Softball pitcher's circle may be moved 3 feet back for 2010-11


POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

The distance of the softball pitcher's circle to home plate was among items for discussion yesterday at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board meeting.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has already approved the change from 40 feet to 43, though the change will not be mandatory until the 2010-11 season. HHSAA board members discussed the possibility of making a change within Hawaii for the upcoming spring season, but decided against an early move.

The NFHS noted that the change in distance would give defenses more action, and batters would benefit, as well.

The softball discussion was one of several in a relatively light slate for the board.

In response to a complaint on the Big Island about teams allegedly extending their practice times, the board decided to form a committee to study the matter.

“;For years, we talked about it at (Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors meetings), but nothing came about it,”; Oahu Interscholastic Association executive director Dwight Toyama said.

Interscholastic League of Honolulu executive director Don Botelho supported more study.

“;The NCAA has rules about this. We need to address this, too,”; he said.

On Kauai, there is a plan to combine boys soccer players from Island School and Olelo Christian Academy for a “;Pac-Two”; combination team, according to Kauai Interscholastic Federation executive secretary Diane Nitta. To become eligible for a state championship, the new team will need approval from the HHSAA in similar fashion to the Pac-Five boys soccer program that got the OK from the board a few years ago.

Discussion about two situations involving independent schools on the Big Island also went into depth.

Big Island Interscholastic Federation executive director Lyle Crozier sought input from the board, including longtime administrator Meredith Maeda. A question about a Konawaena football player had been raised by Kealakehe. The student-athlete attends a Hawaiian immersion school — Ke Kula 'O 'Ehunuikaimalino — located on Konawaena's campus, but resides in Kealakehe's district.

Kealakehe wants to see precedence in writing that would legitimize the student-athlete's participation in Konawaena athletics. Maeda advised the BIIF to stay put since student-athletes from the immersion school have participated with Konawaena for five years.

“;Based on past practice, look at where the school is located. Don't change it,”; Maeda said, noting a similarity with Anuenue School of the OIA.

“;(Anuenue) kids play for Anuenue even if they live elsewhere,”; he added. “;This shouldn't be about the quality of the athletes.”;

There's also precedence in the BIIF going back nearly a decade ago. The Hilo boys basketball team won a state championship and one of its players, Napela Naniole, was a student at an immersion school in Hilo's district.

Neither immersion school has its own athletics program.

A charter school on the east side of the Big Island, Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science, is in another scenario. The school is based in Pahoa, but two years ago began an online program out of Kurtistown that hosts 39 students. HAAS has asked the BIIF to permit its student-athletes to participate in sports at Keaau High School, which includes Kurtistown in its district, rather than Pahoa High School.

“;If their charter does not say they're a virtual school, they are still a charter school,”; Maeda said.

Toyama said he had heard from a parent who wants to send a child to Keaau's soccer program.

“;It still goes back to the league,”; Toyama said.

HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya encouraged board members and athletic directors to participate in next week's Murphy's Bar and Grill Hoolaulea. Owner Don Murphy, a prolific fundraiser for UH athletics, will host the event on Wednesday with a goal of raising funds for the HHSAA SOS campaign.

Some of the featured menu items will include dishes made by athletic directors, including Kahuku's Joe Whitford (lau lau).

“;Don wants to attract 2,000 to 3,000 people,”; Amemiya said.

The Food Network, which will be in town to do a story on Murphy's, will also cover the SOS Hoolaulea.

Amemiya also noted that OIA schools have been active in community service and will participate in “;Make a Difference Day”; on Oct. 24. Student-athletes will help clean beaches as an offering of thanks to the public for their support in the HHSAA SOS campaign.