Let me add my congratulations to both the Dunn girls softball teams who took part and won the Dixie Youth World Series in Alexandria, La., last week.
Now, let me step up on my soapbox and rip into the coaches of the Latta, S.C., All-Stars team that was childish in the way they got a championship trophy for their team.
Let me preface my comments by letting you know I have coached travel softball, travel baseball, league softball and baseball and have umpired at the league, travel, high school and even junior college level of softball. And just for reference, my first job was being an official scorer for league games back home in Indiana.
Before I became a news reporter, I was a sports writer, so with that in mind let me get out my chainsaw and get to it.
Dunn Ponytails coach Jeremy Bass is to be commended on the restraint and sportsmanship he showed while his team was being, pardon my phrasing, handed what I am calling “The Alexandria Softball Screw Job.”
I think by now everyone familiar with the situation knows the Ponytails World Series final game was forced to be forfeited because of a little-used, little-known rule about substitutions. He didn’t play one player for six outs so the scorekeeper, who has no place let alone no obligation, to inform a coach of a substitution error — did just that. It is the role of the scorer, just as it is the role of the umpire, to not point out technicalities unless and only unless one of the coaches brings up the error. Then and only then are they required to provide the information.
With that said, I lay the blame upon the coaches of the Latta, S.C., team. Coaches who realized they could not win the game unless they resorted to other tactics. Instead of telling the officials at the tournament they did not want to bring the issue up and use it as a way to get what should be politely described as a “cheap and sorry” way to win a game.
The purpose of a tournament is to see who wins on the field, not see who can find a rule to use against the other team when losing is staring them in the face.
It is not the role of the coach to seek out ways to stick it to the other team. It is their job to be above board and show the ultimate in sportsmanship, courtesy and fair competition.
What the coaches from Latta did is anything but that. It shows a lack of any of those qualities.
Instead they should be hanging their heads low, wondering why they did such a dastardly thing to a bunch of 11- and 12-year-old girls.
If I could speak to the coach face to face, I would only ask him one question, “If the roles were reversed, would you really accept the situation?”
If he would be honest, he knows he would raise as big a stink about it as I am now.
In closing, I want to say it was probably a good thing I wasn’t coaching the Dunn girls, because I probably would have done my Earl Weaver or Billy Martin or even Lee Elia and went off the deep end.
Fortunately, I have this column to vent.
Again, congratulations to both teams, they are truly champions in my book.
Rick Curl is reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at 910-230-2037 or firstname.lastname@example.org