The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) made a number of rule changes focusing on improving player safety by upgrading equipment by the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
The NFHS Board of Directors agreed that balls used in high school baseball competition shall meet the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) at the time of manufacture, one of four changes made by the board at its June meeting in Indianapolis.
"We are excited that our membership will now have equipment that meets a standard that is consistent across the country," said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball. "We are comfortable knowing that all baseballs for high school play will be the same size, same weight and have similar playability."
The rule change will require uniformity among baseballs used in high school athletics by Jan. 1, 2019.
Similarly, the committee made a similar change to protective chest equipment worn by catchers, which must also meet NOCSAE standards by Jan. 1, 2020.
The NOCSAE standard has been developed to protect the heart from commotion cordis, a lethal disruption of heart rhythm that occurs as a result of a blow to the area directly over the heart.
This standard continues to be the committee's focus on minimizing risk of injury for players.
"Being aware that a standard exists to protect players, this decision was easy to make," Hopkins said. "When our catchers wear this chest protector, we are confident that the best protection for their heart is constructed into this equipment."
The committee also modified rules regarding components of a bat, changing language to state that bats "not have exposed rivets, pins, rough or sharp edges or any form of exterior fastener or attachment(s) that would present a potential hazard."
A final rule modification was made to remove language that prevented a player who is awarded first base on balls the ability to over-run the base and return safely.
For a complete list of the baseball rules changes, go to the NFHS baseball website at www.nfhs.org/activities-sports/baseball.