It’s about the time to start preparing for Softball in the year 2010, and there is no better place to start than to review the rule changes that are coming for next year. The rules that are changing primarily cover pitching and equipment. Generally, ASA seems to be attempting to bring Fast Pitch Softball more in line with College Softball, as well as aligning slow pitch and modified pitch more with Fast Pitch Softball.
Perhaps the biggest rule change for 2010 is moving the Fast Pitch pitching distance to 43 feet for 18U Rec and 16U Rec and Travel games. I think this is going to be great for the game, as 43 feet is the same pitching distance as College Softball and now High School softball (also moving their pitching distance back to 43 feet in 2010). A batter has about 4/100th of a second more reaction time with the additional 3 feet between home plate and the pitching plate, which doesn’t sound like much, but should give the batter a slightly better chance of hitting than before, making for a bit more balance between pitching and offense.
Other pitching rule changes include a Slow Pitch maximum arc of 10 feet instead of 12 feet, and the use of courtesy runners for Modified Pitch games (now using the same courtesy runner rules as Fast Pitch). As a Slow Pitch player, I’m definitely looking forward to getting into the batter’s box facing flatter pitches!
Most of the equipment rule changes involve new or more complete definitions regarding the bat or parts of the bat. There are now formal definitions of the knob, the handle, taper, the barrel, and the end cap. The altered bat is better specified, and the extra tape issue is eliminated. Also, flare and cone grips are now allowed, as well as bat warmers. Basically, I recommend referring to ASA’s banned bat list that should be out in the next week or so and verifying that your bat is still legal.
Metal cleats are now allowed for 18U and 16U Boys and Girls travel and rec players (another rule that is changed to make ASA more in line with High School and College Softball). The double base at first does not have to be orange in foul territory (giving Championship Tournaments more flexibility for color schemes). And finally, no electronic equipment, to include cell phones and pagers, are allowed on the field. This includes no video recording equipment in the dugout.
That concludes this summary of rule changes for 2010. As always, check out the rule book yourself and if you have any questions, contact your local ASA Umpire-in-Chief for clarifications before you step out onto the field.