You'll be counting pitches, not innings next season in prep baseball

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The National Federation of State High School Associations announced last week that each state will be required to create new policies to restrict the number of pitches thrown by prep baseball pitchers.

The policies will go into effect for the 2017 season.

How many pitches kids will be allowed to throw per game, per day and per week, and how much rest they must take between outings, will be determined by the Iowa High School Athletic Association. Right now, Iowa limits pitchers to nine innings per day (or over a two-day period) and 16 innings per week (Sunday through Saturday).

There is a mandatory two-day resting period for pitchers who hit the nine-inning per-day limit or who throw on any two consecutive days with a combined total greater than four innings.

“Our administrative staff will meet with the Baseball Advisory Board and Sports Injury Advisory Committee,” said IHSAA Assistant Director Jared Chizek. “We know we have to have one in place for next year. We’ve done research and our homework on it. We had a pretty good feeling last year that this was going to happen, so it is not a surprise.”

Chizek there is no concrete timeline for a new policy. He was uncertain how the new pitch-count rule would be enforced, speculating perhaps QuikStats would be involved.

Certainly it will be interesting to see how this affects the game, particularly for smaller schools who do not have the same number of players available as bigger schools. For instance, the top 13 players this season in innings pitched are in Class 1A or 2A, according to QuikStats.

“Not a big fan,” said North Linn Coach Travis Griffith. “Puts more on coaches plates, and, to be honest, each pitcher is different, as far as how many pitches they should throw and how much rest is needed. I see most arm injuries occurring before high school and not during high school baseball.”

Other coaches are applauding the new impending policy.

“I think it’s great. I do,” said Cedar Rapids Jefferson Coach Kyle Rodenkirk. “So many of these kids are getting (elbows) blown up and having to get Tommy John (surgery) and surgery for torn labrums. I hope it also gets factored in that so many of these kids go to offseason pitching coaches and showcases. It protects the kid. That’s why we’re in this job, to protect the kids, keep them healthy. This is good to see. It’s about time.”

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