The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Todd Stanford

April 28, 2011

Todd Stanford's column on high school softball: Rule change impacts offense

We're a few weeks into the season, so it's not too early to see what a difference the new pitching distance has made to the high school game. For those of you just joining us, the pitching rubber was moved back from 40 feet to 43 feet beginning this season with the hopes of sparking some offense into the game.

Well, it certainly seems like there's been more offense. In the four games I've covered this year (there would have been more, obviously, if Mother Nature hadn't had her say), I've seen a total of 27 runs cross the plate. That's an average of almost seven per game.

"Like I said (at the beginning of the year), moving that mound back is going to help the hitters," Wildcats coach Steve Ross said after his team lost a close 7-5 decision to Central Columbia on Tuesday. "You're not going to see too many of the 1-0, 14-inning games."

Although the general consensus is that the new distance makes it tough for pitchers, Central coach Duane Ford says that hurlers with some movement on their pitches are faring better than flamethrowers.

"I think the pitchers that have movement are actually benefiting by it," he said. "The pitchers who are straight fastball pitchers, I think they're at a bit of a disadvantage. Pitchers who throw on a trajectory, those extra three feet, the pitch is getting that much higher."

Hopefully, by the end of the year we'll see some hard numbers on the difference — if any — the new distance has had on the game. I'm guessing we'll see a noticeable uptick in runs scored. Until then, enjoy the offensive barrage.

FOR A GOOD CAUSE: This season, Central Columbia's softball program is partnering with the National Foundation for Cancer Research for a program called "Beat Cancer with a Bat."

As part of the program, the Blue Jays will donate proceeds from their home games to the NFCR to help fund cancer research.

"Cancer has intimately affected our team family in recent years," Ford said in a statement. "We welcome this opportunity to provide information and support to fight this dreaded disease."

Central doesn't charge admission for softball games, but the money from the 50/50 that would normally go to the home team will be donated to the NFCR.

PLAY BALL!: Are the start times assigned for each game supposed to be open for interpretation? It sure seems that way. I was at a Warrior Run game on April 15 and they started at 4:15. It was supposed to be a 4:30 start.

At the Central/Mifflinburg game Tuesday, the first pitch hit the catcher's mitt at 4:21. Again, this was supposed to be a 4:30 start.

Now, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me. Heck, I typically sleep until 11, watch a few hours of "I Dream of Jeannie" reruns, and then head out to earn a living. But I would think the parents and other fans would be miffed about leaving work early and then missing some of the game.

— Sports reporter Todd Stanford covers high school softball for The Daily Item. E-mail comments to tstanford@dailyitem.com.

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