TSSAA Adjusts Pitch Count, Adds Soccer Mercy Rule

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)


Only one season old, the TSSAA baseball pitch count rule will undergo revisions in 2018.

The TSSAA Board of Control voted on Wednesday to amend the rule, which went into effect during the 2017 season.

Beginning in 2018, the changes in the rule for varsity include:

The maximum number of pitches that can be thrown in a game is 120 regardless of the situation. Last season a pitcher could finish a batter after accumulating the maximum 120.

Pitchers cannot pitch more than two days in a row. They can, however, pitch in both games of a doubleheader, with the number of pitches in the second game being added to the first-game total to determine days rest/maximum pitch count.

The pitch count no longer will revert to the last batter faced in terms of determining days rest. The exact number of pitches thrown will be counted toward required days rest.

The chart on determining days rest has changed on the back end. If a pitcher throws 1-25 pitches, no rest days are required. From 26-55 one day rest, 56-75 two days, 76-105 three days and 106-120 four days.

"It was about safety of the players," said board member Pat Swallows, who is also executive director of the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association. The TBCA advocated for the change.

"Now there won't be any gray area or any controversy. If you're coaching in the bottom of the seventh and you have your stud out there with 115 pitches, you can only use him five more pitches."

The board tabled until the August meeting a discussion to better monitor pitch counts and for potential penalties involved with those who don't adhere to the rule.

Stewarts Creek's baseball team used numerous pitchers during its run to the Class AAA state championship game in May.

"Coaches will have to adjust like we did last year," Stewarts Creek coach Mike Bartlett said. "It will probably be easier to track (now)."

The board also voted to institute a mercy rule in girls and boys soccer. If a team takes a nine-goal lead by halftime or in the second half, the match will end.

Also, if a team goes up five goals on its opponent, a running clock will be instituted.

"It won't have a lot of impact," board member Mark Reeves said. "We don't anticipate a lot of that. A majority of coaches will start pulling their starters in situations like that, which would limit scoring before it even gets to 9-0. But if anyone sees purpose in beating someone 20-0, this is no longer possible."

The TSSAA state volleyball tournament, normally held on Wednesday through Friday, will be held on Tuesday through Thursday (Oct. 17-19) in 2017. The change was made because of a conflict at MTSU. The Blue Raiders football team will play at home against Marshall in an ESPN-televised game Friday, Oct. 20.

The girls state wrestling tournament will increase from 10 to 11 weight classes. The weight classes will be 103, 112, 119, 125, 132, 140, 150, 160, 170, 190 and 215 pounds.

Memphis area charter schools Bluff City High and Gateway University were granted TSSAA membership beginning in 2017-18. Both will participate in Division I.

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June 8, 2017


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