The international tiebreaker rule for softball, which was instituted this season by the National Federation of State High Schools, has not been popular with area coaches.
In fact, they are out to have it rescinded if they can. District 1 coaches recently voted to take the issue to the PIAA softball steering committee. They plan to ask the steering committee to petition the PIAA board of control to exempt member schools from using it.
Under the rule, if a game is tied at the end of nine innings, the visiting team puts a runner on second base to start the 10th inning. The home team does the same thing in its half of the 10th inning. Play continues until a winner is determined.
The rule was designed primarily for weekend tournament use because limited playing is often a factor.
"We're going to ask that the rule be rescinded," said Hope Donnell, Upper Dublin athletic director and member of the District 1 softball committee.
"Apparently the coaches unanimously agreed that it's not right that the rule applies to softball but not to baseball," added Bob Ruoff, executive secretary of District 1.
Donnell, a traditionalist, said the game should be played to its conclusion without the runner on second base even if that leads to a particularly long game.
Neshaminy coach Kathleen Houser has experienced a number of long games in her career, but she opposes the tiebreaker rule. In 2003, her team played a 17-inning game with arch-rival Pennsbury and a 24-inning game with Council Rock North that was played over two days.
"I know the rule was put in to speed up the game, but I don't like it," she said. "I don't like penalty kicks in soccer or strokes in field hockey, either."
Abington coach Ellie White was equally adamant in her opposition to the rule.
"I don't want any gimmies [the runner on second]," she said.
The PIAA would have the final say if the state softball committee, made up of athletic directors and coaches from around the state, agrees to pass the local petition on.
Although the subject of moving the pitching rubber back did not come up at the District 1 meeting, Donnell said it's bound to at some point.
It's being suggested by some coaches that the distance from the plate to the rubber for girls' softball be moved back five or six feet from 40 feet. The feeling is that in a game dominated by pitchers who can throw upward of 60 m.p.h., the batters need to be given a greater opportunity to hit the ball."