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Rules • October 16, 2017

July 24, 2017
For more information on rules please contact NSGA Team Dealer Division Director Marty Maciaszek at or (847) 296-NSGA (6742), ext. 1260.

Kentucky and Missouri have mandated certain high school softball players wear face protection in the field for the 2017-18 season.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) mandated the use of face protection in softball for pitchers, first basemen and third basemen for the 2018 spring season. The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) is requiring all pitchers to wear defensive face masks with the start of the fall 2017 season and is encouraging third basemen and first basemen to wear protective masks.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) does not have a rule for facemasks for pitchers, infielders or outfielders. The KHSAA submitted a proposal to amend the NFHS rules this summer but the recommendation was not approved. The new requirement applies to all levels of KHSAA play. No model or brand was specified but all face protection must be worn as the manufacturer intended to comply with NFHS rules.

“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. 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 continue to improve,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett in a statement from the association. “The marketplace will guide folks through the many already existing alternatives for face protection, along with the rules book requirement across the board in all NFHS sports that require equipment to be worn as intended by the manufacturer.

“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. Our students deserve only the best protection decisions that we, as rules and policy makers, can develop. It is also unfortunate that our Board’s proactive recommendation from 2014 to the member schools was not universally implemented by the school systems, schools, coaches, parents and student participants as perhaps those groups felt the need for a higher body to make the rule a requirement. If that was the case, they need wait no longer.”

The KHSAA Board of Control recommended the use of protective headgear in July 2014. The face protection mandate will also be recommended for immediate implementation to the Middle School Advisory Committee when it meets during the 2017-18 school year.

The MHSAA softball advisory committee voted a year ago to make facemasks a requirement for all high school pitchers in Missouri a year ago. Yancey Little, who has coached softball in Missouri for 16 years and is now an athletic director, is part of the advisory committee that made the rule change.

“First and foremost, we’re about the kids and the safety of the kids,” Little said to the Springfield News-Leader. “They’re getting balls hit right back at them and it just takes that one.”

“The hitting is more advanced than the pitching. Here we are pitching at 43 feet and there’s been nothing to slow down the bats, for lack of a better term. The bats are still hot and the kids are bigger, faster and stronger.”

Another Missouri coach, Josh McKee, has been encouraging his players to wear face masks for years.

“I pretty much require all of my pitchers to wear a mask,” McKee said. “I strongly recommend all of the infielders to wear them, too. I think they should all wear them on the infield. Bats are so hot these days.”