Interesting Softball GMC Softball Research - Impact of Pitching Distance Increase
Impact of High School Softball Pitching Distance - submitted by Lakota West Sports Information Director, Bob Ashby
The softball pitching distance was increased from 40 feet to 43 feet starting with the 2011 season. The purpose of this National Federation of High School Softball rule change as stated by Mary Struckhoff is given below.
''Our main thrust is getting the defense more involved,'' NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Softball Rules Committee Mary Struckhoff recently told the Associated Press. ''When more balls are hit into play, the defense is more involved in the game, thus enhancing skill development.''
Now after six years of play at the new distance it appears that the change has accomplished its purpose. Lakota West Co-Sports Information Director and Sports Statistician Bob Ashby has taken a look at the cumulative GMC statistics for the last twelve years comparing the six seasons (2005-2010) before the pitching distance increase to the six seasons (2011-2016) following the change.
Ashby's findings are as follows.
The league six year batting averages went up from .241 (2005-2010) to .282 (2011-2016). The low average for a single season was .219 in 2006 with the highest average of .314 occurring in 2014.
The number of strike outs over the same periods has fallen from 1766 to 1340 per year. That's a drop of 24% in the most recent six years when compared to the previous six years. The single season high was 2028 K's in 2006 as compared to the low mark of 1049 in 2015.
The most dramatic change has occurred in the number of home runs hit. The average home run count for the past six seasons has been 78 per year, up from 36.3 for the previous six years.
The low home run count in this 12 season span was 25 in 2005 and the high number has been 92 round trippers in the season just concluded.
While there are other factors that may be effecting these stats, i.e.; more strength and weight training, improved bat technology, increased player specialization, some change in league composition (Mason replaced Milford in 2008) it appears safe to say that pitching distance is most probably the major factor.