Sports 14 - May 20, 2011
Pelham~Windham Sports Softball Mound Takes a Step Back
by Chris White Let’s face it. In any sport, change is imminent. No matter how much we love the sports we
Windham’s Ashley Adamson unleashes a pitch during a recent home game against Goffstown
play and watch, there will always be someone trying to change them for better or worse. These changes usually include rule modifications or even adjustments to the playing field that are designed to reduce one party’s advantage over another in a competitive setting. In recent years, one issue on the high school softball hot stove has been whether or not the pitching mound should remain at 40 feet from home plate or be moved back to 43 feet (where the college mound stands). In 2009, a rule change made by the National Federation of State High School Associations required every state to move the mound back to 43 feet by the start of the 2011 season. This was done to increase offense (hitters have more time to see the ball), reduce the advantage of pitchers (more balls would be put into play for the defense to field), and increase the safety of pitchers (pitchers have more time to react to a comebacker). The state of New Hampshire got on board with the plan this season and the effects of the change have been apparent. “State-wide, I think I’ve seen more offense based on the scores I’ve seen,” Windham coach David
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Hedge said. “I’ve seen more balls put into play this year, so I would agree that there has been more offense.” Now, I
some people are thinking: What’s the big deal here? It can’t make that much difference. It’s only three feet. But in a game of inches, a difference of three feet can really add up fast and not only have an impact on the outcome of each game, but also on how the game is played because of who it favors. “If anything, the hitters should have more of an
advantage,” Pelham coach Todd Lozeau said. “At 43 feet, you give the hitters an extra split-second to see the ball. Every split-second counts.” The only argument contrary to that statement
would be pitchers like Salem’s Nicole Gubellini and Valerie Bauer, who both rely heavily on their breaking pitches in order to be successful. “The biggest difference is the ball movement,” said Gubellini, who sports a 5-0 pitching record for the Blue Devils this season under the guidance of coach Harold Sachs. “It has more time to break at 43 feet. At 40 feet, the ball can’t break as much.”
So in the grand scheme of things, a longer
pitching distance could be favorable to a pitcher with a good curve ball, rise ball, drop ball, or screw ball. But at the same time, hitters are able to take more time reading the ball. Naturally, the longer distance is giving hitters more time and pitchers more space. “For pitchers, the longer distance is better for their ball movement and hitters can see the ball for a longer time, so it kind of helps both,” said Bauer, who will pitch at Merrimack College next year.
Probably the most important result of the
change, however, is that it will prepare high school pitchers for the college game. “I’ve always wanted it at 43 feet because it’s
a varsity sport and we should be able to play at the same distance the college girls are playing at,” said Coach Lozeau, who is coaching pitchers Hannah Schaffer and Jordan Parece at Pelham this
Salem pitcher Nicole Gubellini delivers to home plate versus Pinkerton earlier this season
And he’s not the only coach who is a proponent of the longer distance. “To have it at 43 feet is good for the game,” said Coach Hedge, who coaches pitchers Ashley Adamson and Rachel Vafides at Windham. “More offense makes the defense work harder and you don’t have as many dominant pitchers as you would have had at 40.” Whether it’s for better or worse, at least it’s the way to go for now.
Python Baseball on the Outside Looking In
by Marc Ayotte The Pelham High baseball team continued its late season slide on
Wednesday, May 11, when they went down to defeat at the hands of Hollis-Brookline (H-B) by a score of 4-3. The road loss made the Pythons losers of six of their last seven games, putting them at 5 and 7 on the season and on the outside looking in, with respect to making the cut for post season play. With only four games left in the regular season (as of May 17) Pelham finds themselves bunched with 10 other teams vying for the last four play-off spots. In trying to pick-up a valuable win on the road, which would have aided the Python’s cause by awarding them an extra point in the ratings system,
Pelham sent Billy Cann to the mound. Looking for a repeat of his fine four hitter against this same Cavs team just five days earlier, Coach Matt Stone again gave Cann the starting nod. Although he pitched somewhat effectively for three innings, it was the quiet Python bats that spelled the difference on the day. The H-B pitching tandem of Lavoie/Boxbaum combined to scatter five
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hits over seven innings, blanking the Pythons in five of the innings. Pelham scored a single run in the second and added two more runs in the top of the sixth, but that was as close as they would come as the Cavaliers held on for the single run win. Pelham DH Pat MacLean went two for four on the day, while Bronson, Decarteret and Newton each recorded one hit and drove in one run for the Pythons.
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Resident Priscilla Robidoux, and her son, Richard.
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Head coach Matt Stone’s Pythons square off against Derek Lee and the Jags in a pivotal rematch on Friday, May 20
2011 Electronics / Mercury Collection Event Windham PTA
photo by Chris White
staff photo photo by Marc Ayotte
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