of the next nine leading vote-getters will also be named.
      • Coaches may nominate up to SIX players from their own team regardless of position using the All-Conference Team form.
      • Only Conference statistics will be included on the ballot.
  • An All-Tournament Team will be named for the championship.
    • 3rd and 4th place teams receive two selections each.
    • 2nd place team receives three selections.
    • Champion receives three selections plus an MVP selection (four total).

Regional and National Award Voting
Coaches are strongly encouraged to become members of regional and national coaching groups, and to nominate worthy players and teams for award consideration. Participation in the voting process is strongly encouraged to increase the potential for the recognition of NAC student athletes.

Sports Information and Statistics
Sports Information staff are responsible for ensuring accurate game and statistical information, including:

  • Maintain an accurate schedule, including non-conference contests.
  • Notify the conference office about postponements and cancelations.
  • Maintain an accurate stat roster as required by the NCAA on the NAC website.
  • Submit the score of all home contests and away non-conference contests to the conference through the NAC website as soon as contests are complete.
  • Send packed stat game files to the visitor and upload the XML to both the NAC website and the NCAA statistics and score reporting site in a timely manner.
  • Submit nominations for weekly honors through the NAC website.
  • Submit nomination information and photos for preseason polls and annual awards according to NAC policy.
  • Assist coaches with preseason poll voting and the All-Conference nomination & voting process.

 

SECTION 2 - SPORTSMANSHIP

At the direction of the North Atlantic Conference Presidents and with the support of the Directors of Athletics, the conference embraces the theme "Creating an Atmosphere of Respect" for each of our sports. The ultimate goal for the NAC is to create an atmosphere that places the highest regard for exemplary behavior of all participants, coaches, administrators, fans and officials. The softball community has agreed to a set of behavioral expectations for coaches and student athletes.

Behavioral Objectives for “Creating an atmosphere of respect” Initiative

  • All conference members will show respect for the opponent, teammates, coaches, officials, and the game.
  • Conference members will establish high expectations for all, remembering that all individuals must represent their team, institution and conference well.
  • Coaches will interact with game officials in a respectful manner. 
  • Coaches will set a positive tone for their teams, exhibiting and expecting integrity and appropriate behavior.
  • Coaches will address issues regarding appropriate bench behavior and will support a positive environment for each contest
  • A conference pre-game protocol was accepted.  A pre-game handshake at home plate between respective Head Coaches and team Captains or representatives, will serve as a symbolic gesture for creating the desired atmosphere.
  • Following each NAC series, visiting coaches and event managers will have the option to provide feedback on the behavior of other coaches, student athletes and fans through the use of an evaluation tool aimed not at punitive action but on the enhancement of all NAC programs. To access the form online, go to www.nacathletics.com, and log into the administrative section of the website to obtain the Contest Feedback form.  The Commissioner will follow up with appropriate individuals on all feedback submitted.

  NAC Expectations for Good Sportsmanship (from NAC Bylaws):

  • Observing and supporting the rules of the game.
  • Promoting the spirit as well as the letter of the rules.
  • Placing fairness first as a goal in all competition.
  • Taking personal responsibility for high standards of play and conduct.
  • Showing civility toward competitors, coaches and officials.
  • Playing cleanly while playing hard.
  • Showing maturity and integrity in conduct on and off the field of play.
  • Being a gracious competitor and accepting both wins and losses with dignity.


SECTION 3 - CHAMPIONSHIP GUIDELINES

Championship Timeline 2020
Click below to visit the Championship Central.

Softball Championship

Last Play Date Monday, April 27
Pre-tournament Call Monday, April 27 - 11:00 AM (tentative)
NAC Championship Tournament Friday, May 1 - Sunday, May 3*

 
NAC Championship Coaches Meetings

  • The pre-tournament conference call for all participating teams is tentatively scheduled for Monday, April 27th at 11:00AM.
    • The date and time of the call is subject to change.
    • The Administrative Liaison and conference staff will facilitate this meeting. Participating institutions must have a representative on the call, preferably the head coach. However, the Athletic Director or another institutional representative may serve as a substitute for the coach if necessary. Coaches not participating in the tournament are welcome, but not required, to participate. An administrator from the host institution is expected to participate on the call.
  • Head coaches will meet briefly with officials and game administrators prior to all rounds of the tournament in a mandatory meeting to review ground rules, protests, extra innings, etc.

NAC Championship Format
Top four (4) teams qualify for the NAC Championship tournament, a double-elimination tournament hosted by the #1 seed. All games are seven-innings. Seeding will take place following the completion of all conference contests and will be announced on the conference website.

NAC Championship Tournament Game Times
Date Game Time
Friday, May 1 Game 1: #1 vs. #4 10:00 am
  Game 2: #2 vs. #3 12:00 pm
  Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser 2:00 pm
  Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner 4:00 pm
Saturday, May 2 Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser 12:00 pm
  Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner 12:00 pm
Sunday, May 3 Game 7: if necessary 1:00 pm

Game times listed for Championships are preferred. In cases where a disagreement occurs between the competing institutions, or when both institutions would like to schedule outside of the preferred game times, an Ad Hoc Committee will convene to make a determination. The committee will include Championship Chairperson, Commissioner, and Sport Liaison (unless the Sport Liaison is from one of the institutions competing, then another Administrator will be selected by the Commissioner).

