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Discussion: Screen to protect the pitcher

Posted Discussion
March 14, 2008
Men's 65
22 posts
Screen to protect the pitcher
Our senior recreational league here in Arizona is going to a screen for the pitcher. This will be just for the summer. This is when we experiment with new rules. So if there are any senior leagues out there using the screen I need to know the ground rules for the screen. Ya know what happens if a batted ball hits the screen; what about a throw from the outfield to home plate to retire a runner. If the thrown ball hits the screen what is the ruling??? You can email me or use this forum to reply.

Ken Skinner
Sun Cities Senior Softball League
March 14, 2008
Men's 55
394 posts

We have used the screen only in scrimmage. What makes sense to us is batted ball hitting the screen is a dead ball do-over, no penalty for batter or defense. Hitting the screen on a throw has not come up. As an umpire, player and rule writer, I would suggest that because the screen is there for the benefit of the defense that a throw should be live. I would expect the pitcher to be nearby as a cutoff AND have a feel for where the screen. When a throw is headed for the screen the pitcher should cut it, as he would for an off-line throw.

Are you planning to make the screen mandatory or optional? Please let the community know how the experiment goes! Thanks. Shane V
March 16, 2008
Gary Heifner
248 posts
Your comment about using a screen is interesting. However, I hope it never is used in regular senior softball. It would provide "total" safety for pitchers and we wouldn't want that. It would also take away about 1/2 the post talk on this site and it would eventually cause the site to fold!
March 17, 2008
Men's 50
55 posts
We had the situation that came up due to an early morning game with the sun directly in the pitcher's eyes creating even more of a safety issue. Both teams were in favor of using the screen. As a condition of using it the decision was made that a batted ball hitting the screen would be a dead ball out. The idea is to protect the pitcher in a situation where he is for all intents almost helpless, therefore there should be a penalty. Thrown balls hitting the screen would be treated as live balls. There was not disagreement and, so far as we could tell, the use of the screen did not materially affect that game. I did have a number of hitters after the game tell me that they liked putting that ocndition on the use of the screen. It is our opinion that the screen should only be used in conditions that require some extra protection for the pitcher.

Boss Bandit
March 17, 2008
208 posts
I say he boycott screen maker. (ha ha) Actually I believe that under adverse conditions with sun and were safety is the paramount issue, a screen should be used provided both teams agree. Also the screen should be one of the small portable ones. The baseball screen has that low portion that takes up a lot of extra field space. Pitchers want to be part of the game however they don't want to be eating leather that they can't see coming at them. But it should not be a part of the usual game
March 17, 2008
Men's 60
224 posts
I was in a league that used the pitcher screen. Was about 6' tall and about 3' wide. A batted ball hitting the screen was simply a foul ball, and an out if the batter already had two strikes, just like any other foul ball in that situation. If the ball hit the screen by the defense, it was treated just like hitting a base or an umpire. It was live and that was it. Was a pretty good way to handle it and still give the pitcher the option to protect himself if he wanted. The screen was optional for both teams, and wasn't always used by both teams in some games. It worked well for us.
March 17, 2008
Men's 70
267 posts
Using a protective screen during the course of the game does conjure up other interesting questions on itís use and overall viability for being a solution to pitcher safety. Obviously using the protective pitcherís screen during bp is a no-brainer; but during the course of a live game it can get in the way of the real action for sure.

I would suggest the following:

1. If the batter hits the screen (3) times in a particular at-bat then heís OUT. Just like three strikes and youíre OUTÖsame kind of critical thinking. So for example, if a batter has two strikes on him then either a batter ball into foul territory or his third batted ball in the pitchers safety screen would result in the batter being retired for that time at-bat only and heís free to bat again in the game with no penalty.

2. I would think that if the clock is running in the game then the umpire should stop the clock after each batted ball into the screen and restarted with the ump raises his hand for the play to commence again as without this rule valuable actual playing time could be squandered.

3. As far as the screen becoming an obstacle during live ball action, I would recommend SSUSA hire off-duty tennis ball-boys and girls for that matter, who would be hunkered down in the dugout door and when the ball is hit to the outfield they quickly run out and grab the screen and drag it into foul territory and then replace it when the umpire calls TIME!

4. The ball-guys would be paid minimum wage only to keep the tournament costs down. However here in Washington State we have the highest minimum wage pay of any of the 50 states so that may be an unfair cost burden to our Evergreen State!

Bashbro1 (Ruth 60ís Super Major Plus playing out of Kent, WA home of the Russell Road Softball Complex host of the SSUSA Worlds in 2006!)
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