The National Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors approved new rules and regulations.

by: JEFF GOODMAN - A Wilsonville player swinging at a low pitch during a game between Wilsonville and North Marion last season.

Oregon high school baseball and softball players and coaches must adjust to new rules agreed upon by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Beginning in 2015, baseball coaches will have the ability to use video monitoring and replay equipment during games, ending the prohibition of video equipment use for coaching purposes.

“With advancements in technology, it was extremely difficult for officials to determine if teams were using video replay during games,” Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and educational services and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee, was quoted in a press release sent by the NFHS.

North Marion coach Randy Brack believes the new rule is inconsequential and that video technology can sometimes hinder players’ performance.

“A lot of times we can overanalyze. We can watch ourselves way too much. We can video, video and video and it ends up being more of a detriment than an asset. Instead of reacting and hitting, we are thinking too much. Sometimes it is better to see less than to see more,” Brack said.

Rule 2-21, which establishes interference rules, was revised to include follow through interference and backswing interference. The press release states that, “follow-through interference is when the ball hits the catcher after the batter has swung at a pitch and hinders action at home plate or the catcher’s attempt to play on a runner.” “Backswing interference is when a batter contacts the catcher or his equipment prior to the time of the pitch.”

NFHS expanded rule 2-16-1, which defines a foul ball. Now a ball that the batter’s bat makes contact with and proceeds to hit the batter is considered a foul ball. Also, a ball that hits home plate and subsequently hits the batter or the batter’s bat is now a foul ball.

The previous foul ball rule was contradictory to other rules in the NFHS rule book.

The courtesy runner rule was tweaked as well. It will now state: “In the event that the offensive team bats around, the pitcher and/or catcher who had a courtesy runner inserted on their behalf may bat in their normal position in the batting order.”

These implementations were originally recommended by the NFHS baseball rules committee during meetings June 8-10 and were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

With regard to softball, new helmet regulations for catchers and batters were approved. The NFHS altered rules 1-6-1 and 1-7-1 to establish that batters and catchers helmets must have a “non-glare surface (not mirror like),” because they say helmets with mirror-like surfaces can be distracting and put other players in danger.

Photo by Jeff Goodman

A Wilsonville player swinging at a low pitch last season.

Canby softball coach Mike Higgins agrees with the rule change. “I think it is probably a positive thing. There is a pretty good body of people that make those decisions,” he said.

He added that though he doesn’t see many players wear mirror-like helmets, he thinks they provide no positive benefit outside of gamesmanship.

“ASA (Amateur Softball Association) ball is where you think you would see it more because there is more sun in the summer but you don’t see it very often.” He added:

“I don’t think there is a safety or a medical problem that would justify wearing those types of helmets.”

These rules changes were recommended by the softball rules committee, which met June 16-18, and were approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

In baseball, the rule requiring non-glare helmet use previously only pertained to players in the field, but will now apply to batters as well.

According to the NFHS participation survey, baseball is the third most popular high school sport for boys. The survey also found that softball is the fourth most popular sport for high school girls. The survey is based on the 2012-2013 school year.

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