When only three games can be played on day one due to weather or facility issues, necessitating that three games be played on day two, the order of games 3 and 4 may be reversed in order to preserve rest for the winners' bracket.

NAC Championship Seeding
The Conference Commissioner and Associate Commissioner will seed teams following the last NAC competition using results provided by the institution through the conference website. Tiebreaking results will be shared with the Sport Liaison, Sport Chair and Championships Chair.

  • Must have completed 2/3 of conference games to be eligible. Contests against institutions failing to meet this requirement will not be counted as conference contests for purposes of seeding. 

In case of a tie, the following tiebreaking procedures will be followed:

  • Head-to-head result (two-way tie).
  • In ties among three or more schools or when head-to-head results between two teams are equal, the following criteria will be applied, in order, until a team is (or teams are) separated. At that point, the process begins anew, (returning to the first criteria) with the remaining teams.
    • Best record among tied teams. During this step, the conference will only examine records of tied teams in contests with each other.
    • Comparison of results against conference opponents one team at a time starting with the highest ranked team and continuing in downward rank order until the tie is broken.
    • Comparison of results (win percentage, 2019) against non-conference common opponents. During this step, non-conference games with conference opponents will not be considered.
    • Comparison of winning percentage vs. NCAA Division III opponents (added 3/2009) with .500+ winning.
    • Overall winning percentage
    • Coin toss.

Protests & Extra Innings
All protests and extra innings will be handled in accordance with NCAA Regulations.

Championship Uniforms & Home Team Designation
The team designated as the home team for each tournament contest will wear home uniforms. Color of uniforms may be changed to accommodate teams playing back-to-back if agreed upon by both coaches.

  • Games 1 and 2: the higher seed shall be designated the home team.
  • Games 3, 4 and 5: 
    • The institution that has been the home team the fewer number of times.
    • If the two teams are equal in this respect but unequal in the number of times they were the visitor, then the team that has been the visitor more often shall be designated the home team.
    • It the two teams are equal in the number of times that they have been home and visitor, the following procedures shall be observed:
      • If the two teams have met previously, the visitor in the previous game shall be the home team in the game in question.
      • The team that was visitor in its preceding game shall be the home team, unless both teams were visitors in their preceding games.
      • Coin flip.
  • Game 6: the undefeated team shall be designated the home team.
  • Game 7: the teams will reverse home and away designation from Game 6 but will remain in the same dugout and uniforms.   

Championship Awards
The winning team will receive a plaque, traveling trophy, and t-shirts.

An All-Tournament Team will be named as follows (11 selections total):

  • 3rd and 4th place teams receive two selections each.
  • 2nd place team receives three selections.
  • Champion received three selections plus an MVP selection (four total).

Weather
If inclement weather occurs and games cannot be rescheduled by the day prior to the finals, the higher seeds will automatically advance. The decision to postpone/cancel must be made by Host AD, traveling AD and conference commissioner.  If inclement weather continue, the top seed will be declared the conference champion for the NCAA selections of the AQ’s. A rain or snow date will be built into the championship dates.

  • The home team must certify that their field or one within approximately 90 minutes of their campus will be playable throughout the tournament.  If weather precludes play on the scheduled dates, games may be moved to the next day or any subsequent days provided the institution can certify the field will be playable and the NCAA deadline for submission of the AQ will be met.  The host must secure a backup site that is playable prior to the deadline for the submission of the AQ or the game/s will be moved to an opponent’s site, starting with the site of the #2 seed. (January 2018)
  • The halted game will NOT be in effect during the NAC tournament, though as stated above with the NCAA halted game rule 6.17.2 Use of the halted-game rule also can be determined by conference ruling or tournament policy.

Softball Rain Contingency:

  • If the Tournament is canceled prior to beginning, the highest seed will receive the AQ.
  • If at any point the conference tournament is canceled and cannot be completed the following procedures will be followed in determining the conference automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament:
    • If between 0 and 2 games are completed, the highest seed will be the AQ recipient.
    • If between 3 and 5 games are completed, the highest undefeated seed will be the AQ recipient.
    • If 6 games are played, the winner of Game 6 will be the AQ recipient. 
    • If game 7 has been halted, but reached regulation (4 ½ or 5 innings), the winner would be the team leading at the point of the final full inning completed (eg. if the 5th, 6th or 7th inning has started but is not completed, the score reverts back to the last completed full inning).
    • If no play has begun by the end of Saturday, the tournament will revert to a four team single elimination tournament on Sunday. Pairings would be 1 vs 4, 2 vs 3 and the championship game to follow with times open due to field/weather. 


