(USA TODAY HSS) - Kentucky became the first state to require face protection in high school softball for pitchers, first basemen and third basemen, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday. The rule, which also requires players to wear the equipment as the manufacturer intended, goes into effect with the 2018 season.
The KHSAA also has recommended to the Middle School Advisory Committee that the rule be implemented immediately; that group will meet during the upcoming school year.
The KHSAA submitted a proposal that would amend the National Federation rules, but the recommendation was not approved for national implementation.
“While I was disappointed with the NFHS Rules Committee action in not approving the proposal, it was not altogether surprising as there will always be disagreement when required equipment issues are debated,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in a news release. “However, we cannot sit idly by any longer when obvious solutions exist to protect the young ladies in the Commonwealth who want to play this great and continually growing game where the talent and ability levels continues to improve. …
“I am thankful our Board decided to act now rather than wait until the issue reaches critical mass and other entities find themselves in the position of needing to be reactive rather than proactive in this area. 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.”
Asked her reaction, Montana Fouts, an American Family Insurance ALL-USA High School Softball First Teamer said, “While I am pitching, I always wear a face mask. But I think it should be up to the individual player, although it couldn’t hurt anything.”