A new definition for a damaged bat will go into place starting the 2020 season for high school softball.

The new rule states that a damaged bat is deemed illegal once it has become broken, cracked, dented, rattles or has sharp edges that could ruin the ball.

Previously, a damaged bat was judged as illegal, with the penalty being an out when the player entered the batter’s box. Now, damaged bats are removed from the game without the cost of a penalty.

The change was recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Softball Rules Committee at its June 10-12 meeting in Indianapolis. It was then approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“This rule defines damaged bats and distinguishes them from non-approved and altered bats,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHSSoftball Rules Committee, in a press release. “The committee clarified the course of action that should be taken when a damaged bat is discovered in the game.”

Another rule change was made regarding fast-pitch pitching regulations. Pitchers must now take a position with the pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate.

Originally, pitchers needed to have their pivot foot on or partially on the top surface of the plate.

“The change allows for different styles of pitching and permits them to place their feet where pitchers feel most comfortable,” Searcy said.

The final change involved scoring runs. Under the new rule, a run is not scored when the third out is obtained by a preceding runner who is declared out on an appeal play. Previously, the rule only covered runners who were declared out for failing to touch one of the bases.

“There are two types of appeal plays that can be affected in this exception: failing to touch one of the bases and leaving the base too soon on a fly ball that is caught,” Searcy said.


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