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Softball adding instant replay at home games

Jeff Babl, center, and his team run a LoperVision broadcast at a UNK basketball game. Babl helps run the replay system for football, basketball and now adds softball to the list. Photo by Traeton Harimon / Antelope Staff

Missed calls from umpires happen at any level of softball. Now, some select MIAA games will have instant replay.

UNK home softball games will be part of the MIAA’s pilot plan to implement instant replay for the upcoming softball season. The Lopers were selected alongside Central Oklahoma and Rogers State to test softball instant replay. Central Missouri, Missouri Western, and Pittsburg State will test instant replay for baseball.

“From an officiating standpoint, this will allow the league’s umpire staff further resources to make sure we are getting calls correct and allow officials to progress their games in a new skill set,” said Austin Mezzacasa, MIAA supervisor of softball umpires in a January press release.

The league will implement the SkyCoach Instant Replay system for baseball and softball instant replay. The league has already used the software the past two seasons for football. For Jeff Babl, video production coordinator for UNK Athletics, has worked extensively with the software. He’s been in charge of instant replay for Loper football games the past two years.

“It’ll be the same football equipment,” Babl said. “Every conference school that has football has SkyCoach equipment already, so it’d be no different.”

There will be three angles implemented for the season, with angles at home plate, down the second and third baseline, and down the first and second baseline. Those three angles will be consistent for all schools using the instant replay software.

Data from this year will be collected, and it will be used in decisions by MIAA coaches and administration this summer for full implementation at all campuses. This would require non-football schools, such as Newman and future member Arkansas Fort-Smith, to invest in the software. Non-football member Rogers State is one of the schools piloting softball replay.

“As of about a week and a half ago, They are supposed to be getting their equipment in,” Babl said.  “A lot of it’s supposed to be getting tested here at scrimmages and or non conference games, and so we’re going to try to implement ours during our first non con game.”

The MIAA was the first D2 conference to implement instant replay for football last year. It is also the first known DII conference to also implement instant replay for both baseball and softball. Other leagues have followed suit. This year, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference added football instant replay for member schools, using SkyCoach.

Babl expects to test the equipment during non-conference action when the University of Mary takes on UNK at Patriot Park on March 13-14.

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Alex Hammake
Alex Hammake, Reporter
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