IHSAA announces new baseball pitch count policy

WEBSTER CITY – The strategic maneuverings of prep baseball coaches just got a little trickier following the introduction of a pitch count policy by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

The IHSAA revealed the new rules on Wednesday and they will be effective beginning next spring. It will force teams to utilize more arms and not rely solely on one or two pitchers to get through the grueling season that can include up to 40 games.

“It’s going to be a whole new ballgame for pitching depth,” WCHS head baseball coach Adison Kehoe said. “You better have four or five guys to actually give you innings now. The biggest thing is now (pitchers) won’t have time to find it. They’ll have to work ahead from the first pitch.”

Pitchers in grades 10 through 12 will be limited to 110 pitches per game and 180 per week. Eighth graders and freshmen will be held to 90 pitches per game and 150 per week.

There are also new standards in terms of rest days, depending on how many pitches are thrown in one outing or day.

For example, if a pitcher throws 25 or fewer pitches in one game, he will be allowed to pitch again in the next game, whether that be the same day or the following day. However, if he throws 26 pitches, he will not be able to step to the mound again until after one day of rest.

The rest day guidelines include:

Throw up to 25 pitches – no rest required.

Throw 26-40 pitches – one day rest required.

Throw 41-65 pitches – two days rest required.

Throw 66-90 pitches – three days rest required.

Throw 91-110 pitches – four days rest required.

An adult designated by the host team and approved by both schools will be in charge of keeping track of the pitch counts for both teams. He or she will confirm the pitch count at the completion of each inning.

Coaches will also be required to enter pitch counts into QuikStats within 24 hours of the completion of the game.

Kehoe, a former all-state player for the Lynx who spent the last two summers as the program’s pitching coach, is in favor of the new policy. It will benefit the long-term health of pitchers, he said.

“Having played the game and worked with pitchers, I’m actually pretty happy about it,” Kehoe said. “The actual throwing motion is such an unorthodox motion and that constant stress that you put on the rotator cuff is not a natural movement. So in the long run it will do nothing but help the health of the person and not just the years they’re playing, but further down the road.”