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Softball Rules Committee supports experimentation with new ball in the fall

Softer, livelier ball is believed to play more consistently in different temperatures, be more forgiving when striking student-athletes

 

The NCAA Softball Rules Committee is recommending an experimental rule for the use of a new softball during the 2014 fall non-traditional season that is softer but livelier than the current softball being used in NCAA championships.

The committee, which met earlier this month, is interested to see how coaches and players feel about playing with the newly developed softball. The coefficient of restitution for the new ball, which measures the liveliness of the ball, increased from 0.47 to 0.52. And compression, which measures the hardness of the ball reduced from 350 pounds per square inch to 275 pounds per square inch.

All experimental rule proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss the Softball Rules Committee’s recommendation during a conference call on July 16.

“We’re asking coaches to try it out in the fall and give us feedback,” said NCAA Softball Secretary-Rules Editor Dee Abrahamson. “We are interested in the ball, because it is the ball used in the bat certification process done at Washington State University’s Sport Science Laboratory and has several attractive properties.”

One of those properties that could be a welcomed is its use in cold weather. Since the softballs used in NCAA play are made with a polyurethane core and a leather cover, the softballs become harder when the temperature drops.

“We have people who complain about breaking their bats in February when they are playing in the cold,” Abrahamson said. “With the new ball, whether you are playing in Arizona or North Dakota there should not be much of a difference in the softball’s performance.”

Another attractive property is its lower severity index, which means a ball that strikes a player will do less tissue damage than if the player was struck with the fastpitch softball currently in use.

Committee members are interested to see how the ball plays in competition and to see if the game will be improved by using it.

 

New Secretary Rules Editor

Abrahamson, who has been the sport’s only secretary-rules editor since 1996, is entering her final year in the position. A national search will take place this summer with the hope of finding a successor, so they can shadow Abrahamson during the 2014-15 academic year.

 

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Highlights

What happened: The NCAA Softball Rules Committee recommended an experimental rule allowing a new softball to be used during the 2014 fall non-traditional season. The ball to be used is softer but livelier than the current softball being used in NCAA championships.

What’s next: The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel will have to approve the experimental rule proposal. The committee is scheduled to discuss the Softball Rules Committee’s recommendation during a conference call on July 16.