Jane and myself pitched up bright and early to the 'Hub' in Regent's park for what we thought was going to be a gentle introduction to the whys and wherefors of softball umpiring. It turned out that instead we were getting the full 2-day course squeezed into one day! Ok, a few of the finer details were left out and we didn't do very much 'practical' but still.....my slightly hungover head was ready to explode by the end of it.
All in all though, it was very useful. I think we have picked up some hints and tips which will help with our game - for example, when you have more than one forced out, always go for the runner who is furthest around first and work your way back to the first base runner. Not only because they will be first to score, but also to avoid taking the 'force' off the other players. Also, in order to get an out the ball has to make it to the base before the runner. Therefore, if both ball and runner get there at the same time, the runner is safe as the ball has not beaten them.
We were both quite surprised and intrigued by the 'in-field fly' rule....which I think I just about understand the logic behind...but am not going to attempt to explain here.
Informally, it seems that the umpires let a lot more go in division 4 games, (for example, I don't think they enforce such rules as 'if one player is wearing a pink cap then the whole team must also wear a pink cap!) and the trainer admitted that he is as much a coach as an umpire at these games.
It was good to meet people from other teams, and reassuring to know that even players from teams in divison 2 were unsure about a lot of the rules!
The trainer explained that it is the umpires job to 'look for the out', get the game 'over with as soon as possible', and stay in control. In other words, don't mess with the umpire, they can remove or eject you and they are always right - much like librarians!