High school notebook: Softball to add intentional walks in '18
Intentionally walking a batter in softball used to come with strategy — and required careful execution.
And it wasn't always a guarantee that it would come off without a hitch: a pitch too far inside could be hit; one too far outside could get past the catcher — even when a pitch-out was called.
But starting in 2018, when a team wants to walk an opposing batter, the coach or catcher must tell the umpire. The new rule came out of last month's National Federation of State High School Associations meeting.
Some coaches think the intentional walk takes strategy and suspense out of the game.
“Don't care for it,” longtime Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. “Pitch-outs are not easy for pitchers to execute. Time must be spent to be totally prepared to handle all situations. Now the coach that doesn't prepare for it will be rewarded by verbally putting the batter on first.”
Teams in Kentucky experimented with the rule change last season and recommended other states adopt it.
Former Hempfield star pitcher Morgan Ryan said she was surprised to see the rule put into place.
“In a way, I dislike it because it takes away a certain aspect of the game,” said Ryan, who is preparing to begin her college career at Notre Dame. “Sometimes games are won by capitalizing on the mistakes made by one team. Throwing intentional balls is a skill most pitchers and catchers do not practice a lot.”
Kalp, who led Hempfield to its third straight WPIAL title and second consecutive PIAA championship this past season, said the new rule for pitchers could shine a light on one for catchers that doesn't get much attention.
A catcher who steps out of the box before a pitch can be flagged.
“Not all know the actual rule involving the catcher staying in the box until the release of the ball,” Kalp said, “or it is an illegal pitch.”
For other coaches, like Yough's Dutch Harvey, the walk rule simplifies things.
“I see both sides to it,” Harvey said. “It does make it easier for someone like me who intentionally walks another team's big hitter regularly.”
One of the prime examples for Yough was former Greensburg Salem standout Jane Oberdorf, who rarely got to bat against the Cougars.
“Oberdorf was one I would walk every time,” Harvey said. “And if your pitcher missed that pitch out she would make you pay. I'd rather give them one base then more.”
Hempfield's two-sport twin standouts, Isaiah and Nick DiAndreth, were born two minutes apart. But they made college commitments two days apart. The incoming seniors will play baseball at the next level.
Isaiah will continue his playing career at Seton Hill. The shortstop announced his commitment to the Griffins Wednesday.
He hit .352 with 10 doubles, 18 runs scored and 18 RBIs last season.
Nick, meanwhile, disclosed Friday his intentions to play at IUP. He batted .315 last season and led the Spartans in runs (22) and stolen bases (8).
“They are great kids,” Hempfield coach Tim Buzzard said of the DiAndreths. “They are both competitive, they work hard and are great teammates.”
The DiAndreths also are key receivers and defensive backs for the football team.
Cartwright an All-American
Recent Greensburg Central Catholic graduate Bailey Cartwright was named a second-team All-Amercican by TopDrawerSoccer.com. The Notre Dame recruit also picked up all-region and all-state offers after a decorated prep career that saw her set PIAA and WPIAL records for career goals (230) and assists (159).
The assists total was determined to be a national record by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The 230 goals rank fourth all-time in the national record books.
Cartwright scored 64 goals last season to help GCC (21-3) to a runner-up finish in the WPIAL and a trip to the PIAA Class A semifinals.