The other day I was writing an article on different youth baseball programs and I quickly came to realize that there is not much information on the web about what different types of youth baseball programs are out there. So I decided to do a little bit of research and put together this quick guide to help other people understand the same question I had – what is 13U baseball?
13U baseball is a youth baseball league where players who are 13 years old and younger can participate. The overall rules for 13U baseball are governed by the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), which has multiple 13U baseball leagues and tournaments across the United States.
Even though the USSSA sets the overall rules for 13U baseball, each 13U league could have its own set of special rules if they choose. There are also two types of 13U baseball – “54/80 13U” and “60/90 13U”.
Age and Eligibility Rules for 13U Baseball
One of the first things that parents want to know is how old their kid has to be to play in a 13U baseball league. What age is 13U baseball?
13U baseball can be played by any player under the age of 13, regardless of what grade they are in. If a player turns 14 before May 1st of the current year, they are only eligible if they are in 7th grade. Any player who turns 14 prior to August 1st of the current year is ineligible for 13U baseball.
According to the USSSA, it’s possible for a 14-year-old to play in a 13U baseball league, but that player must turn 14 before May 1st and they must be in 7th grade. If the player does not meet these criteria, they will be eligible for 14U baseball.
The next question parents may wonder is if a 12-year-old can play 13U baseball.
In general, a 12-year-old is eligible to play in a 13U baseball league. Although each 13U baseball league can be set up slightly differently so it’s best to check with that league’s baseball director or check that league’s rules around a player’s eligibility.
When it comes to these baseball leagues, the “U” in “13U” stands for “under”. So a 13U baseball league typically means that any player who is 13 years of age and younger is eligible to play.
Base Distances and Pitching Distances for 13U Baseball
As kids get older, the distances for the bases and pitcher’s mound start to increase. 13U baseball is a little different because there are two types of divisions and each of these divisions is broken down by base distance and pitching distance.
Base Path Distance for 13U Baseball
Let’s start off by discussing base distance. How far are the bases for 13U baseball?
In 13U baseball, the bases are 80 feet apart for the 13U 50/80 division and 90 feet apart for the 13U 60/90 division. Part of the reason these divisions get their name has to do with how far apart the bases are from one another.
Pitching Distance for 13U Baseball
After we know the distance from one base to another, the next question people wonder is what distance does 13U pitch from?
In 13U baseball, the pitching distance is 50 feet for the 13U 50/80 division and 60 feet for the 13U 60/90 division. Part of the reason these divisions get their name has to do with how far pitchers are throwing from the mound to home plate.
13U 50/80 Division vs 13U 60/90 Divison
At first glance, these numbers may seem random. But if we dive deeper into what each of these numbers mean, it starts to make more sense. What’s the difference between 50/80 and 60/90 for 13U baseball?
In 13U baseball, 50/80 means the pitching distance is 50 feet and the base path distance is 80 feet while 60/90 means the pitching distance is 60 feet and the base path distance is 90 feet.
So depending on a player or a parent’s decision, a 13U baseball player has the option to play on a diamond where the distances are further or shorter.
13U Baseball Field Dimensions
Just like with the distances of the base paths and pitching mound, the dimensions of a baseball field also expand as a player gets older. How big are 13U baseball fields?
In 13U 54/80 baseball, both right and left field are 275 feet from home plate while center field is 300 feet from home plate. In 13U 60/90 baseball, both right and left field are 320 feet from home plate while center field is 375 feet from home plate.
While not all baseball fields are made the same, the numbers listed above are the recommended dimensions of each baseball field according to USSSA.
For the other dimensions of the 13U baseball diamond, like the height and slope of the mound, how big the batter’s box and catcher’s box can be, and how big each of the bases should be, USSSA recommends following the official rules of baseball according to the MLB.
