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Longer pitching distance should not hurt Tell City

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By Larry Goffinet

It had been rumored for several years that the distance between the pitching rubber and home plate in high school girls softball was going to be increased from 40 to 43 feet. And Wednesday the IHSAA approved the change for the 2010 season.

The new distance was one of the rules revisions announced by the National Federation of State High School Associations in June.

It is mandatory for all states beginning in 2011 but member state associations were free to adopt the new rule a year early if they wanted, so the IHSAA did.

The new distance will be the same as colleges use.

Tell City pitcher Josalyn Ress should have a leg up on many competitors in adjusting to the new distance, as last month she pitched from 43 feet for a U.S. team in the World Sports Festival.

She said afterward that she thought the longer distance gave more movement to her pitches without affecting her control.

Pitchers will probably need to throw more pitches with a lot of movement, such as risers and drop balls, to be effective, as hitters will have longer to time a straight fastball.

The days of pitchers starring in high school softball with just a fastball and changeup seemed to be dwindling before the rule change and now appear to definitely be gone.

ASA rule changes won’t be announced until late fall, but I hope that amateur softball governing body will also adopt the 43-foot pitching distance for ages 14-, 16- and 18-and-under to help them prepare for high school seasons.

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Speaking of summer league softball, the Tell City Girls Softball League plans several changes for next year.

One would be to take the 16-year-olds out of the 13-16 age division and add a 16-18 division.

This could benefit some high school players who currently don’t get to play fastpitch the summer before their senior year.

Those who don’t turn 18 until January of their senior year still get to play in the 13-16 league the summer before that, as the ASA age cutoff date is Jan. 1.

But all three of Tell City’s seniors this past spring were too old to play in the 13-16 league the previous summer.

That may have been a factor in some of them getting off to a slow hitting start this spring.

They did practice hitting about once a week throughout the winter in the city’s new indoor batting cages. That helps with timing, but is not the same as facing live pitching.

If not enough 16-18 players sign up for a separate league, then 16-year-olds will be put back in the 13-16 division, league officials said.