MOUNT VERNON — Three feet.
In a game of inches like softball and baseball, that distance can change the whole complexion of the game.
Until this year, a girls high school softball team’s prospects might turn on the whirling arm of a single, dominant starting pitcher. A school that could find a girl with an exploding fastball and a mesmerizing changeup, might have a shot at the state title. When they moved the pitcher back 3 feet in 2011, it turned the sport on its ear.
High school softball, once known for intense pitching duels, has become a regular slugfest. In fact, the only thing holding down the run total this year has been the rain.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association fell into compliance when the new pitching distance revision was made by the National Federation of State High School Associations for 2011. Moving the pitching rubber back from 40 to 43 feet from home plate means high school pitchers around the country are throwing the ball just as far as their college counterparts.