League Rules




703-746-5595;  If there is rain in the area, call this number for cancellations.  All games should be played when allowed by the field coordinators.


Alexandria City Parks and Recreation has provided the league with a permit for the field on the schedule.  Each team should bring a copy of their field permit to their games.  The fields will be set up for games by the city staff.  If you need asistance with locked gates or lights, please call Marvin Elliott at 571-218-0802.  The Four Mile Run gate code is 3700 and lights are programmed to turn on at 8:00 PM.


The winner of the Abner Doubleday Softball League wins the very beautiful and valuable Ruthkosky Trophy.  The trophy was designed and built by creative artist Kenneth Peterson and is the most coveted athletic award in the intellectual property field.


The league will consist of twelve teams.  Due to field limitations, no further teams may be added to the league.  Teams from the previous season will be given first opportunity to join the league the following season.

SPORTSMANSHIP:  The league strives for optimal and exceptional sportsmanship.  All captains are responsible for the behavior of their teams players. No player should confront opposing players at any time.  Team captains or a designated field captains should meet before the game to establish ground rules and these field captains are responsible for game related issues including disputed calls.  Opposing captains should first report poor sportsmanship to the other team captain.  Any players exhibiting unsportsmanlike behavior should then be reported to the league.  Multiple reports of poor behavior for the same player will result in a player being expelled from league activities.

THE LEAGUE HAS A ZERO TOLERANCE RULE WITH REGARD TO PERSONAL CONFRONTATION AND FIGHTING. Players who fight will not be permitted to play in the game or any future games. 




#1 - CAPTAINS: Each team is required to have a TEAM captain from the PTO.  At each game, designated FIELD captains will meet prior to the game to establish ground rules.  The field captain will be the contact person throughout the game for disputes, line-up changes and the like.  All disputes and discussions should be between the captains.

#2 - PLAYERS:  Team players must be USPTO employees and spouses thereof, former USPTO employees and spouses thereof, members of the PTOS and spouses thereof, and no more than three additional players per game.  If a team has more than three additional players in the game, the team forfeits the game and is ineligible for the playoffs.

#3 - LINE-UP:  The batting order must include all players first and last names.  Each player must have their PTO ID or drivers license.  If a players does not have the required identification, the player is considered one of the three additional players for the game.   Teams are not permitted to use an additional player by removing one of the three original additional players from the game.

#4 – CO-ED TEAM RULES: Each team must have at least one woman fielder at all times. If a team does not have at least one women fielder, the team will only be allowed to use a maximum of 9 fielders including a catcher. The team will also be assessed an automatic out each time through the batting order. The automatic out will be assessed before the first batter in the batting order. The opening inning will start with one out due to the automatic out assessed before the first batter. If the woman fielder arrives late to the game, she will be placed in the last position of the batting order and following that at-bat, no further outs will be assessed before the first batter. If the one woman fielder is injured during the game and another woman fielder is not available, a player may not be substituted in the field for the injured woman player. The batting position of the woman player will be assessed with an out in the batting order and the injured woman may not bat. The injured woman may not return to the field if her turn in the field or batting order is missed.  Each team must include one male.  The same rules apply to the at least one male. 

#5 – UMPIRES/DISPUTED CALLS: The Abner Doubleday Softball League has no umpires. In the case of disputed calls, the final decision on all disputed calls will alternate between the team captains of the two teams with the visiting team captain having the first final decision and the home team captain having the second final decision. Further disputes will be settled in the same, alternating manner. The captain must notify the opposing captain of an officially disputed call.  Again, all discussions must be between the team's field captains.

 #6 – BALLS AND STRIKES: Balls and strikes will be determined using a strike mat and are called by the catcher. The official league strike mat is 24" x 36" and has a "V"-shaped cut out that is placed adjacent to home plate.  In the event that no official strike mat is availabe and each team brings a strike mat to the game, the larger of the two mats will be used.   If the pitched ball hits any portion of the strike mat, the pitch is a strike.  The size of the mat and the rule of touching any part of the mat is to both encourage batters to swing at decent pitches and prevent arguments.

