A national debate exploded around the outcome of a game in the Little League Softball World Series in Portland and the coach of the South Snohomish (Wash.) team that was accused of throwing a game has spoken out on Facebook, saying the run ratio rule system that helps determine teams that advance is “flawed and I did what was in the best interest of my team.
Coach Fred Miller said that his players were harassed with notes left on their hotel room doors, calling them cheaters. He said one of the team’s assistant coaches slept in the hotel hallway to protect the players from harassment.
“They have been called cheaters and that is total (excuse my French) crap. My girls fought their butts off til the final out today and I am super proud of them.”
South Snohomish, which had been 3-0, lost to a North Carolina team and was no-hit in the process. Believing Washington lost the game on purpose to keep an Iowa team from advancing into the bracket portion of the tournament, the Iowans filed a protest. Little League Softball World Series officials did not overturn the outcome of the controversial game. So the Iowans appealed to the governing body, Little League International, which ruled that a special tiebreaker game took place.
In a statement, South Snohomish Little League president Jeff Taylor seemed pointed the blame squarely at Miller. “Our coach was faced with a decision that, in the bubble of intense competition, appeared to him to be in the best interest of our team. In hindsight, it is very likely he would have made a different choice. Though the decision that coach (Fred) Miller made did not violate the letter of the rules, I can see abundant evidence that it was not in line with the spirit of the game. … Finally, we hope that everyone remembers that the decisions that have placed our team under scrutiny were decisions made by the coach. Our young ladies had no role in that.”
In a lengthy post shared on his wife’s Facebook page, Fred Miller explained his version of the events and how the rulings were communicated to him.
“Little League promotes playing all your kids and because I played my reserves my team got screwed. I played my 4 reserves the whole game and little league tells me that because I did that my team would not get the 2 seed. What is that telling the kids and the community? That I must play my starters every game and if I don’t, I will be penalized! That is wrong!