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Tuesday, July 12, 2016: NFHS to require pitch-count rules by state organizations

   Leading off today: Every high school baseball coach and administrator has something new to chew on with Tuesday's announcement by the National Federation of State High School Associations that its rules will now require a pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown in a game.

   Each NFHS member state association will be required to develop its own policy based on the number of pitches thrown -- as opposed to innings worked -- to assure pitchers of specific rest period between appearances.

   Major League Baseball quickly praised the National Federation announcement.

   "We are pleased to see the NFHS taking this significant step towards curtailing pitcher use and fatigue," Chris Marinak, senior VP of league economics and strategy at MLB, said in a news release. "The health of high school pitchers is critical to the future prosperity of our sport. We will continue to work alongside USA Baseball as we further proliferate this important initiative."

   Robert Zayas, executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, said Tuesday that the NYSPHSAA Safety Committee had already asked its baseball committee to examine the topic of pitch counts before the NFHS vote.

   He said the baseball and safety committees will begin drafting a policy in accordance with the new NFHS rule. A preliminary timeline would have the matter taken up by the Executive Committee in October and voted upon by that body in January 2017.

   Pitch counts are not new within the state. New York City's PSAL adopted rules before the 2011 season that limit varsity players to 105 pitches per game. A player throwing up to 25 pitches may go to the mound on consecutive days, but mandatory rest periods of one to four days kick in for outings of 26 to 90 pitches.

   The existing NYSPHSAA rule limits pitchers to 12 innings in one day and 18 innings over any six-day span. A pitcher throwing eight or more innings in a day cannot return to the mound without two days of rest.

   Inning limits, however, have fallen out of favor with most medical authorities because the duration of an inning can be anywhere from thee pitches to 30 or more.

   Baseball America reported a 2015 study by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine found that 56.7 percent of Tommy John surgeries frpm 2007-11 were performed on 15- to 19-year-olds.

   The revision to Rule 6-2-6 was one of six changes approved by the NFHS baseball rules committee at its meeting last month in Indianapolis. The changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS board of directors.

   "We're pleased that the rules committee worked in conjunction with the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to find an acceptable and reasonable modification to this rule in order to emphasis the risk that occurs when pitchers overuse their throwing arm," said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball, said in a statement announcing the change.

   The NFHS baseball committee also revised Rule 2-32-2 regarding sliding into home plate. The revised language states: "At home plate, it is permissible for the slider's momentum to carry him through the plate in the baseline extended."

   The change is an acknowledgement that the physical design of home plate makes it difficult for a runner to break momentum on a slide similar to the elevated bases.

   Speaking of pitchers: Recent Shenendehowa graduate Ian Anderson is expected to make his professional debut Wednesday with a short outing. The Atlanta Braves' first-round pick, taken No. 3 overall last month, is the youngest of 24 pitchers currently assigned to the Braves' Gulf Coast League affiliate. football site

   Various sources project him throwing between 35 and 45 pitches in his debut.

   By the way, Anderson's twin brother Ben, declined to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays and will enroll at Binghamton University in the fall. Ben Anderson was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 26th round.

   Three share award: Byram Hills, Columbia and Cooperstown have been named as the 2015-2016 winners of the NYSPHSAA Sportsmanship Promotion program.

   The award, sponsored by the Pupil Benefits Plan, Inc., is presented to schools that create innovative sportsmanship programs in their schools and communities. Columbia is being recognized for the fourth consecutive year.

   The winning schools will be recognized during the NYSPHSAA's Central Committee Meeting later this month.

   According to the NYSPHSAA, Columbia's initiatives included over 400 athletes and coaches participating in the annual Teal Ribbon 5k Race, the Adopt-A-Family project and the Unified Sports Program.

   First-year Byram Hills AD Robert Castagna, a veteran administrator, launched the Peer Leader Program as the school's program to promote sportsmanship within the athletic department. Students leaders are trained in conflict resolution and promoting respect for others.

   At Cooperstown, the Leadership Training for Athletes program reviews issues related to sportsmanship and creates a plan to resolve conflicts. The LTA also coordinates service work and fundraising to support organizations around Central New York.

   "We are proud to have schools like Columbia, Byram Hills, and Cooperstown set an example and standard for how sportsmanship should be emphasized in communities," Kristen Jadin, special programs coordinator for the NYSPHSAA said in the awards announcement. "We thank them for their efforts, proactive approach and successful implementation of sportsmanship programs in their schools and communities."

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