Batters in high school softball no longer have to make an attempt to avoid being hit by a pitch in order to be awarded first base.
This revision was one of four rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations softball rules committee at a June meeting in Indianapolis.
A batter will be awarded first base if "a pitched ball is entirely within the batter's box and it strikes the batter or her clothing. No attempt to avoid being hit by the pitch is required. However, the batter may not obviously try to get hit by the pitch."
Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials education and staff liaison for softball, said this rules change clears up the gray area of whether the batter made an attempt to get out of the way of the pitch.
Other softball rules changes included:
-- Exceptions to the penalty for an illegal pitch: 1. If the batter reaches first base safely and each other runner advances at least one base, the illegal pitch is nullified. All action stands and the illegal pitch is canceled. 2. If the batter does not reach first base safely or if any base runner fails to advance at least one base, the coach of the team at bat shall have the option of the result of the play or the penalty of the illegal pitch. 3. If the batter is hit by an illegal pitch out of the strike zone, the batter is awarded first base and each base runner is awarded one base. 4. If ball four is an illegal pitch, the batter is awarded first base and each base runner is awarded one base.
-- As a follow-up to the change last year that required the color of all softballs to be optic yellow, the committee also ruled that gloves/mitts must not be entirely optic yellow or have that color of marking on the inside or outside of gloves/mitts that would give the appearance of the ball.
-- Stopwatches were approved for use in the coach's box.
The rules changes announced for track and field include the following:
-- The baton shall be handed from the incoming runner to the outgoing runner within the exchange zone. In addition, a new note will state that “the incoming and outgoing runners shall not simultaneously touch the baton outside of the 20-meter exchange zone.”
-- A competitor wearing an illegal uniform will first be issued a warning and will be required to make the uniform legal prior to further competition. A subsequent violation during the competition would result in disqualification from the event. Previously, the competitor was automatically disqualified for an illegal uniform.
-- Among the changes in rules for field events, the most significant is a revision in the pole vault. The standards or uprights shall be set to position the crossbar from 18 inches beyond the vertical plane of the top of the stopboard, instead of the previous distance of 15.5 inches. The maximum distance remains 31.5 inches.
-- Two additional changes approved by the rules committee focus on reducing the risk of injury. Two rules were revised to state that only legal implements used in throwing events will be allowed in warm-ups. Also, a new article will recommend, when feasible, an obstacle-free zone on the inside and outside of the track at least 1 meter in width.
-- Four other changes in throwing events were approved by the committee: 1. Three preliminary trials will be taken in flights of no less than five in the order in which the competitors are listed for competition. 2. With no action from the games committee, one more competitor than places scored will advance to the finals. 3. A range of ¼-inch will be allowed in the rim thickness of the discus (.472 inches to .512 inches). 4. It is a foul if the competitor uses the "cartwheel" technique in the shot put.
-- In the high jump: "In addition to the commonly used four-sided flat crossbar ends, the use of a crossbar fitted with alternative ends (semicircular) is permitted."