By Greg Johnson
The Playing Rules Oversight Panel during its conference call Monday approved the protocol for mandatory regular-season softball bat compliance testing that goes into effect in the spring of 2011.
This marks the first time the tests, which will be conducted at yet-to-be-determined regular-season tournaments in all three divisions, are mandatory. Postseason bat testing, including post-competition testing, remains in place.
Wherever mandatory NCAA bat compliance testing takes place, all teams must have their bats tested before competing in the tournament.
A portable barrel compression machine will be used to conduct the test. The machines are about the size of a radar gun. Bats that pass the test, which can be conducted in a matter of seconds, will have a dated sticker placed on it so umpires know the bat has been tested.
If it is discovered during play that a player is using a bat without the appropriate sticker while in the batter’s box or after she’s completed her at-bat before the first pitch is thrown to the next batter, the batter will be declared out and will be ejected from the game. The bat will be surrendered to the umpire and returned to the team after the game. The umpire will fill out an incident report and send it to NCAA Softball Secretary-Rules Editor Dee Abrahamson.
“We have nine portable barrel compression machines, and we’re in the process of purchasing more so we can go to more places,” said Abrahamson, who is also the senior associate athletics director at Northern Illinois. “We can only go so many places, because we do have to manage a budget.”
The NCAA Softball Rules Committee is also in the process of putting together an approved softball bat list that will go into effect January 1, 2011. The bat models are the ones manufacturers are confident will be in compliance with an exit speed of less than 98 mph.
The committee asked that manufacturers provide 2004 American Softball Association certified bat models to be placed on the list. The list will be amended as the result of lab compliance testing or at the manufacturer’s request. The NCAA 2011 Approved Softball Bat List replaces and supersedes the ASA non-approved softball bat list.
PROP also approved a recommendation from the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Committee to change the number of points it takes to win one of the first four sets of a match to 25. Previously, it took 30 points to win one of the first four sets. The fifth set remains 15 points.