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High School Baseball Pitching Rules

By Denise Sullivan

Every year, the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) issues rules governing high school baseball. While the Official Baseball Rules rarely change, the NFHS frequently revises its rules to improve the safety of high school players. Be sure to check the latest version of the pitching rules before starting your next high school baseball season.

Pitching Motion

When winding up, the pitcher must start facing the batter and may not pump his arms more than twice. The windup may not start until both of the catcher's feet are within the catcher's box. Once the pitcher comes to the set position, he must come to a complete stop before separating his hands to deliver the ball. While in the set position, the entire glove must rest below the pitcher's chin. The pitcher must step away from the pitching rubber if he wishes to re-set his body or hands after becoming set. If the pitcher's non-pivot foot crosses the rear edge of the pitching rubber, the ball must be delivered to home plate and not thrown toward a base as an attempt to pick off a runner. Failure to follow these procedures will result in a balk, allowing baserunners to advance one base.

Mound Conferences

The coach is permitted to come to the mound for a conference with the pitcher three times during the game, including twice during the same at-bat. If the pitcher is removed, the conference does not count against this limit of three. After the three conferences have been used, the coach can still come out for a fourth, but the pitcher must be removed from the mound. It is considered a conference as soon as the coach walks across one of the foul lines. During extra-inning games, one conference is permitted in each additional inning. These extra conferences cannot be saved and used in later innings.

Substitution Rules

A pitcher may be removed from the mound and stay in the game by switching to another fielding position. If he is removed from the game, he may not re-enter as a fielder in a later inning. Unless the pitcher is injured during the at-bat, he must pitch until the first batter is out or has reached base. A relief pitcher must also complete one full at-bat before he can be replaced with another relief pitcher, unless he sustains an injury and cannot continue. A relief pitcher is allowed to make eight warm-up pitches, even when entering the game in the middle of an inning.

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