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Softball Strike Zone - NFHS & ASA
Email sent to the Utah High School Activities Association softball leadership on September 16, 2015...
UHSAA SOFTBALL LEADERSHIP,
In preparing for the upcoming softball season I have been reading the 2016 NFHS "Points Of Emphasis" and I need your feedback on the Strike Zone POE. As a newer softball official I have been following the more experienced officials and I find that the strike zone in the rule book is NOT the strike zone that is expected to be called in the Varsity and JV games. The current accepted strike zone is much smaller and I fear that calling the strike zone per the written definition will result in weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth from coaches and batters, yet the pitchers, catchers, and defensive coaches will love it (until their team is at bat). I have 3 quick questions at the end of this email that I need your responses so that I can adjust my zone where needed.
Here is the new "Point Of Emphasis"...
NFHS - 2016 POINTS OF EMPHASIS
STRIKE ZONE (FP)
The NFHS Softball Rules Committee believes that improvements have been made in helping umpires identify the strike zone for each hitter. Additional work on this issue is needed to make the game fair for all hitters. There is no such thing as a common strike zone for all hitters.
The strike zone for fast-pitch is the space over any part of home plate which is between the batter's forward armpit and the top of the knees when the batter assumes a natural batting stance. Any part of the ball passing through the strike zone in flight over the plate shall be considered a strike. The umpire shall determine each batter's strike zone according to the batter's usual stance.
The NHFS Softball Rules Committee reinforced its support of the Rule and encourages umpires to call the strike zone according to the Rule.
Here is the NFHS rule...
NFHS RULE - STRIKE ZONE - (2-56-3 Pg. 28 - 2015)
ART. 3... Strike Zone (F.P.). The strike zone (F.P.) is the space over home plate which is between the batter's forward armpit and the top of the knees when the batter assumes a natural batting stance. Any part of the ball passing through the strike zone in flight shall be considered a strike. The umpire shall determine the batter's strike zone according to the batter's usual stance.
And because I also officiate ASA, here is their virtually identical rule...
ASA - STRIKE ZONE - (Definitions -Pg.29 - 2015) - The space over any part of home plate, when a batter assumes a natural batting stance adjacent to home plate:
A. (Fast Pitch) Between the batter's: arm pits and the top of the knees.
QUESTIONS & DIAGRAMS
I diagrammed two strike zone images and would like your answers so that I can modify my officiating accordingly.
1) REAL CURRENT ZONE - Currently the accepted strike zone is “C” at the top and “E” at the bottom. Is that where I should keep it?
2) TOP - As I read the rule, “A” should be acceptable, but pushing it up to “B” will still get a lot of grief. Which is right?
3) BOTTOM - “D” should be the bottom of the zone, right?
I really look forward to receiving their feedback so that I can improve my officiating and bring it completely into harmony with the UHSAA leadership.
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah