In slow pitch senior softball, a ball is hit and lands fair between 1st & 3rd, then bounces left in the air foul. However the ball is caught before it hits the ground.
Is it fair or foul?
As defined in the ASA Code (aka, the Amateur Softball Association of America), there are many divisions of senior slow pitch softball, ranging from 50-over to 75-over. I will be using said rules to answer your question.
The ASA playing rules define a "fair ball" as the following (starting on page 49, in part):
A batted ball shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not as to whether the fielder is on fair or foul territory at the time the fielder touches the ball. It does not matter whether the ball first touches fair or foul territory, as long as it does not touch anything foreign to the natural ground in foul territory and complies with all other aspects of a fair ball.
A fair ball is a legally batted ball that:
- Settles or is touched on or over fair territory between home and first base or between home and third base.
- Bounds over or past first or third base, which is in fair territory, regardless of where the ball hits after going over the base.
- While on or over fair territory, touches the person or clothing of a player or an umpire.
- First falls or is first touched on or over fair territory beyond first, second or third base.
The ball is hit and lands fair between 1st. & 3rd. then bounces left in the air foul. However the ball is caught before it hits the ground.
Is it fair or foul?
Does the ball bounce beyond first or third base with respect to home plate? If so, this is a fair ball.
Otherwise, this is a foul ball.
The answer depends on where that ball landed fair between 1st and 3rd.
Once the ball lands and bounces foul (like the question states).. does the ball bounce foul before the ball passes 3rd or 1st base or does the ball bounce foul after it passes 3rd or 1st base? The part of the question However the ball is caught before it hits the ground is irrelevant and will not make a difference in the outcome of the call.
If the ball bounces foul before it is able to pass either 1st or 3rd base, it doesn't matter if the ball is caught before it hits the ground.. it will be deemed a foul ball..
If the ball bounces foul after it passes either 1st or 3rd base, again it doesn't matter if the ball is caught before it hits the ground.. it will be deemed a fair ball.
It is important to remember that there is no difference between a popup and a ground ball.
If a pop-up between home and third (or home and first) lands fair and then gets caught on the bounce in foul ground, it is a FAIR ball. Period. Again, there is no difference between a pop-up and a ground ball. For a ground ball that establishes fair and then goes foul, the ball is not ruled "foul" unless/until the ball either stops moving—on its own—when it is still in foul territory OR a fielder touches it in foul territory. A ground ball that starts fair, goes foul, and then re-enters fair territory is a FAIR ball (which is why a fielder must quickly touch the ball in foul ground to make sure that it does not come back fair), so we can't make assumptions about where the ball "would have landed" if a fielder hadn't caught the pop-up on-the-bounce in foul territory without the ball ever having made physical contact with foul ground. This prevents "guessing games" when the bounce hovers very close to the foul line.