More proof that the state's talent level in softball continues to rise came recently with the final Gold Fastpitch final national rankings.
Nebraska Gold — which featured a number of the state's best players who had a successful debut at the Gold nationals in August — finished the season ranked No. 14. Nebraska Gold went 5-4-1 against Top 20 teams.
Among the Nebraska Gold players who are high school seniors are returning All-Nebraska players Gina Metzler of Papillion-La Vista, Madi Unzicker of Millard South and Kaylan Jablonski of Omaha Skutt — all University of Nebraska recruits.
Stanford recruit Lauren Wegner of Omaha Central is scheduled to play again for the Gold in 2014, along with Creighton recruit Hayleigh Evans of Papillion-La Vista and South Dakota recruit Christy Warnock of Millard North.
Pitching rule neglected
A disturbing trend is beginning to reappear in pitching circles — leaping and replanting before the ball leaves the pitcher's hand.
Even more disturbing is that the rules aren't being enforced by umpiring crews. All the games I've seen, it hasn't been called once though there have been ample chances to do so.
Ron Osborn has championed this cause for decades and said at this point it's just basic enforcement — or lack thereof — of the rules. Osborn sees more games than most fans and has been an advocate and participant in fast-pitch circles for decades.
In a letter to the Nebraska School Activities Association saying the rule is being ignored, Osborn said his concern is both for the pitchers doing things correctly and those who aren't.
“You do these kids no favor by allowing them to cheat the rules in (high school),” Osborn wrote. “They either are not recruitable because they can't throw a legal pitch if they had to, or you are setting them up for failure when they get there (to college).”
Osborn noted that the rules are being enforced at the national level in the spring and summer and in college softball.
“By ignoring a rule that favors (those not pitching properly), you take from the kids that follow the rules,” Osborn wrote.
He hopes umpires will be given further instruction or asked to enforce what they should already know.