July 30, 2001
The NCAA Softball Rules Committee has cited bat compliance as a primary point of emphasis in the upcoming year.
The committee, which conducted its annual meeting July 9-12 in Indianapolis, wants to ensure that bats being used in the collegiate game meet specifications.
"We want to verify that the equipment in our game is readily available to all teams and within the rules," said Sharon Drysdale, committee chair and former softball coach at Northwestern University. "We will have to work out the details to make the compliance program effective, but I think it is a necessary step to ensure fairness."
In 2000, the three division championships committees approved a Softball Rules Committee recommendation to endorse the Amateur Softball Association Bat Certification Program for collegiate softball. The policy will become effective in January 2002.
Under the new specifications, bats must have passed the certification program and bear the ASA seal or be on the list of approved bats to be used in the collegiate game. The rules committee will continue to work on the details of the program and submit recommendations to the championships committees.
"We also considered a bat-sharing rule that would force both teams to use a 'community bat rack' for competition," Drysdale said. "We are going to continue to consider bat-sharing while we pursue the bat-compliance concept."
Along with the change in the bat standard, the ball-compression standard adopted by the committee in 1999 will be in effect for the first time in 2002. The new standard requires that balls have a maximum compression of 350, plus or minus 50.
In another equipment issue, the committee had voted in 2000 to mandate that all catchers' helmets bear the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE)-testing embossed seal of approval by 2003. Since the NOCSAE testing for catchers' helmets includes impact testing from both the top and the side of the helmet, skull caps, which do not have sides, will not be NOCSAE approved and will not be allowed in 2003.
Also, pitchers will have less time between pitches during the upcoming season. The committee specified in Rule 10-18 that a pitcher must release the pitch within 10 seconds of receiving ball or else the umpire will indicate it is time to play ball. The rule used to allow for 20 seconds before release.
In other actions, the committee:
Softball rules changes
In addition to the rules changes discussed in the accompanying article, other major rules changes are listed below in the order in which the change will appear in the rules book. A complete list of major and editorial changes can be found by clicking here.