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PIAA to enforce pitch counts in 2017

National rule will go into effect in spring sports season

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The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) passed new legislation that will restrict baseball pitchers by number of pitches they throw starting next season.

The new rule, announced Tuesday, was passed Friday by the NFHS board of directors after membership unanimously approved it during the annual baseball rules committee meeting in early June. The new mandate will go into effect across the country for the 2017 season, which includes in Pennsylvania.

States athletic associations will now be responsible for implementing the rule and setting up specific guidelines tailored to their individual associations.

The PIAA had an innings limit already in place, which set restrictions on how many innings a pitcher could throw in a single game and week. It also put in place a set number of days a player must rest before they can pitch again, depending on how much they throw.

However, the knock on innings limits has been that it is not as precise a limit as a pitch count is.

“How many times you pitch is really the damage on your arm. Not how many innings you pitch,” Dr. Glen Fleisig told in June.

Implementing pitch count restrictions in high school baseball has been a more pressing issue recently as doctors, researchers and coaches have seen a dramatic increase in arm injuries among high school pitchers.

The new rule doesn’t come as much of a surprise to NFHS membership, which sent surveys in late winter/early spring to test the waters for the idea and let them know pitch count could be coming in the near future.

“It’s time and the membership was open to it,” said Elliot Hopkins, the director of Sports, Sanctioning and Student Services for the NFHS. “We got positive feedback and the rules committee voted unanimously to move forward.”