As safety has become a bigger priority at every level of sports, the state of Kentucky is considering taking things even further for its high school softball players. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) voted to recommend that softball players playing first base, third base and pitcher wear protective face gear during games.

The recommendation did not turn into an automatic requirement on Monday, but it served as a step in the right direction, centered around alleviating the gap between varying levels of competition. "When you have really, really good players against other really, really good players, you may not need a mask," KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said. "It's when you see the disparities between teams that have strong pitchers and hitters and you have kids crashing in from first or third and lunging in to pitch." 

KHSAA also reached out to the National Federation of State High School Associations, but received a similar deferment. The introduction of this new safety equipment has the players' well-being at the forefront, but that doesn't mean it needs to be for everyone; some simply feel enough security without any aid on the field, or may feel embarrassed by the extra gear. 

"For those kids who want to use it and it provides a measure of security, more power to them," softball coach Josh Bloomer said. "I have a player who wears a mask now, and I have no problem with it. But for some kids who don't want to wear it and it might make them uncomfortable, I don't feel it needs to be a requirement."