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High School Softball Pitching Distance to Increase to 43 Feet in 2010-11

The 2010-11 Softball season will be marked by new rule revisions, among these, one that will have the most impact on high school varsity softball will be the increase in pitching distance from 40 to 43 feet. Although the new pitching distance will be mandatory with the 2010-11 school year, state high school associations may adopt the 43 feet distance in 2009-10 if desired. After 10 years of debate and experimentation in two state associations, rule 1-1-2b was finally revised by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Softball Rules Committee and subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. The rule revision is said to create a better balance between offense and defense because more balls will be batted into play. “When more balls are batted into play, the defense is more involved in the game, thus enhancing skill development,” said Mary Struckhoff, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Softball Rules Committee. The rule is also said to create a smoother transition for high school players with hopes to play in college. This change eliminates one of the few major rule differences between high school and collegiate sports.

High School Softball Rule Revisions

There have been four high school softball rule revisions made for the upcoming season including the pitching distance increase from 40 to 43 feet. The second rule revision concerns bat specifications, which is primarily an editorial change from the existing rule in order to give manufacturers, coaches, players and umpires more guidance on what is and is not permissible. The third rule revision deals with hair devices worn by players. It provides an exception to the original rule that permits “hard, unadorned devices, such as bobby pins, barrettes and clips, no longer than 2 inches, to be worn to control a player’s hair.” Lastly the final rule revision concerns how a winning pitcher is determined and was changed in order to better reflect the culture of the sport. The altered rule changes the required number of innings pitched for a starting pitcher to be credited with a win to “half of the total number of innings played in the game.” The new language gives the starting pitcher the ability to earn a win even if she leaves the pitching position for another defensive position and returns to the pitching position later in the game.

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