NFHS Institutes Pitch Counts, Affects Announcers

NFHS Institutes Pitch Counts, Affects Announcers

The National Federation of High Schools has made a change to baseball rules effective this upcoming season that will affect P. A. announcers across the country.  Unlike the rules instituted on basketball a couple of years ago, these changes were made in the spirit of well-being of the athletes and we highly endorse these changes.

The National Federation of High Schools has made a change to baseball rules effective this upcoming season that will affect P. A. announcers across the country.  Unlike the rules instituted on basketball a couple of years ago, these changes were made in the spirit of well-being of the athletes and we highly endorse these changes.

NFHS:  Pitching Restrictions Policies in Baseball to be Based on Pitches

Little League Baseball has had pitch limits for years now and it’s aimed to prevent pitchers from throwing too many pitches and suffering injuries that could affect their well-being after their baseball life has completed.  However, pitchers at higher levels have not necessarily had those pitch limits, until now.

“Each NFHS member state association will be required to develop its own pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown during a game to afford pitchers a required rest period between pitching appearances,” according to the NFHS.

Tally Counter Store:  4 Easy Ways to Keep a Little League Pitch Count

This means that each state will be deciding the pitch limits and how much time each pitcher will need to take off between outings.  This also means teams will have to have more than one or two players who can pitch and will open up the game more on the offensive side.

Virginia High School League:  VHSL Baseball Pitch Count Timeline (PDF)

Where this affects P. A. announcers will be if the states decide to also incorporate Little League’s method of tracking and announcing the pitches at the end of each half inning.  Currently, at Little League tournaments, P. A. announcers are required to announce the number of pitches thrown by the current pitcher at the end of the inning.  This is in conjunction with an official pitch counter who is also working the game.  If the state institutes these kinds of changes, then pressboxes could see some new faces this year.

Chron (Texas):  UIL to implement pitch count for 2016-2017 baseball season

How will the states cope?  Well, right now they’re working on it and below are some possible scenarios.

Official scorer will also track the number of pitches

This seems the most obvious of all scenarios.  Having worked Little League tournaments, it would be a good idea to have two people handle these roles.  Why?  If the official scorer is using a scorebook and forgets to track the number of foul balls after two strikes or forgets to count the ball in play when counting pitches, you can run into a situation where counts are wrong.  Having a person in charge of tracking all the pitches will help put in a system of checks and balances.  This works even better if the P. A. announcer also keeps a scorebook while announcing.  It’s easier than it seems and takes a couple of games to get the hang of.  Both teams should have someone tracking the pitches for each team to allow for a better system of checks-and-balances.

P. A. announcer will track the number of pitches

Since most high schools don’t run a full-on show like you see at college and professional level, this could be another solution.  In cases where the announcer is not in a pressbox, this could be an issue.  It really isn’t that hard to make a tick mark on a piece of paper after each pitch, it requires the announcers to pay a little more attention.  Most good and professional announcers don’t have a problem doing this.  If this does fall upon the announcer, it would be recommended to get a digital or clicker counter from an office supply store or simply order one from with many options available under $20.

An Official Pitch Counter will be required

This is most likely what is going to happen.  Every team has a parent, student-manager or players who aren’t playing in the game that can do this.  While handing this off to a responsible person is preferred, there still will be some issues that arise, but that’s going to happen across the board.  Ultimately, coaches are still going to be responsible for the well-being of their pitchers.

Communication needs to be required as each team should track pitches for both teams.  Not all scoreboards, yet, have the ability to track the number of pitches thrown and some scoreboard operators may not necessarily know how to reset the count once the game has started.  There will be growing pains with this, but a 10-minute delay here and there is better than a young athlete having to undergo surgery because they threw too many pitches.  Games will also take a little longer as there will be the possibility of more pitching changes in games, but that will work its way out as more coaches get used to the new limits.

For announcers, how will the required information be communicated, or will the information be required to be announced?  This has been left up to the individual state high school associations and if you are a baseball announcer, this is the time of year to start talking to your baseball coach to find the answer.  In some states like Virginia (linked above) and Florida, the final decision wont be made until closer to the start of the season, where Texas (linked above) already seems to have it worked out.

If you are required to make the announcement, it’s as simple as adding one line to your end-of-inning recap:

“For the Bobcats in the second, no runs, no hits, no errors and nobody left on base.  For Micah Rawlings, he has now thrown 27 pitches.”  The number of pitches in the inning doesn’t matter, just the cumulative number.  Also, announcing the team the pitcher is throwing for is unnecessary because you’ve already announced the batting team, and there’s only two teams in a baseball game so it’s information that doesn’t quite matter.

If you don’t do an end-of-inning recap, you can simply announce the following:

“Micah Rawlings of the Sentinels has now thrown 27 pitches.”

If you’re in a position in which you don’t get the information immediately, make it part of your lead-off announcement to start the next inning:

“Ladies and gentlemen, for the Sentinels, Micah Rawlings has thrown 27 pitches.  [Leave a pause]  Leading off the third for the Sentinels, the right fielder, number 2, Eric Mancini.”

