Friday, May 12, 2023

Catcher Hits Batter with Throw - Is this an Unsporting Act?

The McCamey Lady Badgers high school softball team is under investigation by the Texas University Interscholastic League after its catcher threw a ball into an opposing batter's head with no imminent play nearby.

With one out and a runner on second, after receiving a 0-1 pitch, the catcher stood and threw the softball directly at Cisco High School's batter in the right-handed batter's box. The runner on second wasn't attempting to steal and the fielder at third base was actually playing in—there was no one at the base and no play to be made.

This was actually the second time McCamey's catcher threw a ball at a batter's head, the first occurring earlier in the game when Cisco had a runner on third base—a potential back pickoff play. No interference was called and no ejections occurred.

The National Federation of High Schools in 2015 placed the interference rule as a point of emphasis for NFHS Softball, instructing coaches: "The NFHS Softball Rules Committee emphasizes that coaches remind their players about this definition [of interference], and what they need to do."

Could this have been coached to try and draw an interference call? It's certainly not the first time a catcher has thrown a ball into a batter in the box, nor is it the first time a catcher would have been instructed to throw at a batter(-runner), as often occurs on potential runner's lane interference plays down the first baseline.

NFHS Softball's Rule 2.35 defines malicious contact as "excessive force with an opponent"—notably not requiring the force take place between two players' bodies. Could a softball thrown at the head of an opponent at close range qualify as "excessive force"? Or does this play fit the Unsporting Acts bill, as in NFHS 3.6.13?

Or is it nothing? Whatever it is, it's now in the League's hands | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Catcher throws ball into opponent's face...was it intentional and unsporting?


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