Sports

Read (the rules) between the lines

The high school basketball season is winding down with the 2A and 3A boys and girls tournaments beginning today in Yakima and Tacoma, and the spring sports season is upon us as the baseballers, softballers, tennis players, track and field athletes, golfers, lacrosse stick wielders and soccer boys are ready for action after two weeks of practice.

The Sequim baseball team opens Saturday at home with the annual jamboree that features visiting teams Federal Way and Chief Sealth battling Sequim's varsity and junior varsity team in three-inning contests.

The high school rules makers didn't mess much with the baseball and softball books this year, but there are little differences in the high school game versus the Babe Ruth or Major League games, so today, as a public service, a look at the new rules and revisions for high school baseball and softball.



Big diamond

The rules makers modified criteria for painting lines, clarified the status of a hit batter and modified the color choice for umpire attire.

As far as lines go, all nonpermanent lines should be white. Won't affect Sequim or Port Angeles fields as they will be marked with white lines, but, on fields with an artificial surface that has blue or yellow lines sewn in, that will be OK.

Rule 7, section 3 deals with batting infractions. A batter shall not permit a pitched ball to touch him. If a pitch is way inside to a right-handed batter, for instance, and he bails out of the way but still is hit by the pitch, a base will be awarded.

If the batter just stands there, not making a move to get out of the way, and the ball hits him, he shall remain at bat (pitch is a ball or strike) unless the pitch was a third strike or ball four.

Reason for the rule? Too many batters were crowding the plate, leaning in, as it were, to get hit and get a base. Now, umpires will be watching closely for this infraction.

Umpires have been forced to wear heather gray slacks when working high school ball. Since gray fades and there are different shades of so-called heather, umpires now are only required to wear gray slacks.



Small diamond

Only one major change in fastpitch rules for girls this spring, but it might cause some concern for batters and coaches.

For years, batters have been taught to square around on a bunt attempt and hold the bat out in the strike zone. If the batter didn't offer at the pitch or held the bat still, the pitch was either a ball or strike, depending on location.

Under the new rule, the bat must be withdrawn in order to take the pitch, otherwise a strike will be called.

There is always emphasis on the pitching rule for girls and this year is no exception. Umpires are asked to watch closely for illegal pitches.

Pure and simple, high school pitchers have to have their pivot foot on top of the pitching rubber. They can put both feet on the rubber if they want to or they can have the nonpivot foot behind the rubber. The nonpivot foot must be within the 24-inches of the rubber, however.

A pitcher can push away from the rubber and drag the pivot foot, but the pivot foot and the nonpivot foot cannot be in the air at the same time. That's an illegal pitch.

Umpires also will be watching for the dreaded crow hop. That's when the pitch replants the pivot foot in front of the rubber before delivering the pitch.

There will be emphasis on the 20-second rule. Pitchers must deliver the ball within 20 seconds after they receive the ball in the circle or a ball will be called.

Oh, yes, don't be surprised if you see a player wearing some sort of skirt while playing. Rules have been altered to allow players to wear something other than the standard uniform due to religious beliefs.

Those are the rule changes in brief. If you have questions, send me an e-mail and I'll see you on the fields as I begin my 53rd year of calling balls and strikes, safes and outs and fair and foul on the big and small diamonds around the Olympic Peninsula.

Columns by KONP 1450 AM sports announcer Scooter Chapman appear weekly in the Sequim Gazette. He can be reached via e-mail at scooter@olypen.com.

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