MSHSL changes length of baseball, softball games for uncooperative spring weather

In the face of uncooperative spring weather, the Minnesota State High School League is modifying the rules of certain sports to allow schools to increase the chances of completing as many games as they can in a condensed season. 

High school baseball and softball seasons started in late March, but cold temperatures and poor filed conditions have forced many games to be postponed or canceled. At an emergency meeting Wednesday morning, MSHSL officials agreed to allow schools to play two five-inning games in a doubleheader format to make up for missed games. 

"I’ve done this for 14 years, and this one is the worst for sure," said Ron Erpenbach, Norwood Young America activities director. "I think as of now we’ll probably try to hold to the seven inning double headers, but if we lose another week to ten days and we have to get 20 or 18 games into a three week window I could see us going to five inning games."

Doubleheaders may also be played with the first game lasting seven innings and the second lasting five games or until a “regulation game” is completed, according to a memo. Single games will still be played for seven innings or until a “regulation game” is completed. 

“The doesn't become an asterisk year because a five inning game still counts as a full game by regulation rules and so it becomes a season where you might have a few less innings played but the goal is to still try and get as many games in as we can,” MSHSL Executive Director Erich Marten said. 

Both participating schools must mutually agree to change the length of the games.

Due to a limited supply of officials this spring, schools can also use fewer officials for a game if they obtain a waiver from the MSHSL. 

But with the incoming snow and cold predicted, Erpenbach fears the district will still have to cancel the games - possibly 30-40 percent of them.

"Especially for our seniors, this is difficult. Some of our kids, this is their favorite sport. And their last year of playing so for our kids who really love spring sports, this has been a depressing time... we’ve been in the gym for five weeks practicing baseball and softball," he said.