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NFHS rules high school associations must have pitch counts for baseball for 2017 season

FARGO—The National Federation of State High School Associations announced Tuesday, July 12, high school baseball rules will now require a pitching restriction based on the number of pitches thrown in a game, rather than amount of innings.

Each state's high school association must develop its own pitching restriction policy for the 2017 season, which will put a limit on pitches thrown and how many days of rest are required based on the number of pitches.

With more than half of Tommy John surgeries going to athletes between the ages of 15 and 19, the North Dakota High School Activities Association is not surprised by the ruling.

"When they see stats like that I'm sure they said we need to do something to cure this," NDHSAA assistant director Justin Fletschock said. "It's another step in maintaining the safety of our athletes and making a product that keeps them away from harm."

Fletschock was happy the NFHS didn't create an all-encompassing rule for which every state had to follow.

"The nice part is they didn't do a one-size-fits-all plan for the country," Fletschock said. "That's good because baseball in North Dakota is different than baseball in Florida or New York."

Fletschock said coaches will be meeting soon at a convention. He thinks they'll put together a committee of coaches, a sports medicine person and a few athletic directors to try to put together a policy. He hopes to have it done by Jan. 1, but there is no real sense of urgency with the season eight months away.

"I don't think we'll be reinventing the wheel here," said Fletschock, a former pitcher for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and North Dakota State. "Colorado has had it for three years, so they're pretty ingrained. Wisconsin passed one a month ago. We'll probably go off some of that."

The Minnesota State High School League has a proposal in place, which is currently receiving feedback from high school coaches. The MSHSL will discuss it at a workshop in August and hope to vote on it in October.

The proposal requires three days of rest for 105 pitches and two days of rest for 75 pitches. If a pitcher is a sophomore or younger they will require three days of rest after 85 pitches. Finally, 30 pitches allows for back-to-back days of work, but rest on the third day.

"Our current rule is innings. Fourteen innings over a three-day period of time," MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle said. "It's really outdated. A pitcher can pitch 35 innings in a seven-day period. The rule isn't effective. It just doesn't fit anymore."

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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