High School Sports

NCHSAA board approves pitch counts for high school baseball

Providence High pitcher Logan Davidson delivers a pitch to a Marvin Ridge batter during prep baseball action on Friday, March 4, 2016 at Marvin Ridge High School. Providence defeated Marvin Ridge 2-0.
Providence High pitcher Logan Davidson delivers a pitch to a Marvin Ridge batter during prep baseball action on Friday, March 4, 2016 at Marvin Ridge High School. Providence defeated Marvin Ridge 2-0. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The N.C. High School Athletic Association board of directors approved pitch counts for baseball, effective this coming spring. The National Federation of High Schools, which the NCHSAA is a part of, announced in June that it was requiring all of its associations to adopt rules regarding baseball pitch counts.

The NCHSAA’s sports advisory committee, Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and N.C. Baseball Coaches Association worked together to come up with the new rules, which are identical to the USA Baseball guidelines for 17-18 year olds. The NCHSAA rule will apply to all high school players regardless of age.

“USA Baseball had the money to be able to do the research ... then the sports medicine advisory committee looked at what (USA Baseball) had and they felt it is hard to argue against research and science,” NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker said.

The new rules are:

▪ The maximum pitches allowed per day is 105, but pitchers are allowed to finish facing the batter in which they reach that number.

▪ If a pitcher throws more than 76 pitches in a day, four days of rest are required before pitching again.

▪ If a pitcher throws 61-75, three days of rest are required.

▪ If a pitcher throws 46-60, two days of rest are required.

▪ If a pitcher throws 31-45, one day of rest is required.

▪ If a pitcher throws 1-30 pitches, no days of rest are required.

▪ The state championships – a best-of-three series that plays once on a Friday and twice, if necessary, on a Saturday – are exempt from the days of rest requirements. Pitchers are limited to 120 pitches for the series.

NCHSAA board president Rodney Shotwell, the superintendent of Rockingham County Schools and a former baseball coach, anticipated a bigger impact on junior varsity.

“I don’t think coaches mean to, but (JV players) could overpitch more than the varsity players just because you don’t have that pool of pitchers if the best talent is going up to varsity,” Shotwell said.

Tucker said the NCHSAA will work with the N.C. Baseball Coaches Association to shape the tracking and monitoring process. Scorebook keepers could confer to verify like basketball scorekeepers do with the official scorebooks. There’s also a way to report pitch counts on MaxPreps.com. More will be determined at the baseball coaches’ meeting on Friday in Greensboro.

Skill development: Football coaches will have options for skill development – the new way (unlimited players for 10 days in May) or the old way (21 players for an unlimited number of days, aside from dead periods). It was approved 12-4.

If a coach does not notify the NCHSAA by Jan. 3, it will default to the 10 days in May option.

Cross country: The number of teams advancing from regionals to the state championships will be based on the number of teams competing in a given regional. The top 25 percent will advance rather than just the top our. There should still be 16 teams total that advance to states.

“The cross country coaches felt like some of our better teams were not getting in because you were only taking ‘X’ number from each regional,” Tucker said. “I think it was trying to make sure we were getting equal representation from all the regions and allow more teams to get in that really should be getting in.”

Girls golf: Conference team champions will receive automatic bids to the regionals regardless of average score of the third team member. Currently, all regional participants were decided by the individual strokes-per-nine-holes. Though more often than not, the conference champion was safe, this aligns the rules for girls with those for the boys.

Ejections: Ejections this fall have increased 21.5 percent statewide to 400, including 140 for fighting and 84 for profanity, compared to 329 ejections last fall. There were no action items on ejections, but it was discussed and there will be more discussion at the spring board meeting.

“We’re still catching the effects of years of things that have built up,” assistant commissioner James Alverson said.

Hurricane Matthew: NCHSAA schools raised $21,715.21 on Oct. 21 as part of Hurricane Matthew Relief Assistance Night for those local education agencies affected the most by the flooding. The NCHSAA has matched $20,000 of that to almost double the amount.

Schools from around the state will also be raising money from basketball games on Dec. 16 and the NCHSAA will again match up to $20,000.

Basketball: For this year only, basketball playoff seeding will be done on a 20-game record due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew, down from 22.

Transfers: The transfer policy now includes a stipulation that players transferring to a member school where the student’s coach has relocated with a year will be ineligible for 365 days. It applies to all paid coaches, not just head coaches.

Tucker said most other state associations have rules in place for these situations, which she added aren’t rampant but have happened in the NCHSAA.

The transfer policy already covers coaches who are parents being able to move their children to another school without penalty.

Seeding: There was one tweak to the NCHSAA seeded playoffs: home games would be based on a 1-32 seed instead of their 1-16 (or 1-16 versus 1-8 for football) seed for their subregion.

Currently, one region could be stacked with more conference champions than the other and create an imbalance where a No. 4 seed in the Mideast, for example, could be a conference champ and have to travel to the No. 3 seed in the East despite that team not winning its conference. This change would assign numbers 1-32 to straighten out who hosts, but the subregions will still be used to help avoid first-round conference rematches.

Concussions: Coaches must take the annual NFHS “Concussion in Sports” course prior to their first date of practice – June 1 to July 31 for fall sports, Sept. 1-Oct 31 in winter, Jan. 1 to Feb 28 for spring.

J. Mike Blake: 919-460-2606, @JMBpreps