May 3 Softball Memo

Happy first day of practice!
Best wishes to everyone as you officially begin your softball season today. It is a little soggy as I look out my window now, but I hope that sunnier days are on the horizon. I hope all of you could take advantage of the ten additional days of skill instruction before today. As the season begins, I want to take some time to bring some items to your attention.

2021 Softball Rules Meeting
All varsity head coaches must view the 2021 Softball Rules Meeting before the first official contest (May 20). You can view the meeting by clicking here. If you have not done so already, coaches will need to register and create an account. This is the account you will access to print off certificates of completion when you need them for renewals or to view other rule meetings. We encourage coaches at all levels of competition to view the rules meeting.

IGHSAU Rule Adaptations
Iowa softball rule adaptations can be viewed by clicking here.

Game Ending Procedures
All regular-season games must be legal games, per NFHS rules, i.e., home leading after 4 1/2 innings.  This includes any games played in tournaments.  For schools hosting tournaments and are now preparing tournament information for the participating teams, please provide written communication on the game-ending procedures for the tournament, particularly when there is a time limit or weather delays.  Those procedures should also be shared with umpires and discussed at the pre-game conference with coaches during the tournament.

Scrimmage Policy
Scrimmages between member schools shall be permitted between the first legal practice and the final day of State Tournament play. Teams may travel up to and including 100 miles from the home high school base for scrimmages, providing such is affected without loss of school time. On a non-school day, a team may exceed this 100-mile limit with local school administration approval. Iowa teams may scrimmage a high school team from another contiguous state (plus Kansas), provided that the school is a member institution of that state’s activity association and that it falls within the 100-mile scrimmage radius. 

If a school is scrimmaging at an out-of-state school, the scrimmage rules of that state shall apply. Iowa scrimmage rules will apply for scrimmages held in Iowa. A scrimmage shall be defined as that which takes place between member schools at one site on one calendar day, as well as an established definition relating to the mandatory absence of scorekeeping, stats compilation, and spectator charge. For a player to be charged with a scrimmage, she must have participated in the scrimmage.

Licensure and Concussion Training
All coaches working for your junior high and high school softball staff (paid and volunteer) must be appropriately licensed and have completed the annual concussion training.  Individuals are not allowed to "coach" in any capacity, either during practice or competition.  Steve Mitchell at the Iowa Board of Education Examiners may be contacted for further information.  His phone is (515) 281-6896 or email him at steve.mitchell@iowa.gov.

Concussion Course
All coaches are also required to view “Concussion in Sports – What you need to know.” If you have not viewed this yet, you may access the meeting by clicking here.  

COVID-19 Guidelines for the 2021 Season
COVID-19 Guidance for the 2021 season was sent to coaches and athletic administrators last week. Click here to view the guidelines for the 2021 season.

Preseason Prospectus
The preseason prospectus can be downloaded by clicking here.  I compile the softball rankings during the regular season, and the prospectus is an excellent tool for me to get to know a little bit more about your team and the teams in your area. It is not required that coaches fill out the form, but the information is always helpful. The prospectus is a downloadable PDF that you can fill out and return to me at jasoneslinger@ighsau.org.

Classifications
A tentative classification for the 2021 softball season was posted on the IGHSAU website and sent to coaches and administrators last month. The classifications become final after the first week of practice. Classifications can be viewed by clicking here. Please double-check your BEDs number, especially if you are in a cooperative sharing agreement. Please contact Jason Eslinger if you have any changes or there are any errors you have discovered.

The Final Umpire Clinic is Tonight
Our final umpire clinic will be held virtually on Zoom tonight (May 3) at 7:00 p.m. If you wish to view the clinic, please click on this link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81372063108?pwd=bDhrR2cvMDJCdm1CZXJaRno0Q1JWUT09 . Umpires that want to work in the postseason must view the clinic. I highly encourage coaches to view the clinic if they can. If you cannot view the clinic, I’ll have a video of one of the sessions posted on our website after tonight’s meeting.

 Bat Certification
Softball bats must bear the 2004 ASA certification mark AND NOT be listed on the USA Softball non-approved bat list with the ASA certification marks.  The 2020 USA bat certification mark has been released and is shown below.  You may see bats with this mark as pre-production models are available.  The IGHSAU has approved the immediate use of the new USA Softball Certification Mark for all bats. To be clear, for a bat to be approved for use in IGHSAU competition, it must bear the ASA Certified 2004 mark or the 2020 USA Softball Certified mark (see below) AND NOT be listed on the USA softball non-approved bat list.  For example, there is an Easton Ghost Bat with gray barrel, gold lettering not on the non-approved bat list.  The reason for this is that there is no ASA mark on the bat.  If there is no mark, it is ILLEGAL.  If a bat has one of the two permissible marks, please make sure it is also NOT on the illegal list.

Complete bat information is available online at:
https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Softball/~/link.aspx?_id=015F4358A30B44368FC142350D112FFF&_z=z

Wristband Change Reminder
NFHS rules regarding wristbands were changed in 2018 under Rule 3-2-7c. The language was added to address the use and placement of the wristband playbook/play card and defines this item as a piece of equipment. It no longer has to match the color of the uniform but does need to be a single solid color and not optic yellow.  In addition, if utilized as a play card, it must be worn on the non-pitching arm.

Headbands
Headbands worn by players may bear a single manufacturer's logo.  They may not have another logo i.e., local sponsor, on them.  Two logos are not permissible. Iowa adaptations allow headbands of any color.

Face Protection
NFHS rules do not mandate facemasks for softball players.  It is permissible by NFHS rules, and schools are encouraged to work with players and parents on the use of facemasks by infielders.  Please note that if facemasks are worn, the eye cover may NOT be tinted. 

