The Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Central Board of Control unanimously approved changing the current pitching rule for baseball from innings pitched to a pitch count, beginning with the 2017 AHSAA baseball season. Alabama joins Vermont and Colorado as states with a pitch-count limitation policy.
Lee Gann, head baseball coach at Mountain Brook High School and the chairman of the AHSAA Baseball Coaches Committee, asked the Board to adopt the change. The Baseball Coaches Committee was unanimous in its recommendation, Gann said. Alabama becomes the first state association in the NFHS’s Section 3 to adopt the pitch count as a way to regulate arm safety and becomes one of the first in the nation.
The current AHSAA Pitching Rule, adopted in 1989, states that pitchers can pitch up to 14 innings in one week but must rest three calendar days once pitching seven innings in one day or makes two appearances over consecutive days.
The Pitch Count Rule adopted will require a varsity pitcher to rest three calendar days after throwing 76 to 120 pitches in one day. The maximum pitches allowed for a junior-varsity pitcher will be 100 and for junior high or middle school 85.
“After spending time with the (AHSAA) Medical Advisory Committee last February, we understand just how important limiting pitches thrown is to the health safety of a player’s arm,” Gann said. “No two innings are the same.”
AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese lauded the Central Board’s decision as well as the leadership of Gann and the Baseball Coaches Committee.
“Our Medical Advisory Board made it clear that limiting the number of pitches thrown is much more important than innings pitched,” Savarese said. “We think this rule change is a landmark decision by the Central Board. Health and safety is a chief concern in all our sports, and this is a positive move toward making baseball safer for our student-athletes.”
Complete details of the Pitch Count Rule will be posted at www.ahsaa.com in the coming days.
The Central Board also adopted the Baseball Coaches Committee recommendation to change from the current 18 playing dates during the regular season to 28 total games for Classes 1A through 6A and 32 games in Class 7A. In addition, games played during a school’s defined “Spring Break” will not count toward total number of games allowed. The change will begin in the 2016-17 school year for the 2017 season.