The Kansas State High School Activities Association unveiled its new pitching restriction policy on Thursday, limiting pitchers to 105 pitches in a day beginning next spring.
The move, which replaces innings thrown as the barometer, was required after the National Federation of High School Associations revised its policy last summer. Jeremy Holaday, KSHSAA assistant executive in charge of baseball, said Kansas was preparing for a shift.
After collecting a year’s worth of data and studying data from other national studies, Holaday finalized a tiered pitch count system that will require more days off with more pitches thrown. Next spring, the maximum pitches in a one day is 105 — the pitcher may conclude facing the batter once he reaches 105 — and more than 76 will require four days of rest.
Anything between 61 and 75 pitches requires three days rest; 46-60 requires two days rest; 31-46 requires one day of rest; and anything less than 30 requires no rest.
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“Honestly, it would have been easy to just make it 130 and say they need to have a few days rest and not worry about the tiered structure,” Holaday said. “But that would not have been the right thing to do. We understand there will be some growing pains with it, but I hope coaches look at this as an improvement and a way to build their program — not something that is going to hinder them.”
Pitch counts were in the spotlight last May, when three Class 6A teams violated the innings limit in the same regional.
West’s Colby Pechin threw 157 pitches and 10 innings in a 16-inning win over Garden City to send West to the state tournament. Northwest’s Aaron Rhodes and Garden City’s Colton Snodgrass and Syrus Schwartz also threw 10 innings during the regional.
“Knowing what we know about the overuse of adolescent arms in baseball, pitch count is the best way to prevent injuries,” Holaday said. “This is just the next step for baseball and it is my personal belief that in four or five years, kids will show up in programs and ask coaches, ‘What’s the pitch count?’ because that is just baseball now.”
Pitch counts for both teams will be tracked by the official scorer and submitted to the KSHSAA after each game.
Violations of the maximum pitch count or the required days of rest will result in a suspension of the violating pitcher and coach, though the KSHSAA does not specify on the length of the penalty. The game in which the violation occurs will also result in a forfeit.
“We want to handle that on a case-by-case basis,” Holaday said. “We want to know the specifics of it and not just have a standard rule that says it’s a five-game suspension or a 1-game suspension or a half-game suspension. We want to know the specifics. And if it’s a reoccurring thing, then we’ll obviously have to handle that as well.”