In an effort to better protect high school pitchers, the Mississippi High School Activities Association recently passed legislation mandating pitch counts.
Pitchers were previously limited to 17 innings per week (Monday through Sunday). Now, the MHSAA has put tighter constraints on pitchers.
The scale is simple enough. If a pitcher throws 1-25 pitches in a game, there’s no mandated rest; 26-50, he’s required one day’s rest; 51-75, two days; 76-105, three days; and 106-120, four days. No pitcher is allowed to throw more than 120 pitches in a game.
“I think it’s great. This is something I’ve seen coming just because the topic of arm injuries in high school kids and younger has gotten hotter and hotter,” Ocean Springs coach Brian Rea said. “We know those limits, but it sure does help to have something in place to back us up.”
Rea, along with Gulfport’s Jamie McMahon and Biloxi’s Eddie Lofton, all agree the scale is important, even if it they don’t anticipate it impacting the regular season much.
Where the limits could be felt, however, is in the post-season.
“The playoffs, it’s like win at all costs for some,” Lofton said. “I think that’s when they’re really going to have to bear down and police it.”
South Mississippi’s coaches have the most questions about policing and documenting the pitch counts.
The new rule states coaches must be in agreement after games and then record pitch counts on MaxPreps.com within 24 hours.
The use of an ineligible pitcher will result in a forfeiture. Schools will also be fined $250.
Policing the pitch counts has actually drawn the most questions from South Mississippi’s coaches.
“Our biggest concern is how do you keep up with it? As a coach, you have to put a coach in charge of keeping up with the pitch count,” McMahon said. “What if there are discrepancies? That’s a bigger concern than necessarily the pitch count and number of days between appearances. I think it just scared coaches at first when hearing about the pitch count and limiting days.”
Lofton suggested teams possibly hire an additional game official to chart pitches in the press box. Or, he said, the home plate umpire should confer with each dugout between innings to compare totals.
“I think that’s the only way you’re going to be completely accurate,” he said.
And what about posting the pitch counts online?
“Some schools don’t have technology that’s up on that,” McMahon said. “With (the program) Gamechanger.com, everybody can upload stats (immediately after games). We’ll just upload the pitch count.
“My concern is that small schools in the Delta that don’t have internet service.”
The MHSAA said it will monitor the new rule and reevaluate it during the offseason.
New basketball rule
The MHSAA also passed a new basketball rule. Basketball warm-ups will be limited to the designated time immediately before the next scheduled game. Halftime warm-ups are restricted to the participants in the game.