(Image is of St. John the Baptist pitcher Erin Caputo)
Moving the CHSAA softball circle back three feet has gone a long way.
Before the 2010 season, the pitching circle was moved from 40 to 43 feet, the standard distance for college circles.
“For pitchers who want to play on the next level, this is the best move,” St. John the Baptist coach Brianne Herr said. “That transition for a freshman softball pitcher in college is huge, to make the adjustment from 40 feet to 43 feet is very difficult, so we’re really helping them by moving it back.”
The additional 36 inches tends to slow down some fastball pitchers but benefit the break of hurlers who specialize in off-speed stuff.
“It gives them a little more space to work on spins,” Herr said, adding that the move has led to increased offense throughout the league.
While there was initially some trepidation towards the move, the presence of travel teams that already had their circles at 43 feet made the transition easier.
“I think for the most part, any player who plays more than just the softball season for their school teams has adjusted, because many of their summer teams do that,” said Herr, referencing SJB starter Erin Caputo. Caputo has played for the LI Express for three seasons and has a 4-2 record and two shutouts this year with St. John the Baptist. “But even pitchers that haven’t played for a travel team have also made the adjustment.”
While Section VIII and XI remain at 40 feet for now, any non-league games between a CHSAA school and public school will abide by the ground rules of the home team.
UPDATE 7:30 P.M.: Just talked to St. Anthony’s coach Mike Massa for his take:
“The pitching isn’t quite as overpowering, the hitters get a bit longer look, but I don’t think anything has changed hugely,” he said. “The strong pitchers are still able to do pretty well.”
That’s certainly true of Michelle Carbone, the Friars’ freshman ace who’s led the team to a 10-1 record, 9-0 in CHSAA. She struck out 10 hitters in her varsity debut and threw a no-hitter in her second game. St. Anthony’s has thrown seven shutouts this season.
Talent, Massa said, can eliminate the three-foot difference.
“If you had Olivia Galati throwing from 43, it wouldn’t have made a difference.”