#7 - PITCH COUNT:  The initial count on a batter is one ball and one strike. If the ball hits any portion of the mat on the fly, it is considered a strike. AFTER a batter has two strikes, the batter is permitted one foul ball. If the batter hits a second foul ball AFTER accumulating two strikes, the batter is out.


#8 - STANDINGS: A team’s total record will count toward playoff rankings with winning percentage used to rank playoff order in the event of cancellations and ties. Tie games will be counted as a ½ win and a ½ loss.  Games that cannot be made-up will not count in the calculation of winning percentage.  Games that cannot be played by one team will result in a 9-0 forfeit.  Games that are rescheduled and not played will not count in the calculation of winning percentage.  Teams are expected to make every effort to make-up missed games.  A team cannot miss more than two games and qualify for playoffs. If a team forfeits a game for roster violations, it is ineligible for the playoffs and the next highest ranked team will qualify for the final playoff slot.


        If two teams are tied for the same seed by win percentage, then the following steps will break the tie:

1 - head-to-head results for the two teams

2 - average runs/game given up for the year

3 - average runs/game scored for the year

4 – heads/tails coin flip -  The winner gets the higher seed and the loser gets the lower seed.


If three or more teams are tied for the same seed, then the following steps will break the tie.    At each step, if all teams are tied, then they all move onto the next step.

1 - head-to-head results amongst all teams in the tie-breaking pool

2 - average runs/game given up for the year

3 - average runs/game scored for the year

4 – all teams flip a coin.  In each flip, teams that get tails are out and the teams with heads continue to a subsequent coin flipping until there is only one team with heads and they win the seed.

- (If three or more teams are tied for the same seed and head-to-head results amongst all teams in the tie-breaking pool, then one team must have beaten all of the other teams in the pool to win the tie breaker.  If no team has beaten all the other teams, then the team having the worst head-to-head record is removed and head to head results are recalculated. This process is repeated until there is one team that has beaten all the others.  If the last 2 or more teams never played each other, or are all tied head-to-head, proceed to step 2 with all teams re-included.)


At all points in the three-or-more scenario, the goal is to extract the top team.  If there is another playoff seed available, the remaining teams start the process from the beginning under one of the two tie breaking scenarios described above.  To be clear, at no point is the loser of a tie breaker in the three-or-more scenario given preference over other teams in the pool once the top team is extracted.


At each step of the three-or-more tiebreaker scenario, if one team is ahead of the others, then that team is awarded the seed in question and the remaining teams reconduct the tiebreaker scenario from the beginning using a two-way or three-or-more scenario if another playoff seed is available. 

At each step of the three-or-more tiebreaker scenario, if two teams are tied and ahead of the other teams, then the two teams are extracted from the larger group and processed as a two-team tie until one team wins the tie-breaker.  The other team is returned to the larger group and a new tie-breaking analysis is started from the beginning if another playoff seed is available. 

At each step of the three-or-more tiebreaker scenario, if three or more teams (as an example, teams A, B, C) are tied for the lead over one or more teams (D, E), then those three or more teams (A, B, C) are extracted from the larger group and the tiebreaking procedure is conducted from step 1 for just teams A, B, and C until one team wins the seed or two teams win the tie over the third team and further tie breakers are determined between those two teams.  Once a team wins the seed, the remaining teams return to the larger pool with D and E and a new tie-breaking analysis is started from the beginning if another playoff seed is available.


#9 - PLAYOFFS: Normally, the top SIX teams will make the playoffs. Teams will be seeded according to the tie breakers outlined above. The top two teams will have first round byes. The highest ranked team will play the lowest ranked team in all subsequent rounds. The highest ranked team will be the home team during the playoffs. For the 2019 season, all teams will make the playoffs as scheduled by the City.  The seedings will be ranked as above.

#10 - PLAYOFF ROSTERS: Each team captain must submit a playoff roster to the league commissioner no later than 2 weeks before the seasons last scheduled game date. The playoff roster must include all team members who intend to play for their team during the playoffs. No player can be included on more than one teams playoff roster. Only those players listed on the team's playoff roster will be allowed to play in that team's playoff games. The Commissioner will provide the playoff rosters of each team prior to the playoffs. The team captains will be responsible for comparing the opposing team's batting order for each playoff game against the opposing team's playoff roster. Violation of this rule by any player will result in forfeiting the playoff game by the team of said player. If the team captain notices a discrepancy between the opposing teams batting order and playoff roster, the team captain should make the opposing team aware of said discrepancy and provide an opportunity to fix that discrepancy prior to the start of the game. Opposing captains may ask for ID. Forfeits will be decided by the Commissioner based on evidence provided by the team captains.


