Protective face masks will be mandatory for high school softball pitchers, first basemen and third basemen in Kentucky beginning with the 2018 season.
The KHSAA adopted the new requirement as part of its first organized meeting of the 2017-18 school year in Covington. The change makes Kentucky the first state to require protective headgear in high school softball.
During the National Federation of High Schools summer meeting (June 28-July 2), the KHSAA submitted a proposal to require protective headgear nationwide but it was not approved by the higher body. KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett commended his organization for its willingness to be proactive.
“While I was disappointed with the NFHS Rules Committee action in not approving the proposal, it was not altogether surprising as there will always be disagreement when required equipment issues are debated. However, we cannot sit idly by any longer when obvious solutions exist to protect the young ladies in the commonwealth who want to play this great and continually growing game where the talent and ability levels continues to improve,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in a news release. “The marketplace will guide folks through the many already existing alternatives for face protection, along with the rules book requirement across the board in all NFHS sports that require equipment to be worn as intended by the manufacturer.”
The KHSAA in 2014 made a recommendation for schools to use protective equipment in softball, but it was not required.
“It is also unfortunate that our Board’s proactive recommendation from 2014 to the member schools was not universally implemented by the school systems, schools, coaches, parents and student participants as perhaps those groups felt the need for a higher body to make the rule a requirement,” Tackett said. “If that was the case, they need wait no longer.”