The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee met last week in Indianapolis to set protocols for in-season bat testing that will take place in Division I during the 2020 season. 

Committee members proposed mandating in-season bat testing in 2017, and the rule was approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel with delayed implementation due to the cost of about $1,500 for purchasing the necessary equipment. The rule will go into effect in Division I next season and in Divisions II and III for the 2021 season.

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Bat testing should be conducted before a team’s first game of a series, single games, the first game of a doubleheader and before the first game of a series where multiple games are played between several teams. 

The location for barrel testing will be determined by the host and will be communicated to
participating schools no less than 24 hours before the scheduled start of competition. Testing
should occur following each team’s practice time or at an agreed-upon time by the participating schools or the conference. Procedures are as follows:

  • Testing should be conducted with representatives from both teams present.
  • Coaches or a team designee will bring all bats to the testing location.
  • Testing should not be conducted in public view or near fans or members of the media. 

Part of the testing procedure is the visual inspection of the bat. This will be done to ensure the bat is on the approved NCAA model list and does not have a predominantly white barrel, flat spots, an audible rattle or cracked or loose end caps or attachments.

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Bat testing consists of two parts. The first part, a ring test, is conducted to verify the maximum diameter and that the barrel is not misshapen. The procedure should be: 

  • Place the bat end cap on the ground and place the bat ring over the knob, letting it fall.
  • If the ring passes over the bat from gravity alone (without force), the diameter passes.
  • If the bat passes through the ring, it proceeds to barrel compression testing.
  • If the ring does not pass over the bat, the bat is unacceptable for play and is surrendered for the duration of the game/series.

Barrel compression testing procedures are as follows: 

  • Each bat will be tested approximately 6 inches from the end of the barrel. The bat then will be rotated 90 degrees and tested again.
  • Bats will be tested a maximum of three times, until they receive two passing results or two failing results, whichever comes first.
  • If after two tests:

a. The bat has two passing results, the bat will be considered approved for competition.
b. The bat has one passing result and one failing result, the bat will be removed from the machine and be visually inspected for cracks. If no cracks are found, the bat will be tested a third time.
c. The bat has two failing results, the bat will be considered unacceptable for play and surrendered for the duration of the game/series.

  • Bats passing both tests should be identified as approved with a tamper-proof sticker at the area at the bottom of the barrel just above the handle. 

20-second action rule

Committee members recommended a 20-second action rule be enforced before all pitches in the 2019-20 academic year. 

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss baseball rules recommendations via conference call Aug. 14. 

It will be optional for a school to have visible clocks to keep the time between pitches. If no visible clock is used, one of the base umpires will keep the 20-second time limit on the field. 

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If the pitcher is at fault for violating the 20-second action rule, a ball will be awarded in the count. If the hitter violates the 20-second action rule, a strike will be awarded in the count.

“The committee believes pace of play of the game is a big issue,” said Jim Carone, committee chair and coach at Wagner. “As we get later in ballgames, things seem to take a little longer, and the game slows down. We felt it is important that we have action every 20 seconds to keep the game flowing.”

The committee also recommended that all chest protectors used in competition for the 2019-20 academic year be models that are approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards of Athletics Equipment. 

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