States Mandate Face Masks in High School Softball | Athletic Business

States Mandate Face Masks in High School Softball

The Missouri State High School Activities Association has updated the softball manual for the 2017 season with a new mandate that all pitchers wear a protective mask during play.

The softball advisory committee also strongly encourages first and third basemen to begin wearing fielding masks, but it will not be mandatory this season.

Missouri is the first state to institute such a rule, with Kentucky close behind. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced on Tuesday that pitchers, first and third basemen will be required to wear face protection beginning in the 2018 season.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has no regulations regarding protective head gear, save the established requirement of a mask and helmet for catchers.

According to USA Today, the KHSAA submitted a proposal to the NFHS recommending a rules-change at the national level, but the change was not approved.

In a public statement, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett told the press, “While I was disappointed with the NFHS Rules Committee action in not approving the proposal, it was not altogether surprising.”

However, she said, “Our experience the last few years has left us with multiple anecdotal and documented reports of incidents within our state that leave us no option but to leave our national rules-making body behind in terms of waiting for change.”

Brent Hall, head softball coach for Houston (Mo.) High School supports the rule, saying, “I like it just for the safety aspect.”

“We don’t have strikeout pitchers so the ball is put in play, and sometimes it’s hit hard. You don’t have a lot of time to react, so I feel more comfortable with my pitcher out there with a mask on,” he told the Houston Herald.

According to Hall, very few of his players would wear a mask on the field by choice. “A lot of girls aren’t comfortable with it,” he said.

He also thinks the masks will take some getting used to. “You’re actually looking through bars, plus the weight of it on your head and you’ll be a little hotter,” said Hall.

Even so, Hall said he would be in favor of the other players donning masks as well. “If I played, I would wear one,” he said. “What a tool to help you keep your nose down. You don’t have to worry about getting hit in the face.”

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