Knowing the run rule

BY JACK ROSSI | APRIL 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa softball’s series finale against Nebraska ended after five innings last weekend. An 18-0 hole forced the umpires to call the game early.

A lesser-known rule in college sports, the mercy rule or run rule as it has been more commonly referred to, has been around for a long time with the idea of keeping younger players from becoming too discouraged.

The run rule is a rare occurrence for sports past high school because of increased skill level of the athletes, but the players are used to the rule, having played with it their whole career.

“I’ve played with it my whole life,” Hawkeye Erin Erickson said. “It’s really just a standard rule that if a team scores 8 runs after five innings, then the game is discontinued.”

The Hawkeyes have become a little too familiar with the rule this year. Iowa has been involved in seven run-rule decisions so far in 33 games and are 2-5 in those contests, including two games last weekend against Nebraska.

“It doesn’t feel good, but you just have to bounce back from it and work harder,” said outfielder Brianna Luna. “You have to pick yourself back up and get after it the next game.”

The rule was first adopted by the International Softball Federation, but the thought of erasing the rule all together in softball has been mentioned.

“In the rules committee, we’ve talked about eliminating it because our game is one that you can score a lot of runs really quickly,” Iowa head coach Marla Looper said. “Whether it’s talent level or the equipment that is manufactured. So a team that is lesser still could come back.”

While getting rid of the rule is something that going to be difficult, Looper noted that the game has evolved a lot since the rule was implemented.

“The game has just changed; that 8-run rule has been in effect for a lot of years, and the game has changed through those years,” she said.

The fields are smaller and balls are livelier, making scoring runs more frequent.

“Unfortunately, there have been times that I have seen teams come back, and we have scored more than 8 runs in an inning,” Erickson said.

The Hawks will try to get back on track in a double-header against Missouri, another offensively potent team, today at Pearl Field.

The Tigers come into the matchup with a 32-10 record and are riding a six-game winning streak. The Hawks last saw Missouri on Feb. 14, when they took the game to extra innings but couldn’t hold on. The team ended up losing the game, 2-1, in eight innings.

“We were in the game then,” Looper said. “They are going to be a different club, and we are going to be a different club. I feel we have a good chance of staying in the ball game and have a chance to win. We are within centimeters of taking advantage of these opportunities. We just need to grasp and hold on.”

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