#11 – GAME TIME: Games start at the time noted on the schedule and each team must have a minimum of 8 players to officially start the game. At game time and if the fields are available, if a team does not field at least 8 players, it is considered a forfeit, which counts as a win for the team with sufficient players, and a loss for the team with insufficient players.  However, the coach of the team with sufficient players has the option to reschedule the game instead of receiving the forfeit. The coach of the team with sufficient players also has the option to accept the win by forfeit, and play as a non-game scrimmage.

#12 – OFFICIAL GAMES: Games have a 7-inning duration if time allows. Games shortened due to time or weather are considered official when the losing team bats four times. Incomplete games may be called on account of weather (mud, rain, lightning) or time conflicts. In this event, the last full inning will count towards the final score. If the game is canceled prior to being official, the make-up game will start from the beginning. If a shortened, official game is tied before being completed, the game will be considered a tie.

#13 - RAINOUTS/CANCELLATIONS: Call the rain line for field availability.  If there is lightening or heavy rain at game time, the game will be postponed. Rainouts should be rescheduled as quickly as possible. In the event of a cancellation, the field coordinators will provide a make-up date to the league.  If the fields are not available for whatever reason, the two teams should try to both agree on a makeup date. If the two coaches cannot agree to a make up date, then the game will not be played, and it will count as neither a win, nor a loss nor a tie for either team.  If one team cannot field at least 8 players on the agreed upon make-up date, the game is considered a forfeit. 

#14 – FIELD POSITIONS: Each team may field 10 players and substitute freely in the field. Each team must field at least 8 players or be subject to forfeit (see rule 11.) If during the course of the game, a player is hurt, a team may play with less than 8 players. Teams with 9 players must supply a their own catcher. The opposing team will supply a non fielding catcher for teams with 8 or fewer players.

#15 – BATTING ORDER: The captain of each team MUST provide a copy of their batting order to the opposing team captain prior to the beginning of each game.  Late arriving players must be placed at the end of the batting order. When an early leaving player is removed from the batting order, their spot in the batting order will be skipped for all future times through the batting order. Each team captain shall notify the opposing team captain of changes in the batter order prior to the change being made.  The opposing captain must be notified of all changes in the batting order or a batting position will be considered out of order and the batter will be called out. The lineup is considered out of order once a pitch is thrown to the batter out of order.

#16 – INJURIES: Injured players may be removed from the batting order and may not return to the game. An injured player will only be allowed to bat if they are capable of running to at least first base. Upon the conclusion of the play, a substitute runner can be provided for the injured player.  The substitute runner will be the person making the last out. When an injured player is removed from the batting order, their spot in the batting order will be skipped for all future times through the batting order. See RULE 4 for injuries to the last remaining female or male players in a line-up.

#17 - GROUND RULES:  Captains should agree to ground rules prior to the game. This rule should be used to establish ground rules for the game and specific rules for the field in special circumstances, for example if standing water is on the field.

#18 - FOUL BALLS:  Fair or Foul Ball calls made along the foul line will be called by the catcher in a loud voice. See Rule 5 for disputes.

#19 - BASE UMPIRES:  First and Third base coaches are responsible for calls at their respective bases. Calls at second base are made by the closest fielder that is not involved in the play, such as the pitcher. See Rule 5 for disputes.


#20 - GAME BALLS:  Each team is required to present two team-marked new or semi-new game balls prior to the game.  The balls should be placed along the backstop behind home plate.  The captains must agree to use a primary ball for the duration of the game.  If a ball is lost or out of play for a prolonged period of time, a second ball will be used for a time equal for each team.  Each team must use the same game ball for the duration of the game.  The required ball is a 12" 52/300 ASA approved ball with the ASA logo.  The ASA approved 52/300 is mandatory.