Championship Hosting

Hosting Criteria
Higher seeds in all rounds of Championship play have the opportunity to host, if they meet the following criteria:

  • Field must meet minimum NCAA Standards.
  • Skinned infield.
  • 25 feet (30 max) from home plate to the backstop.
  • The sideline fence, the outfield fence and the backstop must completely enclose the playing field.
  • Outfield fence should be a minimum of 190 and maximum of 220 feet.  A breakaway fence is acceptable.
  • Bench capacity for 24.
  • If there are two games back-to-back, the teams playing the second game must have access to a warm-up area.
  • Adequate Parking.
  • Adequate Security and Crowd Control.
  • Official scorer’s table on the sideline.
  • Visible score board.
  • NCAA regulation game balls must be provided by host institution.
  • Adequate and trained statistics crew.

Institutions should meet all guidelines to host conference championships.

  • Any institution that does not exactly meet the standards, but wishes to host, may submit a request with the hosting form to the commissioner for consideration at the August meeting of athletic administrators.
  • Host institution may request permission to use an off-site facility within approximately 90 minutes from their campus or located between host school and opponent, to meet host requirements for tournament games (March 2018).
  • If the higher seed is unable to meet the above hosting criteria, the next highest seed will have the opportunity to host.

Contest Management Staff
Host institutions shall provide appropriate contest management staff including:

  • Site Director
  • Security/crowd control
  • Official scorer
  • Stat personnel
  • Scoreboard operator
  • Official PA Announcer
  • Ball/field maintenance staff
  • Student or Staff hosts to assist visiting teams

Safety & Athletic Training

  • The NAC Sportsmanship Statement must be read before each game within the pregame protocol.
  • Bathroom Facilities must be adequate, in close proximity to the playing venue, and meet ADA requirements.
  • Certified athletic training personnel must be available on-site 90 minutes before game time and 30 minutes post-game.
  • Visiting teams must provide adequate athletic training supplies (tape, prewrap, icebags, etc.) for their own needs.
  • Access to emergency transport is required.

Championship Awards
Awards will be presented after the championship contest by a member of the conference office staff, the sport liaison, or a representative of the host institution.

  • The conference office orders plaques to have them delivered to the host institution in a timely manner.
  • Awards should be displayed prior to the championship game, if possible.
  • A script for the award ceremony will be distributed to the host, and includes All-Tournament Team members from previous games.

Locker rooms
Locker rooms and "chalk talk" boards must accommodate two teams for each game. Game times should be set to allow appropriate locker room space for each team.

Officials
The host institution must secure and pay officials for all rounds of tournament play. All games are to have three officials, and the same umpiring crews should not be used for more than two games, with the plate umpire rotating between games one and two. Every effort should be made to ensure that no individual umpire is behind the plate for more than one game during the entire tournament. However, the tournament director (in consultation with NAC staff on site) retains the authority to approve an exception based on the available supply of quality umpires. Exception would only be made for the “if necessary” championship game

NAC Banners
The NAC Banner should be displayed during the championship.

Spectators & Crowd Control
The responsibility for crowd control rests with the host institution and the Tournament Director. Administrators and coaches of participating institutions are expected to communicate with their students and other fans that support for teams should be done in a positive manner. The NAC sportsmanship statement should be communicated to fans before each contest, and is to be included in the championship program.

Alcohol & Tobacco
Alcohol and tobacco are not permitted and shall not be made available or be brought into any NAC championship event venue, which extends to other facilities (the championship site shall define “other facilities” – i.e. the parking lot).

Concessions
The host institution is encouraged to have food and beverages available for spectators at events. Sales from such ventures remain with the host institution.

Tickets
Ticket sales and concessions are optional. If a gate is charged, institutions are permitted to charge the same prices they utilized during the regular season. 

  • If a gate is being charged, all institutions must be notified in advance and complementary tickets for each tournament participant must be provided.
  • Complementary tickets will be limited to two institutional representatives and two tickets per roster member.

Championships T-shirts and Merchandise
Institutions may choose to sell NAC championship merchandise. All merchandise must be approved by the conference office in advance of the championship.

Championship Sports Information
Strong sports information staff members are vital to a successful championship tournament. The Associate Commissioner will work closely with SIDs to support the championship. Expectations include:

  • Confirm game times and details on the NAC website.
  • Maintain live scores and stats on the NAC website.
  • Provide updates on social media platforms using institution and conference handles and hashtags.
  • Submit the final score to the conference through the NAC website.
  • Send packed stat game file to the visitor and upload the XML file to the NAC website following the contest.
  • Share a game summary and box score with opponent, the conference office, and media outlets following all hosted contests (media outlets must be provided to host institution in advance). When possible, the Associate Commissioner will assist with game summaries and distribution.
  • Take a digital Championship Team photo and send it to the conference office immediately following the contest. The photo should also be shared with championship team.
  • Provide programs for all tournament contests. Game programs should include:
    • Name of all competing institutions
    • Complete roster of teams participating at specific site
    • Institutional synopsis of participating teams
    • NAC history/information etc.
    • Previous year’s tournament information including the previous sports champions
    • NAC/NCAA Sportsmanship expectations
    • NAC logo
    • School logos
    • Rawlings logo (sponsor)
    • Award Guys logo (sponsor)

 

SECTION 4 - APPENDIX


Updated 12/30/19