QuikStats/Varsity Bound
If you have not done so already, please get your schedules and rosters posted in QuikStats/Varsity Bound. Schools are reminded to post just your home schedule on Varsity Bound. Remember, it is mandatory to post softball stats. The IGHSAU will be checking every Tuesday during the regular season to make sure schools are updating. ALL stat categories must be filled in. If we are asking for a stat, the expectation is that the info is kept.  If you are having issues with QuikStats/Varsity Bound, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help.  A great tool I would also recommend having your parents and fans download is the Varsity Bound Mobile App. All of the information on QuikStats is available on the Varsity Bound app, including driving directions to away games, match-ups, and rosters for each game and statistics.

Reporting Your Scores
The IGHSAU will have a daily score page on the website and a daily score page on the QuikStat website. The score page is only as good as the information that is posted to it. The basic rule of thumb is this: the home team should post scores on Varsity Bound as soon as possible after each contest(s). When a score is posted, it automatically is posted to the Quikstats site, the @IGHSAUscores Twitter account, and the IGHSAU daily score page. Coaches should plan on adding their scores when playing games at a neutral site.

On-site Administrator
On-site administrators and site managers are required for all home contests.  Please designate an adult for each location if hosting a baseball/softball doubleheader.  If the AD is responsible for both baseball and softball at one site, they should designate another qualified adult (not the head coach) as a designee in case they are unavailable. Umpires have been advised not to begin games unless the designated site supervisor/administrator is present and identified to them.

Lightning and Weather Delays
Take a few minutes to visit with school site administrators regarding lightning and weather delays.  Before the start of any game, the host school administration is responsible for monitoring the weather.  Once the game is in progress, the umpires are responsible for delaying due to thunder and/or lightning.  If thunder is heard or sky to ground lightning is observed, CLEAR THE FIELD and follow your school's inclement weather plan for teams, fans, and workers.  A 30-minute delay is mandatory after each lightning strike.  During this delay, take time to gather more information via websites and the National Weather Service.  Software is available that helps indicate the distance of the lightning strike and the movement of the storm.

Field Markings
Please be advised of the proper field markings, including the media box and the on-deck circle. A media box is required to be lined in foul territory down the third base line for all regional contests. An additional media box down the first base line is recommended. The minimum dimensions of these boxes shall be 5 feet wide by 3 feet deep.

The on-deck circle must be in a safe location to the side and away from home, or 30' if space allows.  It should measure 5'.  See figure 1-1 on page 8 of the NFHS Rules Book.

Batters boxes of various sizes have been reported in the past by our umpires.  Please refer to the diagram in figure 1-1 in the NFHS Rule Book.  If the umpire requests to have the boxes re-drawn because they are incorrect, please advise your field crews to comply with the umpire's instructions.

Official Games
Games may not be shortened even if by mutual agreement of coaches.  By rule, the home team must be ahead after 4 ½ innings or the visitor after five complete innings.  IGHSAU margin-of-runs rules are as follows: a 12-run differential after 3 or 4 innings (2.5 or 3.5 innings if the home team is leading by 12 or more runs) and a 10-run differential rule after 5 or 6 innings (4.5 or 5.5 innings if the home team is leading by ten or more runs).  If a time limit is placed on games during tournaments and the game is not official, then tournament procedures should include completing the game.  If the weather could be an issue, please consider playing the varsity game first so that it will not be shortened.

Intentional Walks
The IGHSAU is following the NFHS rule regarding intentional walks, and there is NOT an Iowa adaptation requiring that pitches be thrown

Ejection Policy
If a coach/player is ejected from a game/match, he/she does not coach/play for the remainder of that game/match. They may coach/play in other competitions later on that same day. Any sanction issued by the school or State Office will be served on a subsequent date after a review of the filed reports.

When a coach is serving a suspension, he/she may not coach and must be out of sight and sound of the contest venue. They are not permitted to watch the contest(s) as a spectator unless they have a daughter playing in the game (s). If a player is serving a suspension, she may not be in uniform or participate in the contest(s) or pre-game warm-up but may be in street clothes on the bench, dugout, etc.

If you have an ejection, an ejection report must be filed with the IGHSAU by the umpire and the player/coach ejected. The report may be downloaded by clicking here.

It's On The Website!
If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to view the Softball Coaches and Administrators page on the IGHSAU website. There are several PowerPoint presentations that address DP Flex Strategies for Coaches to pitching videos. I will also post memos and correspondence from Officials Coordinator Cathy Creighton in this area. I recommend checking the page for updates often.

Tell Us About Your Milestones
The IGHSAU wants to hear about anything unique that happens during the season. If a coach reaches a milestone victory or a player achieves a specific milestone (100th career wins, school records, no-hitters, etc.), please let us know about it. We will be sure to make mention of it through our Twitter account. You can email me with any milestone achievements.

A few questions
I’ve received some correspondence from coaches and administrators that have come up continuously. I thought I would share those with you.

Q. Can a player compete on both a travel team and the high school team during the regular season?
A.
This is an issue for your local school district. They should have a policy in place that addresses this question. The IGHSAU does not prohibit students from competing on both teams during the softball season. However, some districts do have policies that prohibit students from doing both. Be sure to check with your athletic administrator if you are unsure what your school’s policy is.

Q. When can junior high softball begin practicing?
A. It is again up to the local school as to when junior high softball can start. Junior high softball cannot begin before the varsity season starts on May 3. Sixth graders may participate (practice or play) on the junior high team on the first day of practice.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and best wishes to all of you as you begin your season. Please feel free to call or email with any questions your may have.

Jason Eslinger
Assistant Director/Softball Administrator