#21 - BATS:  Bats must be ASA approved.  Older bats may be used if agreed to by the opposing captain.  Bats that are prohibited from ASA games are not permitted in the league.  Each team has a copy of prohibited bats.

#22 - PITCHING:  Pitchers must pitch from the pitchers mound and no closer to home plate.  If there are multiple pitchers mounds, the pitcher may pitch from any mound or in the spaces between mounds.

No quick pitches are permitted.  The pitcher must have the ball in their possession on the pitchers mound (or on the spot of the pitch from between the mounds) for at least 3 full seconds prior to the pitch to allow the batter ample time to set in the batters box.  If an obvious quick pitch is thrown, the pitch may be played or designated an automatic quick-pitch ball by the batter or team captain.  If a second quick pitch is thrown to the same batter, the batter will be awarded SECOND base.  If a pitcher continues to quick pitch in an obvious manner to a second batter, then the opposing captain must remove the pitcher from the position.  Failure to do so will result in a forfeit.

Illegal Pitches:  Pitches that are OBVIOUSLY over 12 feet high or that OBVIOUSLY do not have an arc equal to or above the batters height should be called illegal no-pitches by the catcher OR batter. The hitter has the option of swinging at these pitches. A no-pitch is neither a ball or a strike unless the batter swings at the pitch. This rule is only for OBVIOUSLY flat or arced pitches. Captains may not dispute a no-pitch called by the catcher or batter, but may dispute a strike where the catcher fails to call a no pitch or the batter calls it late. 

#23 - OVERTHROWS: A "live ball" is one that is in play on the field and a "dead ball" is one that leaves the field. If the ball is live, the runner may advance bases at their own risk. If the ball is dead, the runner is awarded two bases from where they were when the ball left the thrower's hand.

If a fielder overthrows a base and the ball remains in play, the runner may continue advancing AT THEIR OWN RISK. If a ball hits a fence, but stays on the field, it is still in play. If a ball leaves the field area, the runners continue to the next base from where they were when the ball left the thrower's hand plus one more base. At fields without fences, captains should agree to field boundaries prior to the game. Generally, out of play should begin just short of the players benches and where there are field obstructions.

Example A - The shortstop overthrows 1st base and the ball hits the fence. If the runner attempts to advance to second base and the 1st baseman throws the ball to the 2nd baseman, who then tags the runner, the runner is OUT.

Example B - A batter is running to first base, the shortstop overhrows 1st base and the ball goes over the fence. The runner continues to 1st base, plus one more base to finish at 2nd base. A runner who started at 2nd base continues to third base and is awarded one more base to score.

Example C - The shortstop overthrows 1st base and the ball hits the fence and remains in play. The runner advances to second base and the 1st baseman does not retreive the ball. The runner may advance AT THEIR OWN RISK to third base or home plate.

#24 - INNING RUN LIMITS:  In the first 5 innings of the game, a team is limited to scoring no more than 6 runs.  In the 6th and 7th innings, there is no limit to the number of runs for aninning.  (This allows for team that is behind to have an opportunity to catch up with the team leading.)

#25-  PLAYS AT HOME PLATE:  For all plays involving a runner going home, the catcher (or another fielder) must catch and have possession of the ball and touch the plate to force a player out at home.  The runner does not need to be tagged and should not be tagged.  Runners cannot slide into the catcher and should run directly to home plate or slightly behind home plate and away from the fielder.  The catcher should stand on the field side of home plate to catch a ball from the fielders (however, this is a recommendation as the throw could lead a catcher anywhere.)

If a runner obviously runs past the point half-way between 3rd base and home plate (or more), they are committed to going home, are able to be forced out and cannot run back to third base.  This is the "commit line" and may be marked throughout the game.  This line should generally not be a point of contention and players may get into a run down.  The point of this rule is to prevent collisions at home plate for the safety of both the runner and the fielder.

#26 - GENERAL RULES: All standard softball rules apply (examples include: no leading or stealing bases, the infield fly rule, pop-ups must be higher than the batter's head to be considered an out when caught in the air by the catcher in foul ground.)



Please make the best efforts to use the approved ASA softballs and approved bats for the safety of the fielders.

No metal spikes are permitted.