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The USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) is a volunteer, sports governing body, non-profit organization based in Kissimmee, Florida. It was founded in 1968, originally in Petersburg, Virginia.
Originally USSSA stood for United States Slow-pitch Softball Association. However, in 1998 USSSA expanded in other sports. Currently USSSA governs 13 sports across the US, Puerto Rico, various US Military bases, and Canada and has a membership of over 3.7 million.
The USSSA organization was formed after the founder's ideas were turned down at a national softball association meeting. The founders of the organization are Robert Mueller, James DiOrio, Ray Ernst, Frank Ciaccia and Ted Mazza. They used their newly formed organization to implement new developments. These developments include longer fences, 65 foot base paths, a smaller batter's box, widened media coverage, and encouraged greater financial support.
Their experimental world tournament in 1968 was a success. There were 50 different teams from 15 states. In 1997, the USSSA became the first multi-sports governing body.
For the men's slow-pitch softball league, the fences are to measure three hundred feet from home plate. The ball's circumference should be exactly twelve inches. The baselines should be sixty five to seventy feet in length. The distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate should be fifty feet. The batter's boxes, located on each side of the plate, should be five and a half feet long and 3 feet wide, forming a rectangle. Each team must have their equipment checked and approved by the USSSA Equipment Performance and Safety Standards Committee. They have the right to deny the use of equipment if it fails to meet current safety standards as set by the committee. A legal softball bat can not exceed thirty four inches in length and no more than two and a half inches in diameter. It also may not weigh more than thirty one and a half ounces. The performance standard for all non-wooden bats will be a Bat Performance Factor (BPF) of 1.20 or less. The legal ball must have an optic yellow cover and have "USSSA CLASSIC M" in one-eighths letters. No player is allowed to wear cleats made of metal. A player's cleat may have soft or hard rubber spikes.
A regulation slow-pitch softball game consists of seven innings. There are, however, situations that may allow the game to end before the seven innings are complete. If a team is up by twenty runs or more after the third inning, the game can be called. The run rule for the fourth inning is fifteen runs and ten runs after the fifth inning. If a team is forced to forfeit due to lack of players or not showing up, the winning team shall receive a victory, and a score of 7-0.
A team can consist of eleven players, one of which can hit but not play the field. When a player off the bench substitutes in for a starter, the manager of the team must notify the score keeper. The starting player may re-enter the game only once for any of the players currently in the game. When pitching the pitcher must have one foot on the pitcher's mound, and the free foot is allowed to be anywhere. The pitcher may hold the ball any way he chooses, but he must deliver the ball in an underhand motion at a slow speed. The pitched ball's arc must be at least three feet high from release and cannot exceed ten feet. The catcher must remain inside the designated catcher's box when the pitcher is in position and remain until the ball has passed home plate. Any pitch that lands on the plate will automatically be ruled a ball. Each batter starts with a one strike one ball count. Three strikes will result in an out and four balls will result in a base on balls. Any foul ball is considered a strike. If the batter already has two strikes and hits two foul balls he is out. The batting order for each team must be submitted to the official score keeper before the start of the game. In the case that an official score keeper is not present, the line up is to be turned into the umpire-in-chief.