This season the Arizona Interscholastic Association implemented pitch count limits for high school baseball and Verde Valley coaches support the move.
Freshmen and sophomores are limited to a maximum of 95 pitches and juniors and seniors 105. If each age reaches a certain amount of pitches then they must rest for a number of days based on how high that pitch count reached. For example, a freshman who has 40 pitches has to rest for two days and a senior who has 82 pitches has to rest for four days.
“I think the pitch count’s good,” said Camp Verde head coach Will Davis. “We don’t need kids going out and throwing 120 innings in a season, that’s crazy and we’ve seen that in the past.”
Warm up and dead ball (ones thrown after time is called or on a balk) pitches do not count but foul balls do. Rest days are a full day regardless of start time of the game. Double headers do not count as rest days but the pitch count limit can be split up between both games.
The pitch count rules do not change during the playoffs. A pitcher can continue an at bat if he reaches the max.
Mingus Union head coach Bob Young said the rule won’t affect the Marauders.
“It’s good,” Young said. “We’ve always monitored our pitchers but there hasn’t been an official thing that we’ve had to do but you know it’s to help the pitchers makes sure that we save their arms, so it’s good.”
Davis said the new rule hasn’t had much of an impact on Camp Verde, who has 11 players on the roster who are listed as potential pitchers.
“For us so far this year it hasn’t been a real issue,” Davis said. “We got a lot of seniors, a lot of kids that can throw we don’t have any real pitchers per se with everybody willing to take the mound when it’s their turn and take the ball when it’s their turn, we haven’t had any problems with it yet.”
Of the 15 players on the Cowboys’ roster, 10 are seniors.
“Next year it may be a totally different story, with a lot of young guys,” Davis said.
The Cowboys have only had one pitcher hit the pitch count limit and that was in the Bagdad Copper Classic.
“We haven’t had one pitcher throw more than 75 pitchers other than the one time all year,” Davis said. “Yeah it really hasn’t affected us in any way yet.”
On the other side, in the tournament championship game, Bagdad’s pitcher hit his limit with the Sultans leading 8-5.
“They brought in another kid that we ended up hitting well and winning 9-8,” Davis said.
While the rule is expected to help student athletes, it could also hurt smaller schools.
Davis said he talked to Needles (Calif.) and Page coaches over the weekend at the Route 66 Baseball Tournament and they were concerned with who they would send to the mound when they have three games in a week.
“It definitely hurts smaller schools more than it hurts bigger schools,” Davis said. “On a normal year, we might have three or four kids that have to throw all the innings and they won’t be able to do that no more, so I’m not sure what a smaller school without a lot of throwers is gonna be able to do.”
California’s new pitch count limit, which also started this year, is a little bit more lenient, with the max being 110 pitches.
According to Baseball America, the only state high school baseball governing bodies without pitch count limits or at least a proposal that is going to be voted on are Massachusetts and Connecticut. BA said Arizona, Maryland and Florida have the strictest pitcher limits.
Davis said schools like Page and Needles could have problems.
“They’re going to throw guys who don’t have the best opportunity to win games for them and that’s what it’s come down to,” Davis said.