what is a designated hitter in softball

What Does DP Mean in Softball?

DP typically stands for Designated Player. You can think of it as similar to a Designated Hitter in Baseball, but here’s the difference; a designated hitter in baseball can make a hit in place of another player already in position, but a designated hitter cannot play defense.

DP in Defense

 In Fast Pitch Softball, a designated player (DP) can make hits for a player as well as temporarily play defense, and can later on in the game return to their original position. If you’re a designated player playing turn for a hitter or in the offense team, you’ll be known as the “pinch runner” or “pinch hitter”.

DP Flex Rule USSSA and DP Flex Rule Softball NCAA basically says that the only person that can play pinch runner, and this is the person in defense (known as the flex), that this pinch runner replaced. The designated player can’t replace anyone else when taken out, but take note that a designated player can be brought back into the lineup of the chosen flex person

Basic Softball Substitution Rules:

  • DP can play any position on defense
  • DP and Flex titles never terminated even when used
  • Team member numbers can go from 10 to 9 or 9 to 10 an unlimited number during the game
  • If DP replaces a defensive player that isn’t the FLEX, the defensive player will still get to bat
  • DP and Flex can play defense simultaneously
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    DP and Flex cannot play offense simultaneously, because the only position a Flex can replace in offense is the DP
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    DP, Flex, and substitutes are all to be in same the same spot in batting order

Using a DP and Flex

For a visual guide to help you understanding the use of a Designated Player and a Flex in your softball game, take a look at this video for deeper insight: 

It’s always handy to have a DP Flex Cheat Sheet to remind you of the rules for softball substitution, and what’s even more important is keeping track of your lineup by using a lineup card. You can write out a template yourself but alternatively, you can download one of these DP Flex Line Up Card Templates with different designs you can choose, print and then fill out for games, and if you’re interested in that cheat sheet since it’s a new rule and it might take some time to remember the conditions, you can take a look at printing this downloadable file to keep with you as a guide during softball games.

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