Softball Pre-Season Memo #3                                                         
June 8, 2020

First practice: Monday, June 1
First game: Monday, June 15
Playing dates: 40 games
Scrimmages: 3
Regional Tournament Dates:
Class 1A and 2A: July 13, 15, 17, 20
Class 3A:  July 15, 17, 20
Class 4A and 5A: July 16, 18, 21
State Tournament: July 27-31 in Fort Dodge for all classes

Official tournament ball: Dudley SB 12L RF Y FP — Red stitch (.47 COR)

QuikStats reporting dates: QuikStats will be checked every Tuesday during the regular season.

NEW EXCEPTION: A varsity player who enters the game only as a courtesy runner and serves only in that capacity for the entire game shall not be charged a game played toward the three-game daily limitation. If she enters the game in any other capacity (i.e. pinch hitter, pinch runner, or defensive player), the game counts and she is subject to the three-game daily limit. This exception applies only to the varsity level player and is intentionally narrow in scope. The intent is to allow younger players to fully participate at lower levels and still be available for this limited varsity role without reaching the three-game limit. This exception for the three-game daily limit is new for 2020. 

Thanks to everyone for all of your attention to the new guidance at practice for our players and coaches.  Feedback thus far has been overall positive and that players are adjusting to the new requirements.  As we head into the first week of competition, please review the following updates and reminders on regular season information.

UPDATES
Scrimmages
Intra-squad scrimmages only prior to June 15.  NEW - Schools may now have umpires at intra-squad scrimmages.  Also, it is permissible to have PARENTS ONLY at intra-squad scrimmages if administrators are on-site to monitor and regulate.  The IGHSAU views this as a valuable time for schools to communicate social distancing and hygiene/sanitizing requirements to parents before actual games begin.

Scorebook Signing
Softball umpires will not be signing scorebooks this year.  They will provide crew cards with names for your evaluation.  Please make sure you know the names of your umpires for evaluations.

Return of Game Balls
Game balls should be brought to the dugout by the defensive team (pitcher or player with ball after third out) after each half inning. 

Clarification for foul ball protocol
Out of play foul balls or home run balls which are touched by spectators, fans or non-team personnel, should be returned to the defensive team dugout for sanitizing and drying before returning to play.

Media Presence at Practices - Clarification
Only essential personnel (coaches, athletes, trainers) may be on the field of play during practice.  This does not prevent media from interviewing and/or filming from outside the field of play.  Parking lots, lead up walkways, etc. are areas that could be used.  We encourage continued positive relationships with local media and encourage coaches to make themselves and/or players available for interviews before or after practice and to allow the media to work at practices from appropriate areas.

Players Touching Masks
Please note that umpires have been instructed to have players who touch the mouth area of their face mask to sanitize hands before touching the ball.  Touching other areas of the safety mask to straighten or adjust is permissible. 

Use of towels by Pitchers
By rule, a pitcher is allowed to have a towel hanging from the back of her uniform pants to wipe her hand off—as long as in the umpire’s judgement is it not distracting (too long and flaps around, for example).  We would urge some caution for use of the towel as a drying agent for the pitcher's hands. A pitcher who touches her mouth and uses the towel to dry her hand could re-introduce droplets on towel after each use of the towel.  If this occurs, the umpire will call “dead ball” and the towel will be removed from the game, the ball replaced, and the pitcher shall sanitize her hands. It will be considered a “no pitch."  Powdered rosin and Gorilla Gold are allowed by NFHS rule to dry the pitcher's hands. We recommend each pitcher handle their own drying agent. 

On-site Administrator
On-site administrators and/or site managers are required for all home contests.  Please designate an adult for each location if hosting a baseball/softball doubleheader.  If AD is responsible for both baseball and softball at one site, he/she should designate another qualified adult (not the head coach) as a designee in case he/she is unavailable. Umpires have been advised that they should not begin games unless the designated site supervisor/administrator is present and identified to them.

Communication with Umpires
Schools are reminded to clarify with umpires the expectations of their site related to face coverings, temperature checks, etc.  Umpires should not arrive on-site without prior communication from the host school.  Umpires testing positive have been instructed to contact the school which issued the contract to report the result.  Likewise, any host school should contact the umpires when a positive test or notification of teams if recommended by Public Health.

Senior Nights – New Information
Senior Night introductions may be conducted on the field of play with these guidelines:

  • The visiting team is notified prior to the day of the game.
  • The visiting team and umpires are not on the field of play (nor all visiting team in the dugouts) during the introduction of seniors and parents. Please have visiting team spread out in areas appropriate to your facility if they wish to watch the senior recognition.
  • All other guidelines (e.g. face coverings required or not) for spectators are followed.
  • All IDPH and CDC guidance for distancing and gatherings is followed.
  • No non-family physical contact (shaking hands, hugs, etc.)
  • Keep the introductions short (less than 10 minutes is recommended)

Team Meals
The Department of Education has approved the use of summer school lunch meals for softball and baseball teams. Your school must meet the SFSP eligibility criteria by having >50% free and reduced meal percentage and have submitted an approved application to provide Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Grab & Go meals. The meals can be provided as a "field trip," under one of their approved open meal sites, for the students participating in baseball & softball games and practices. The school nutrition director will need to identify the field trip in the school district's SFSP application packet of the Bureau's online data system. In addition, the school food service staff or coach will need to collect a point of service count with the distribution of meals at the ball fields. The meals provided must meet the meal pattern and be documented if different from the general meal site. The school nutrition director is welcome to contact the DE to discuss these implementation details.   Please note that not every school district may have this option available. It would depend on whether the location is a qualifying meal site based on the USDA SFSP criteria. Schools would just need to reach out to Stephanie Dross at the DE to determine if they are eligible for this type of meal service. 