13U Baseball Games Are 7 Innings or 1 Hour and 45 Minutes
Following a similar pattern to how the field dimensions get bigger and the base paths get longer as player’s age, the length of the game also tends to increase. How many innings are in a 13U baseball game? And how long are 13U baseball games?
As a general rule, 13U baseball games last 7 innings or 1 hour and 45 minutes, whichever comes first. A 13U baseball game has the potential to extend beyond 1 hour and 45 minutes, but a new inning cannot begin after 1 hour and 45 minutes have been played.
Keep in mind that this time limit is a generality and some leagues or tournaments can vary this time. For example, the World Baseball Academy has 13U games lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes, Disney Youth Baseball has 13U games lasting 2 hours, and USA Sports NC has 13U games lasting 1 hour and 40 minutes.
It’s usually a good idea to check your league’s rules around time limits for 13U baseball games, but most 13U games will last around 1 hour and 45 minutes.
13U Baseball Games Can End Early Due to Weather or Mercy Rule
If the weather picks up and the umpire determines play cannot continue, a game could end early if the game is far enough along.
For a game to be completed due to weather, 4 innings must have been played. If the home team was winning after three and a half innings and the game is called due to weather, the home team will be declared the winner. This works similarly to how a home team does not have to bat in the bottom of the last inning if they are winning.
A game also has the possibility of ending early due to the mercy rule. What is the mercy rule in 13U baseball?
In 13U baseball, the mercy rule is enforced when one team is winning by 15 runs after 3 innings, 12 runs after 4 innings, or 8 runs after 5 innings. If the home team scores the required number of runs in the bottom of one of these innings, the home team will stop batting and the game will end.
Rest Day Rules for 13U Pitchers
Pitching is an important aspect in any baseball league, but USSSA places more emphasis on protecting the arms of young pitchers by implementing rules around how often they can pitch. What are the 13U pitch count rules?
In 13U baseball, pitchers are allowed to pitch the next day if they throw 3 or fewer innings in one day. If they throw more than 3 innings, they must rest for a minimum of one day. In addition, 13U pitchers can throw a maximum of 8 innings in a three-day window.
With these rules, it’s possible for a 13u pitcher to throw three days in a row by throwing 3 innings on the first day, 3 innings on the second day, and 2 innings on the third day. After this pitcher has thrown 8 innings in a three-day window, they need a minimum of one day of rest before they can pitch again.
13U Bat Rules
Every level of baseball has different rules around which bats are legal and the USSSA has implemented its own rules around legal bats for 13U players. What bat is legal for 13U baseball?
In 13U baseball, players are allowed to use an aluminum bat with a maximum drop of -8 that also has the official USSSA logo stamp.
If a batter is caught using an illegal bat, the first offense is the player will be called out and possibly ejected from the game. If a team is caught using an illegal bat a second time, the manager will be ejected from the game.
And if an umpire catches an illegal bat after a ball has been put into play, the defensive team has the option to keep the result of the play or have the batter called out and have the baserunners return to where they were prior to the illegal bat being used.
Looking for more info on illegal baseball bats? Read my other article on what makes a baseball bat illegal.
13U Baseball Tournaments
One of the exciting things about 13U baseball is that there are a lot of different tournaments all over the United States and they happen at all times of the year. But how do you find 13U baseball tournaments near you?
If you’re looking for a 13U baseball tournament, the best place to check is USSSA’s website. USSSA has an event section on their website where you can search all the available events located in your state.
If the event is not full, managers are able to log into their manager’s account and register their team for that tournament. Go to the event section on USSSA’s website to view a list of events and tournaments.
13U Baseball is Different Than Little League
Another thing to keep in mind is that 13U baseball is different than Little League.
In Little League, players who are 13 years old can play in either the “Intermediate (50/70)” division (ages 11-13), the “Junior League” (ages 12-14), or the “Senior League” (ages 13-16). If a 13-year-old player wants to play on a 13U baseball team, they’ll need to go through a team that is associated with the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA).