It seems the public isn’t ready to adopt pitch limits for softball just yet.
This week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers to weigh in on the concept of pitch limits in softball. This all stemmed from Jackson High School pitcher Iyanla de Jesus pitching four games in one day to lead the Timberwolves to the 4A state championship. In softball there are no pitch limits in youth or high school ball, unlike baseball, which has strict pitch limits in an effort to reduce the likelihood of damage to young arms. There isn’t the same level of concern in softball about arm damage, largely because it’s believed the underhand pitching motion is more natural and therefore less susceptible to injury.
However, there isn’t the same amount of data available about the long-term effect of high-volume softball pitching the way there is for baseball pitching. The Herald’s Josh Horton wrote a story about the subject last week that examined both sides of the argument.
So we posed the question to the readers. Should softball adopt pitch limits? Here’s what you said:
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) June 10, 2019
Add it up and almost two thirds of the voters — 63 percent — said softball should not adopt pitch limits. while 37 percent said it should. So while it’s wasn’t unanimous, the inclination is to maintain the status quo.
Having chatted with Josh about the story, it seems softball coaches are mostly fine with the way things are now and do not want pitch limits. And as far as I know there is no large groundswell within the sport for pitch limits — though I admit I don’t really have a finger on the pulse of the youth softball community.
As for what I think? From a medical standpoint, I have no idea. I know that people say the softball motion is less susceptible to injury, and I don’t have any reason to disbelieve that. I can’t recall off the top of my head the University of Washington softball team losing a pitcher for the season because of an arm injury. So based on the little I know there doesn’t seem to be the same kind of need for pitch limits to protect the health of the pitchers.
However, from a competitive standpoint, I have to admit I’m curious. One thing I know about softball is that a dominant pitcher goes a long way toward the success of a team. If a team has a dominating pitcher and not much else, it can still win games. Personally, I prefer that team sports reward those who have a strong team rather than a strong individual, and pitch limits may be a way of doing that in softball. That would tilt the game toward teams that have developed more than one good pitcher. And if the overpowering throwers aren’t eating up all the innings, it cracks the door open a little more for teams that can hit and field.