Pitching Controversy Follows Softball

Published by Brian A. Campos on April 03, 2010 at 3:10AM

Inconsistent umpiring has caused controversy in NCAA softball this season.

When you think about softball, controversy is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. But this season, a new trend in officiating is drawing attention from players, coaches, and writers all over the country.

“Crow hopping” is a term often used to describe an illegal motion by the pitcher while she is throwing the ball. Some pitchers separate their foot from the rubber and move forwards as they’re throwing—against the official rule, which states that she must have her foot on the mound in order for the pitch to count. If the pitcher fails to adhere to the rule, the batter is awarded a ball, and any baserunners are advanced one base.

Harvard pitchers have been plagued with these calls this season, and some resulted in runs scored for the opposing teams. Against Boston University on March 25th, co-captain pitcher Margaux Black was called for six illegal pitches before being taken out for sophomore Julia Moore. Right away, Moore was also called for the same technicality, resulting in another run scored. BU lit up the Crimson in the first inning, scoring 11 runs—but not without help from the umpire.

Sophomore Rachel Brown, after pitching against Fairfield last weekend, shared some of her thoughts on the new trend of calling illegal pitches:

“The illegal pitch controversy is new this season. Basically, it’s just frustrating and unpredictable. The umpires are so inconsistent when they call it. We have a good pitching rotation, and we won’t let the umpires determine what we do.”

“What they’re calling me for is little technical violations of the rule. Before, the golden rule was that unless it gave pitchers a huge advantage, they wouldn’t call it. On TV, it seemed like some pitchers were really illegal in their pitching mechanics, so my guess is that this caused the umpires being firmer with the calls.”