Hosting Contracts
IGHSAU hosting contracts will be available for the 2020 softball regionals next week. There is new language included in this year's contracts regarding the new guidelines on social distancing, hygiene and sanitizing.  Please review.  If you wish to host for ANY SPORT in 2020-21, only one contract needs to be returned with the appropriate sport marked.

Reminders

Lightning and Weather Delays
Take a few minutes to visit with school site administrators regarding lightning and weather delays.  We have had several issues regarding how the decision to delay is made.  PRIOR to the start of any game, the host school administration is responsible for monitoring weather.  Once the game is in progress, the umpires are responsible for delaying due to thunder and/or lightning.  If thunder is heard or sky to ground lightning is observed, CLEAR THE FIELD and follow your school' s inclement weather plan for teams, fans and workers.  A 30-minute delay is mandatory after each lightning strike.  During this delay, take time to gather more information via websites and the National Weather Service.  Software is available that helps indicate the distance of the lightning strike and movement of the storm.

The IGHSAU guidelines are posted here:  Hazardous Weather Guidelines | Lightning Guidelines

Field Markings
Please be advised of the proper field markings, including the media box and the on-deck circle. A media box is required to be lined in foul territory down the third base line for all regional contests. An additional media box down the first base line is recommended. The minimum dimensions of these boxes shall be 5 feet wide by 3 feet deep. Only ONE official media photographers/videographers may occupy the media box at a time this year due to social distancing guidelines.

The on-deck circle must be in a safe location to the side and away from home, or 30' if space allows.  It should measure 5'.  See figure 1-1 on page 8 of the NFHS Rules Book.

Batters boxes of various sizes have been reported in the past by our umpires.  Please refer to the diagram in figure 1-1 in the NFHS Rule Book.  If the umpire requests to have the boxes re-drawn because they are incorrect, please advise your field crews to comply with the umpire's instruction.

Official Games
Games may not be shortened even if by mutual agreement of coaches.  By rule, the home team must be ahead after 4 ½ innings or the visitor after 5 full innings.  IGHSAU margin-of-runs rules are as follows: a 12-run differential after 3 or 4 innings (2.5 or 3.5 innings if the home team is leading by 12 or more runs) and a 10-run differential rule after 5 or 6 innings (4.5 or 5.5 innings if the home team is leading by 10 or more runs).  If a time limit is placed on games during the tournament and the game is not official, then tournament procedures should include completion of the game.  If weather could be an issue, please consider playing the varsity game first so that it will not be shortened.

Intentional Walks
The NFHS rule regarding intentional walks is being followed by the IGHSAU and there is NOT an Iowa adaptation requiring that pitches be thrown.

Preliminary Classifications
Please check your school's preliminary classification on the IGHSAU website.  Report any discrepancy to Jason Eslinger at the IGHSAU immediately.  FINAL CLASSIFICATIONS will be posted the week of June 15. The preliminary classifications can be viewed by clicking here

QuikStats
The QuikStats website has been revamped. There are a lot of new features on the site and we recommend you look at some of the archived past seasons to get a feel for the new look. We think you will like some of the new changes.

QuikStats will be checked every Tuesday during the softball season. Schedules and rosters must be updated by June 15.  All statistical categories in QuikStats must be filled out. For those looking for guidance in keeping softball statistics, the NCAA provides an excellent resource that can be downloaded by clicking here. If you have any questions regarding scoring decisions, earned runs, etc., please contact Jason Eslinger at jasoneslinger@ighsau.org.

iScore and QuikStats
Many of you have asked if there is a scorekeeping app that can load game statistics directly into QuikStats. The free iScore App (available in both the Apple and Google Play app stores) will you’re your softball statistics directly into QuikStats. For the schools that subscribe to Varsity Bound, the iScore module is free. If you are interested in getting the iScore module, contact Todd Lawler at Varsity Bound (todd@varsitybound.com) for more information.

Tell Your Fans About the Varsity Bound App
We strongly recommend that your fans download the free Varsity Bound App (available in both the Apple and Google Play app stores). The Varsity Bound app can serve as your school’s digital “program” for each game, taking the place of the printed game program. Rosters and statistics for each school are in the app, along with a game preview and driving directions to every softball field in the state.

Contact Information

Softball Administrator:           Jean Berger               515-401-1832       jeanberger@ighsau.org

Officials/Rules:                       Cathy Creighton         563-940-0164       cathy@ighsau.org

Eligibility:                                  Gary Ross                   515-401-1842       gross@ighsau.org

QuikStats:                                Jason Eslinger            515-401-1836       jasoneslinger@ighsau.org

Rule Books/Scorecards:        Monte Wilson             515-401-1837       monte@ighsau.org

R School:                                  Sherry Tegtmeier       515-401-1839       sherry@ighsau.org

IGHSAU Toll Free Number   888-985-6547