At least something positive seems to be emerging from a high school softball controversy that left one team watching the state championship game from home despite leading the semifinals when the game was called due to inclement weather.
Kansas High School Athletic Association executive director Gary Musselman, who is serving as president of the National Federation of State High School Associations this year, told the Topeka Capital-Journal he will look into changing the rule that sent Andover (Kan.) packing with a 4-3 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning of a Class 5A state semifinal.
A five-hour rain delay and NFHS rules that require a state tournament game to be completed on the same day it is started forced the KHSAA to call the Class 5A state semifinal in Shawnee Heights’ favor after six and a half innings on May 28, discounting the two runs Andover scored in the top half of the seventh because the final frame could not be completed.
“I hated it, everybody did,” Musselman told the Capital-Journal. “It makes everybody miserable.
“At that point in time and still, until we make a change if we do, the rule in the National Federation rulebook says what it says. You hate for kids to lose in that circumstance. I totally understand that. But if we had played another half inning who’s to say (Shawnee Heights) might not have scored some runs and won the game legitimately.”
Incredibly, the same issue struck Iowa on Monday night. A storm forced tournament officials to call a regional championship game Alta-Aurelia led 5-4 in the top of the seventh inning in favor of the other team, because Logan-Magnolia finished the last completed inning with a 4-2 lead. If that seems like a problem, it’s because it is.
“It’s a travesty,” Alta-Aurelia coach Dave Turnquist told the Sioux City Journal. “The rule should be changed.”
And it appears the rule might be changed.
“What that prompts us to want to do, and we will because we’ve already talked about it in our June board meeting, is we will look at a game-ending rule for state tournaments only when the stakes are higher,” added Musselman. “We’ll look at a rule that says, ‘We’re going to play this thing out if it takes a month of Sundays.’
“I really think that’s probably the direction we’ll go. We’ll certainly talk about it, so that we wouldn’t have to have that circumstance occur in the state tournament.”
That’s little consolation for Andover and Alta-Aurelia, but it’s a start.