There are nine starting players in softball. The amount of bench, or reserve, players varies depending on the league rules. Players that do not start the game can be replaced by beginning players by the coach. Depending on which beginning player is being replaced, what position she plays, and whether the game is slow-pitch or fast-pitch softball, the regulations for substitution change.
A pinch runner can be used in place of a starting player by the coach. A pinch runner can only replace a starting player in a game if the starting player has advanced to base. Because the starting player is typically a slower runner, the sole responsibility of the pinch runner is to run the bases.
Re-Entry of Starters
Starting players can return to the game in their defensive position, like as shortstop, after being removed to make room for a pinch runner. A starter can also come back into the game in fast-pitch softball as an offensive player if she does so in the same spot in the batting order as when she first started the game. She must therefore wait until the fourth batter’s turn if she entered the game as the fourth batter. The starting player might not continue in the game if she advances to second base once more and the manager pulls her out again for a pinch runner.
A bench player who quits the game so that a starter can enter again is not permitted to return for the remainder of the contest. However, there is a defensive swap that allows players to alter defensive positions with one another. If both players are starters, they are free to alter positions as much as they like without having an impact on their eligibility.
Runners on Courtesy
A pinch runner is distinct from a courtesy runner. When a pitcher or catcher reaches base, the coach may at any point replace them with a courtesy runner. The coach may substitute the courtesy runner back in for a pitcher or catcher as many times as required, and the pitcher or catcher may re-enter the game without incurring any penalties. The sole restriction is that a courtesy runner cannot serve as both a catcher and a pitcher at the same time.
It is not a substitution when a flex player enters the game as a designated batter for a pitcher. But if a designated batter is going to take a pitch for a pitcher, the club has to let the umpire know.