By BTP Coaches
The illegal pitching problem in college softball seems to be masked during the regular season and then postseason hits. As soon as regional weekend comes around, it suddenly becomes an out-of-control problem.
Last weekend in Athens, Northwestern was called for about 40 or more illegal pitches in four games. The problem, according to umpires, was that the NU pitchers were crow hopping. The underlying problem is that their pitchers pitched that way all season and weren’t called for it.
Here is a Twitter post from Big Ten play:
Stay with the play, young fielders!
— NorthwesternSoftball (@NUSBcats) May 6, 2018
Now you tell us what the difference between this and what happened last weekend?
What is a crow hop? According to USA Softball, “A crow hop is defined as the act of a pitcher who steps, hops, or drags off the Front of the pitcher’s plate, replants the pivot foot, establishing a second impetus (or starting point), pushes off from the newly-established starting point and and completes the delivery.”
It is also defined by USSSA as, “A crow hop is the replanting of the pivot foot prior to delivery of the pitch.”
Here is a page of out of the NCAA Rule Book about illegal pitches.
So why now? Why is is it that all of a sudden that illegal pitches are called multiple times when they don’t necessarily get called during the regular season. We have our theory and we have heard it’s that coaches have a unspoken code. If one coach knows his pitcher is borderline illegal than he or she won’t say anything to the umpire if the other team’s pitcher look illegal.
Jordan Taylor whom, instead of being known for her talent at Michigan, was known for her 38 illegal pitches in one game. She took to Twitter to tell her side of the argument.
“Somehow I was known as the poster child for illegal pitches which is kinda funny considering when you look at pics I was no where near the worst offender,” said Taylor. “I spent the better part of two years and all of the 2010 season trying to correct it. You’re talkin lowering my foot by 0.5” which is close to impossible.”
“For those saying to pitchers ‘just drag!’ I have several words for you but for right now I’ll just try to explain it as telling you to ‘just start writing with your opposite hand.’ Muscle memory’s not there is it….what a conundrum…”
“Pitching is HARD guys! You’re talkin about at least 10-12 different things you’re focusing on to work together within split seconds of each other & if you’re even slightly off on one of them, your pitch ain’t doin what it’s supposed to. So after hundreds of thousands of pitches, you’re telling me to change something that I can’t even feel I’m doing???? Hahahahaha ok.”
“Now, I’m not saying it’s impossible to change. It is possible. But when umpires don’t call it for years and years and then decide to randomly call it…..changing it that quickly IS impossible. Changing it in the middle of season is IMPOSSIBLE!”
We think that we can all agree on a couple things. If you are going to call one pitcher for it then you need to call all pitchers for it. This postseason illegal pitching problem has been going on for far too long and there needs to be a change.
In international play, pitchers are allowed to crow hop. If we are trying to prepare these athletes to play at the next level whether it be WBSC or NPF, then the crow hop should be legal or the umpires all need to be on the same page with calling it. Because if we have another weekend like the last, then things will look a little more fishy.
What do you suggest should happen to fix the problem?