The National Federation of High Schools has adopted rules for numerous high school sports, including softball. Softball offers a variety of rules to protect the players and maintain the integrity of the game. From illegal pitches to pitching dimensions to equipment specifications, NFHS rules are established and enforced throughout U.S. high schools.
NFHS requires that the pitching distance for fast-pitch players to be 43 feet from the pitcher's mound to home plate.The rule was placed in effect because NFHS studies showed that moving the mound to 43 feet, an increase from 40 feet, slightly increased more offensive numbers. The new rule also encourages more ball into play which increases defensive players' involvement and to enhance skill development.
NFHS requires that all non-traditional equipment must be approved by the committee before being used in the game. One example is a clear plastic face mask. The mask would replace the cage mask and may provide softball players with a visual advantage over the players using caged masks and an offensive advantage against a pitcher. Pitchers using Vaseline or an abrasive to cause movement on the pitches would constitute non-traditional equipment. The coaches and administrators in their respective league should call their state NFHS committee to receive approval on non-traditional equipment..
The NFHS provided a rule exception that allows pitchers and players on the team to control their hair. They can wear bobby pins, hair clips or barrettes no longer than two inches. Hair control is important as a sight impediment could cause a wild pitch and injury to the batter.
Pitchers are awarded a win if the pitcher throws half of the innings of the game. The pitcher can win if she starts as the pitcher, moves to the field and then returns to pitch. As long as she pitches half of the game's innings, she can win. Previously, the NFHS would count only the starter's innings and not the innings she completed when she returned to pitch.
When a pitcher leaps or pushes off to make a "crow hop," the pitch is illegal. If the pitch is considered illegal by the umpire and the batter hits the ball fair resulting in a base hit, her coach has an option to take the hit or take the penalty of the illegal pitch. The illegal pitch penalty is a ball with base runners awarded a base. The illegal pitch shall be called by the base or plate umpire and is loud enough for the players nearest to the umpire, either the pitcher and catcher for the plate umpire call or fielders near the base umpire making the call. Batters should be made aware by their coach that they can swing at an illegal pitch.