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Expanded designated hitter role coming to high school baseball in 2020

High school baseball coaches will have an additional option in the use of a designated hitter for the 2020 season under a rule revision to Rule 3-1-4 approved by the National Federation of State High School Assns.

There are now two scenarios in which a designated hitter may be used.

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The first scenario is the traditional one, where the designated hitter may be a 10th starter who hits for any one of the nine starting defensive players.

The new, second scenario allows the starting designated hitter to also be a starting defensive player. When using that option, the player has two positions: defensive player and designated hitter. The team would begin with nine starters, one of whom also assumes the role of designated hitter.

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“With the change adding pitch-count restrictions to high school baseball, this will allow pitchers to remain in the game as a hitter while removing them from pitching,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services. “Typically, pitchers are stronger hitters as well. However, the intent of the rule is not for it to become strictly a pitcher-designated hitter role. The rule provides additional avenues for other position players as well. The change allows coaches to strategize how to keep players in the game to contribute offensively while allowing another player a chance to participate on defense.”

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