Softball

Black Eye Playing College Softball and the Facemask Debate

May 8, 2019

A few weeks ago, I was hit in the face with a ball while we were at Utah. I had a gnarly black eye for a week or so.

This comes to the debate of facemask vs. no facemask while batting at the college level. The game has certainly changed over the years with the color of the ball and the distance being altered. Softball shifted from an extremely dominant pitcher’s game to more of a hitter’s game. 

Facemasks are a precaution applied paternalistically to all young girls playing softball. It provides (for the most part) protection of the face; I still have seen freak accident exceptions. In college, the rules change, and these young women are able to remove the mask knowing the risks. Reasons some choose to take off their facemasks range from them being bulky, heavy, and blocking eyesight.

My next question is targeted towards whether young girls are taught to turn their back when pitches are coming at them. It becomes second nature as you get older, it is also partially human instinct. In my specific case, I’m glad I was able to turn fast enough, or my black eye could have turned into something else more severe. Some people are not as lucky, but I knew the risk when I took off the mask three years ago.  

I do believe that the rise of elbow guards, especially bulky ones, have caused girls to go into pitches rather than trying to get out of the way. I was guilty of this when I was younger, but it hurts to get hit by pitches and umpires are starting to call back girls who are over the plate/out of the box.  

Wearing a facemask in college is your personal choice as long as you understand the risks. Do whatever feels most comfortable for you, but practice moving out of the way of pitches and turning your back, it could save your face in the long run. 

Have you ever had any sports injuries? Tell me about them in the comments below!