Little League hasn’t required to have the announcer recognize each milestone pitch (15, 25, etc.), just the number at the end of the inning.  It’s quite possible that states will ask for this, if so, then the announcer is going to need to focus attention to the field at all times.  It does seem extreme to require this, especially if both teams are tracking this information, and the pitch count is being announced at the end of each inning.

One question that has been raised has been from the softball side.  While there are some who feel there should be pitch counts in softball, none have been approved yet.

Jarrod Wronski

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  • Coach Roy
    August 24, 2016, 9:13 am

    Pitch Counts are coming because USA Baseball through their “safe pitch” initiative is going to force anyone affiliated with them to comply.

    In the interest of full disclosure – I volunteer my services at the local High School Baseball and Legion Baseball games. The team budgets are stretched tight enough as it is.

    Many Little League scoreboards on fields where baseball is played (at least in Delaware) are already sporting the pitch count box – one for each side. Don’t know what all this technology costs, but it is an add on available to many scoreboards from the manufacturers. Of course equipping 3 or 4 fields with counters will pretty much destroy the equipment budget for a local league, but it is being mandated.

    One the higher levels, the good managers in HS and College are already keeping pitch counts on their players. The HS I work with has a player on the bench with a counter who keeps a paper accounting of each inning pitched (and other notes to help the head coach keep track.), but the conference is just now playing with specific pitch count limits for HS players.

    In my capacity as the American Legion Baseball Chairman, we have long enforced a 12 innings in 3 days policy that seems to work well for the 16-19 year old players in our league. Some of our older guys could pitch 9 effective innings every day, but most peak out somewhere in the 6th – usually around 75-85 pitches. Because our guys are in it to win, most managers will change pitchers when the ball vs strike count starts to move to the ball side.

    Now, having the announcer give the pitch count after each inning is a possibility – I would question of that I’d want to be the “official” counter – but the software I use to score does keep a count which I provide to our home manager when it gets up around 70. ESPN also keeps a full count on their TV games, along with the other TV networks – its part of their scoring system.

    The bottom line is that your coaches and their teams are going to be keeping pitch counts. The big question is whether the PA guy, missing in most upper level regular games, will be required to announce that information and what penalties there might be if that volunteer “forgot” a count late in the game. I’m not sure a volunteer could be held responsible in any situation where a pitch count was missed, and I don’t see the typical HS baseball program coming up with the money to pay a professional.

    What will become an issue is when the two dugouts have different counts and a very effective pitcher is nearing the limit late in a close game. The penalties right now are forfeiture of the game should a pitcher go over the inning limits. I can see a pitcher half way through an inning, and closing in on the pitch totals allowed – the opposing manager would wait until his count said the pitcher was one over and protest the game.

    Then the rhubarb would begin.


    • Jarrod Wronski@Coach Roy
      August 24, 2016, 10:07 am

      Roy, all great points and it’s good to have someone comment who is on the inside. In reference to the count boxes, that’s not required by facilities yet and I have the feeling it’s going to be suggested to be added to new scoreboard installations, not required that it has to be done now. In Virginia, they required shot clocks in all gyms, but nobody uses a shot clock in basketball. Maybe they’ll grab those out of the gyms and put them on the baseball field. The Daktronics 5000 series keeps track of the pitches as they’re thrown which is what I’m willing to bet ESPN is grabbing at the LLWS. Stat Crew, a very popular software for scoring, also tracks pitch counts and some TV pulls from that as well. I’m not sure if Game Changer allows for the integration yet, but that too does count the pitches and is what a lot of schools around the DC area are using now.

      Some coaches are keeping track of pitch counts, because counts are more important than innings pitched. When I coached a LL team a few years ago, I’d be lucky to get out of an inning with 25 pitches thrown. If I had a good pitcher, I’d need him to go as far as he could. If it was only innings, he probably would have thrown a lot more pitches. I like the change from innings pitched to pitches thrown.

      The official counter will most likely be the official book until you get to the tournament, then it becomes a designated person. In LL, pitchers can keep pitching once they hit their pitch count, they can finish the batter. So if the limit is 85, and my pitcher is on 84 to start the batter, he can throw 5, 10, 15 or how many pitches necessary to finish the plate appearance. It’s my hope the states keep this same rule, otherwise you’re right, it’s going to hit the fan.

      Right now, we’re in a waiting game to see what each state is going to do, and that’s where I’m nervous. Hopefully they’ll default to systems that are already in place rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

  • Coach Roy
    August 24, 2016, 9:16 am

    And on Softball – Little League dropped ALL pitching limits on softball two years ago because there is absolutely no research that supports restrictions on the under hand throwing motion.

    Having watch several outstanding pitching efforts in the last 2 LL Softball World Series, I can assure you that limiting pitching in softball would only penalize the really good pitchers, and not improve the quality of the game.

    Media Coordinator – Little League Softball World Series in Delaware


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