IHSA panel suggests pitch-count limits: 115 for varsity
A plan to impose daily and weekly limits on the number of pitches Illinois high school baseball players are allowed to throw could take effect this spring.
The Illinois High School Association's baseball advisory committee agreed Tuesday to recommend the limits -- including 115 pitches per game for varsity pitchers -- with an eye toward helping prevent young players from suffering throwing-related injuries caused by overuse.
The panel is recommending a 95-pitch limit for players on freshman and sophomore teams. And it is recommending a weekly cap on the number of pitches.
The IHSA is expected to release all the details Wednesday.
Aurora Central Catholic head baseball coach Sean Bieterman, who serves on the advisory committee, said the recommendations will also include a required number of days of rest between games.
"I think we've done a great service to our kids to make sure coaches are being responsible," said Bieterman, also Aurora Central's athletic director.
Officials are considering, too, whether to regulate how many days of rest a pitcher must have between appearances on the mound based on pitch counts.
"The more pitches you throw, the more time of rest you will have," Bieterman said.
If a player throws the maximum number of pitches in a game, he must rest for least four days.
Bieterman said the panel also supports creating a database to track how many pitches each player throws.
The baseball advisory committee's recommendations will be vetted by another committee and the IHSA staff before going to the IHSA's board of directors, which gets the final say on what regulations will be implemented for the spring baseball season.
The IHSA must adopt limits because the National Federation of State High School Associations, which writes the rules for most high school sports in the country, has decreed state associations develop a pitch count.
The mandate from the federation comes as doctors serving on the IHSA's sports medicine advisory committee are raising concerns about young baseball players needing elbow and shoulder surgeries.
"The number has risen and the age at which they're offering those surgeries has gotten younger," Craig Anderson, executive director of the IHSA, said last week. "So it's concerning."
Injuries among young pitchers are partly blamed on players throwing year-round and not giving their arms sufficient time to rest.
IHSA officials said it makes sense to establish pitch limits for player safety. They say they hope travel and fall ball leagues will follow suit.