Apr 26, 2017Face Mask Debate Reignited
At Union County (Ky.) High School, senior pitcher Evyn Hendrickson was hit in the face by a line drive during a game, which required her to go to the hospital. The injury has led to coaches and officials discussing the mandatory wearing of face masks for pitchers and infielders.
The NFHS does not require softball players to wear the mask, but some coaches are taking matters into their own hands. According to an article from 14 News (Ind.) by Reporter Shaelie Clark, Apollo (Ky.) High School Head Softball Coach Stephen Julian is requiring all of his pitchers to wear a mask. Many other players on his team already wear the equipment.
“It’s not doubting their skill level or anything like that,” said Julian. “It’s just an extra element of precaution in case they can’t react to that certain ball hit right back at them. You know, potentially keep them safe.”
Some other coaches across the country are doing the same. As reported in the Williamson (Tenn.) Herald , Erica Powell has been coaching softball at Brentwood (Tenn.) High School for 14 years. After hearing multiple stories of pitchers being badly injured, she decided this year to begin requiring her pitchers to wear a mask. She also encourages her infielders to do the same.
Powell saw the positive impact of this action early in the team’s season. On the second day of implementing the face mask requirement, the Lady Bruins were having a live batting practice when junior Kayla Mills was hit in the face.
“The ball was hit hard enough to slide her face mask to the side. She stood there stunned for a second, and I ran out to check on her,” said Powell. “I took her mask off and walked her off the field and called the [athletic] trainer. When he got there, he looked at her face and said, ‘Thank God you had that mask on. That ball would have broken your face.’
A problem with mandating face masks is that there is not one that has been certified